December 02, 2010

During the Congress of Vienna, where people knew each other only from correspondence or portraits, a fake would have been discovered almost immediately. Talleyrand and Metternich were no fools, nor were their flunkies, versed as they were in diplomatic language and manners. In Afghanistan, smelly feet and illiteracy are the enemy’s sine qua non. Any swindler who has not taken a bath in months can be mistaken for a Taliban leader. The situation is so bizarre that the path of least resistance lies in Münchausen-like tales and fantasies. Nothing is for real except death, illiteracy, and foul smells. Go figure, as they say you-know-where.

In fact, I am starting to doubt that my friend Harry Laden is the Osama bin Laden that was made a member of White’s and so generously bought drinks for everyone at the bar for so long. Or that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad is who he says he is. He could be an Israeli impostor named Moshe Gilad, a preposterous con man who once pretended to be a bearded lady in a circus and better yet, once passed as Irene Pappas, the Greek actress, at a Hollywood premiere. The things Ahmadinejad says about driving the Israelis into the Med are enough to raise my suspicions. What better friend could the Israelis have to extract even more billions and F-35s from the Americans than Gilad playing Ahmadinejad?

Just as Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction turned out to be duds, I’m afraid the 80 billion greenbacks Uncle Sam spends for intelligence yearly could also turn out to be an illusion. Perhaps all the moolah goes straight into the coffers of Goldman Sachs: recycled, washed, and into the pockets of Lloyd Blankfein, who might not be Blankfein after all. I wouldn’t put it past him to be Mansour, all shaven head and washed and wearing a Western suit. Stranger things have happened, such as the fiasco back in Afghanistan, where Lloyd Blankfein posed as a Taliban leader and got away with it.



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