When I listen to my nation's political and military leaders, they seem to sing two different tunes about the Taliban. At times, the Afghan fighters are said to possess much prowess. They often get lumped together with al-Qaeda as the masterminds of much of the "terrorist" acts throughout the world.
At other times, however, we're told they are a rag-tag outfit, one that is no match for the mighty US military machine. They really are no more than pesky gnats!
How is it that this one group can be described with mutually exclusive definitions?
I think I may have figured it out. When we need to buck up American morale re the "war effort," the Taliban is painted as the rag-tag outfit. Our leaders want us to feel good about good old American know-how, so it is at these times that the Taliban is painted like a bunch of inept buffoons. Yes, they ARE slippery buffoons, but they really are no match for our well-trained US troops.
However, when our political leaders want the citizenry to be frightened out of our wits -- so they can eviscerate more and more of our civil liberties -- the Taliban and al-Qaeda morph into something akin to diabolical mad scientists. We are told that they have the knowledge and the know-how AND they aren't afraid to use it!!
And so, the majority of the American populace has somehow found a way to embrace these conflicting descriptions simultaneously. We are terrified that a rag-tag bunch of bumbling nomads has the capability to bring the world to its knees at a moment's notice.