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Why the Taliban are happy that the US and Pakistan patched things up

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But for today, there's delight all around. Richard Hoagland, the deputy US ambassador to Pakistan, called the supply agreement a "demonstration of increased transparency and openness" between the US and Pakistan. A Pakistani defense official described the deal as a "landmark event," according to Agence France-Presse. The Taliban are smiling, too, according to the Associated Press

"Stopping these supplies caused us real trouble," a Taliban commander who leads about 60 insurgents in eastern Ghazni province told The Associated Press in an interview. "Earnings dropped down pretty badly. Therefore the rebellion was not as strong as we had planned." A second Taliban commander who controls several dozen fighters in southern Kandahar province said the money from security companies was a key source of financing for the insurgency, which uses it to pay fighters and buy weapons, ammunition and other supplies. "We are able to make money in bundles," the commander told the AP by telephone. "Therefore, the NATO supply is very important for us."

Afghanistan is one of the most corrupt places on earth, and hundreds of millions of dollars of spending there have been siphoned off over the years by both corrupt locals and international workers. The fact that the Taliban are an ongoing concern, partially thanks to NATO's trucking arrangements, is just part of the problem. A broader one was highlighted yesterday by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which issued a report yesterday titled "Fiscal Year 2011 Afghanistan Infrastructure Projects are Behind Schedule and Lack Adequate Sustainment Plans." The US has allocated nearly $90 billion to Afghan reconstruction efforts in the past decade. The authors write:

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