The Silent Weapon in the War Against the Taliban: Viagra

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How Viagra played a role in the Afghan war.


Counterinsurgency, we're frequently told, is a battle for "hearts and minds." In Afghanistan, British and American forces have evidently concluded that one way to win a man's heart is through his pants.

Writing in Newsweek, Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai detail how one British Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand embarked on a campaign to win over local mullahs by plying them with clothing, food and medicine. As "Operation Mullah" unfolded and the Brits began to earn the trust of local clerics, they received additional requests:

It was not long before some imams even began to take team members into their confidence and to disclose their most personal complaints, such as their sexual debilities. The answer to the imams’ pleas: Viagra. “We hesitantly gave Viagra to a few mullahs,” says the adviser. “And after a few months they were all demanding the drug, so we began ordering and distributing large quantities.”

This story, alas, does not have a happy ending, at least for the British. After taking these Viagra-popping imams on a tour of the UK (to show how Muslims live and worship freely in the West) they were reportedly dismayed to hear the clerics refer to the British and Americans as "invaders" who would soon be driven out of Afghanistan.

This isn't the first time Viagra has been used in an attempt to win Afghans over to their Western occupiers. The CIA reportedly plied friendly warlords with the drug as payback for tips on the Taliban's whereabouts. Viagra was preferred to cash because, as one CIA operator told the Washington Post, a warlord's sudden extravagance would be noticeable and instantly suspect. His prowess and nocturnal stamina, less so (unless he suffered one of the dreaded side effects).

Not surprisingly, the Taliban are less enthusiastic about the stuff. Just last week, the Pakistani Taliban warned shopkeepers in the Khyber region to stop selling Viagra and "obscene films."

(Photo: Pfizer)

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