It would appear that, for all those jokes about winning hearts and minds, the CIA understands the process better than we might have suspected. Drawing upon a Washington Post report, BBC NEWS has run a story on a rather innovative approach to cultivating Afghan warlords as sources of strategic information:
America's CIA has found a novel way to gain information from fickle Afghan warlords - supplying sex-enhancing drug Viagra, a US media report says.
The Washington Post said it was one of a number of enticements being used.
In one case, a 60-year-old warlord with four wives was given four pills and four days later detailed Taleban movements in return for more.
"Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people," the Post quoted one agent as saying.
"Whether it's building a school or handing out Viagra."
Now it would not surprise me if Taliban fundamentalists would view any drug concerned with sexual performance as more deleterious than opium poppies. If this is the case, then the CIA may have tapped into a cultural divide significant enough to promote "the American way of life" as more favorable than Taliban orthodoxy. We should thus give the CIA the credit they deserve for out-of-the-box thinking!