The portrait of 2009’s passel of counterinsurgency efforts in Afghanistan is becoming clearer. Bolster troop levels. Recruit tribal militias to battle extremists, in a second-time-as-farce version of Iraq’s Anbar Awakening. Mitigate increasing distance with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in advance of elections. Work with the Big-T Taliban’s rejection of peace talks by pursuing negotiations with their extremist allies and with affiliated tribes. Hand out erectile dysfunction medication to tribesmen to get them to bandwagon against the Taliban-led insurgent coalition, who have no E.D. medication to distribute. The Washington Post reports:
For some U.S. operatives in Afghanistan, Western drugs such as Viagra were just part of a long list of enticements available for use in special cases. Two veteran officers familiar with such practices said Viagra was offered rarely, and only to older tribal officials for whom the drug would hold special appeal. While such sexual performance drugs are generally unavailable in the remote areas where the agency’s teams operated, they have been sold in some Kabul street markets since at least 2003 and were known by reputation elsewhere.
“You didn’t hand it out to younger guys, but it could be a silver bullet to make connections to the older ones,” said one retired operative familiar with the drug’s use in Afghanistan. Afghan tribal leaders often had four wives — the maximum number allowed by the Koran — and aging village patriarchs were easily sold on the utility of a pill that could “put them back in an authoritative position,” the official said.
You also don’t have to worry about the dangers of Cialis illicitly making its way to the Taliban, unlike, say, M16s or shoulder-fired missiles. This is a really good idea, isn’t it? Directly responsive to immediate and, uh, deeply felt needs of an important and unpersuaded-but-persuadable population. If you’re an impotent tribal elder, are you going to threaten your erection supplier? And people say CIA is hidebound and uncreative.
Update: Megan Carpentier and I reconsider the program from a feminist perspective here.