Maybe the Rape Is a Crock After All

by Joshua Foust on 12/30/2008 · 2 comments

The inimitable Free Range International calls into question the whole CIA-Viagra-Elders thing:

Viagra is available in most of the pharmacies (and there are thousands here) located in the prominent towns of Afghanistan. In the remote rural areas of the country one can find people who have never heard of or seen medicine in pill form. They do not know there is such a thing as aspirin let alone Viagra. But I suspect any leader important enough to warrant courting by the CIA is also educated enough to know about medicine in pill form. If he knows what pills are then he probably knows about Viagra and if he wanted some obtaining it would be simple. It certainly would not require debasing one’s self in front of a foreigner especially one from the CIA.

What I do not have to guess about is the consequences of a foreigner trying to give an important leader pills for a flagging libido. That would be an insult so grave that a Pashtun chief could never tolerate it. There is only one way an international could pass on something like Viagra and that would be through a trusted Afghan who was also friends with the target and could deliver the goods to the chief in private. To imply that a CIA operative found out the number and ages of the chieftain’s wives in casual conversation and then reached into his bag of BS to pull out four Viagra pills which were then received “with delight” is beyond ridiculous. It is an outright fabrication which proves the main stream media is every bit as clueless about this country as the FOB bound Big Army or the locked down embassy staff.

But there are other reasons to doubt this story. I know a couple guys on the mobile security team (MST) contract for the CIA. They have never, not once, left the FOB to which they are assigned. My statistical sample of MST contractors may be insignificant and I may be wrong about them being 100% FOB bound but I doubt it. I met only a few CIA officers while on active duty so I claim no insider knowledge or expertise but their description of the agency matches perfectly with the recently published history Legacy of Ashes and that excellent book was not a flattering portrait to say the least.

This is getting at another side of the story I had neglected: if it’s even true or not. Now, FRI has vastly more ground-level experience than I or anyone I know does, so I can’t say for certain that his absolutism about the insult of Viagra is right or wrong. But it rubs me wrong—Afghans, and especially Pashtuns, are honor-bound, to be sure, but they are also pragmatic. Assuming this actually happened (and wasn’t yet another cleverly planted IO campaign meant to propagandize us about the war), it is a safe bet it wasn’t as neat and tidy as the story made it out to be.

But this is where FRI is being unfair: there are reasonable things to report, and there are unreasonable things to report. I think I do a decent-enough job of highlighting the difference on this blog, but this story is an important one, however quirky it might seem. I sincerely doubt the hated “main stream media” have the resources or capacity to falsify the CIA’s claim; as such, reporting on the CIA’s intention to utilize Viagra like this, or even their attempt (should they be whitewashing the results), is still worth reporting. It is actually a pretty ridiculous overreaction to call it an outright fabrication—that would imply intent on the part of the Washington Post and other news outlets. What agenda do they serve by running this story? It doesn’t undermine the war, which is normally the assumed intent placed on media outlets by people who cry about the “main stream media.” It’s not really pro-government propaganda, either. I don’t get it. It’s also believable that the prospect of getting pills like Viagra for free is a wonderful prospect compared to the cost of paying the local apothecary—especially when you can be guaranteed a certain level of quality that is not at all assured in local pharmacies.

Lastly, and I’ll have to leave it at this, but there are most certainly CIA case officers who go off the FOB. Just as FRI’s constant complaints about the State Department is all well and good until you consider that each PRT has at least one State Department officer on its leadership, so too FRI is painting far too strongly with far too narrow a brush. I think FRI has his finger on the gist of the problems of that story—which I had glossed over in my rush to discuss the rape angle—but he would also be much more persuasive if he weren’t so extreme in his absolutism. Making concrete, absolutist statements about what Afghans are and are not, and what they do and do not, is one of the reasons we are in the mess we are in. I’m sure even FRI would agree with that.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 2 comments }

Oldschool Boy December 31, 2008 at 2:21 am

May be viagra is not to rape but to please their wives? May be sex is the only good thing these poor women have in their lives?

Guruzazu January 1, 2009 at 2:12 pm

pretty sad when a guy can’t get his viagra

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