This morning, the Denver Post print edition ran an excerpted version of this Washington Post story published yesterday:
The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.
Four blue pills. Viagra.
“Take one of these. You’ll love it,” the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.
The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes — followed by a request for more pills.
For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won. While the CIA has a long history of buying information with cash, the growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining to gain support in some of the country’s roughest neighborhoods, according to officials directly involved in such operations.
Riiiiiight–because we invaded Afghanistan back in 2001 in order to restore traditional patriarchal control of Afghan society? Well, that’s not how they explained it at the time. But, hey–men of all nations can bond over the sexual domination of women! “Uncle Sam” is just doing what works, eh? (As the headline in the Denver Post reads, “It’s the little things that sway Afghans.”) Later in the Washington Post story, a veteran CIA officer explains, “You’re trying to bridge a gap between people living in the 18th century and people coming in from the 21st century. . . so you look for those common things in the form of material aid that motivate people everywhere.” Well, only half of the people, at most. (Funny how that works!)
Handing out viagra to Afghan chieftains is explained not as the sexual exploitation of women regardless of consent, nor as sex trafficking, but as a way of doing business with a distinguished history:
Among the world’s intelligence agencies, there’s a long tradition of using sex as a motivator. Robert Baer, a retired CIA officer and author of several books on intelligence, noted that the Soviet spy service was notorious for using attractive women as bait when seeking to turn foreign diplomats into informants.
“The KGB has always used ‘honey traps,’ and it works,” Baer said.
It’s just sex, right? Sex is sexy fun for everyone! Well, at least for the people the U.S. government cares about–not necessarily for the women involved, but clearly they don’t count.
I liked it better when President and Mrs. Bush pretended to be feminists and told us that we were invading Afghanistan to liberate women from their burkhas. Good times, good times.