The combination of official reports downplaying the Afghanistan peace talks and other official reports, often from the exact same sources, lauding them as making great progress has been quite confusing over the past weeks. Reports in the Guardian appear to explain this however, citing officials saying the claims are being intentionally hyped as “part of a misinformation campaign aimed at the Taliban leadership.”
Which would put a whole new light on Richard Holbrooke’s claims today that a number of new “high-level” Taliban are seeking the talks because “of the growing pressure they’re under from General Petraeus.”
It would also explain the actual Taliban’s surprise at the claims that such talks are ongoing, and the public rejection of those claims. A number of previous talks over the past several years seemed to amount to the same thing, with the reports centered around convincing low ranking Taliban that a deal was imminent and that they should accept offers from the Karzai government.
And even if the “misinformation” is aimed at the Taliban it also has a side-effect of becoming another part of the growing collection of false claims of “progress” by the administration ahead of key conferences on the war. With many of the public comments directed at Western audiences the question of how much of this is really a military strategy and how much is just overt lying remains an open question.