And, oh yeah, we bought their army out from under them:
- "The Taliban conquered the country with bribery and negotiation," said a former CIA officer familiar with the operation. "And basically, that's the way we reconquered it--with help from air power."
It's an interesting story --- for, among other reasons, the CIA use of smuggling routes for the bribes (money and technotoys, particularly satphones, and a Land Rover full of cash for the warlord currently serving as governor of Kandahar). The CIA had earlier used the same routes to deliver arms to Islamic radicals fighting the Soviet-imposed government, which (among other things) gave a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden his first taste of fighting against heathen westerners who let their women take jobs and show their hair in public.
So, it's worthwhile in considering the operation to remember once again that thugs are like cheap beer --- they can't be bought, only rented.
(via Peter Maass, who tosses in a few anecdotes of his own about reporting from Kandahar).