About Me

My Photo
I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. I am a contributor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

MISUNDERSTANDING THE ENEMY WITH VIAGRA

I wasn’t going to post anything before January 2009 but as I am so shocked at what the CIA is doing, I felt that I had to make this posting. I believe that any true soldier that respects women will share my concerns…

When I read that the CIA is now offering Viagra to Afghan warlords, I finally realised just how little the CIA’s operatives understood about their enemy. The claim that this is offered “to win over Afghan warlords in the US-led war against Taliban insurgents” (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_2445933,00.html) is a perfect example of how the CIA continually gets it wrong. (I posted the original report on this method of payment as an addition to “The Lost Art of Intelligence Tradecraft”).

Whereas an intelligence agency is expected to resort to whatever measures are necessary to gather information, there is a fine line between controlling agents and in bribing them so that they can "put them back in an authoritative position" over their wives. Afghanistan is a country where women are raped and beaten by their husbands as a matter of course. Here women are known have set themselves ablaze to escape the brutality of their husbands. Many of these wives were sold to their husbands and given half a chance would most probably have chosen differently. Girls as young as 5-years old are sold into sex slavery and young boys raped.

While the rest of the world wonders why the Afghan men treat their women like prostitutes and their daughters as barter-goods, the CIA is helping to increase the sexual stamina of these men. With intelligence techniques such as this, no wonder the CIA has failed so dismally in Iraq and Afghanistan. As long as these warlords need their sexual stamina to be increased, they will have something to tell the CIA - regardless whether it is true or not - as long as they get paid…But there is also a difference in getting the information you need and want and being given what the sources believe you want.

Grand strategy gives rise to policies that are carried out by a nation’s foreign policy directives. If the Viagra gifts being handed out by the CIA are part of the overall foreign policy direction the US is taking, they are in serious trouble. Handing out Viagra in essence endorses marital and extra-marital rape because that is what is going to happen. Implementing a foreign policy that encourages forced sexual-gratification as a consequence cannot be wise. Indeed, the US can airlift in plane loads of Viagra to Afghanistan and the results will be little in terms of winning the war. But, the sexual torture they are encouraging will no doubt increase. I hope that someone, somewhere in the CIA, will feel a deep sense of shame about that.

Unfortunately, the US’s foreign policy has – as Africa can testify - been based on a lack of understanding of foreign cultures. They charge into countries and try to force the locals to agree and side with them, with no idea of the consequences of what they are doing. When their opinion is disregarded, the government is undermined and overthrown.

The ripple effects the Afghanistan Viagra gifts will have on those who determine the sensibility of this policy will be felt for some time to come. Women who have often been sold into marriage will now have to “grin and bear it” as a warlord recovers his lost virility.

Sun Tzu’s Art of War gives a valuable bit of advice to strategists and planners: Know your enemy. Knowing the enemy requires intelligence. The recruitment and running of agents requires detailed planning – including methods of payment. If Viagra has become an agent-currency in Afghanistan, no wonder there is so little success.

Added on 2 January 2009: It seems as though the Taliban are not only taking the CIA’s Viagra to heart, they are now going one step further: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/264395#tab=&sc=&local=

24 comments:

Stupid said...

No doubt the average American is oblivious about these activities. Do any Americans reading this still have doubts about why the world is so anti-American????

bulletbunny said...

thank you for standing up for these poor women. not only could they not count on their american "liberators" to protect them, but now they have to deal with the americans conniving with their brutal husbands to violate them even more forcefully. the cia operators who handed out viagra to the afghan warlords should be prosecuted: they are party to - and therefore guilty of - the rape of women and children.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The truth is that the average American is actually a hard-working, honest-to-goodness fellow, Stupid. I also suspect that he/she is blissfully unaware of what their “leaders” are up to. The US Army is an army of lions led by rather stupid donkeys. With such poor leadership, how can they possibly win a war? But there is a definite line between what is right and what is wrong – and encouraging rape makes them an assessor to the suffering that will follow.

Wars are fought to be won. All governments accept that during war there will be civilian casualties and collateral damage. But this type of Viagra-charged sexual damage is done with an arrogance that does not befit a civilised people. To think that they have anointed themselves as the moral custodians of the world is indeed sickening.

Can you imagine what the US would have said - and done - had South Africa done that type of thing during the Angolan war? Even worse, if EO did that?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Their actions are indeed despicable, Bullet Bunny.

If history is anything to go by, the CIA will not be held responsible for what they have done - and are doing. The devastation and destruction they caused in Indonesia to oust Pres Sukarno led to over a million deaths. Did they have to account for that? No. Did they have to account for installing Mugabe in Zimbabwe? No. Did they have to account for what happened in Zaire? No. The list goes on…

So, they will not be brought to book for this as it is most likely considered as minor “collateral damage” in comparison with their “great” achievements elsewhere.

Rgds,

Eeben

Grumbleguts said...

For what it's worth, I have an idea that the USA Generals couldn't care less what happens in any country that they are fighting in. As long as the oil flow is secure, it's all that matters. For all the media flak that they may or may not get, at the end of the day it means very little. They are really not accountable to anyone. They realise that if things fall over, they can run back to the USA where they are are safe from any enemy's direct attack. They washed their hands of Vietnam, and when Pol Pot slaughtered the innocents, it became someone else's problem. If there was oil in Vietnam, they would still be there. So it is with the viagra thing. Any sensible person can see what the outcome will be, be it rape, paedophilia, or whatever sexual rampage. When these things happen, they will wash their hands of the whole affair, helped by the liberal media.

bulletbunny said...

i too fear there may be no punishment meted out to these cia operatives who so sniggeringly handed out viagra like candy. but history is already proving that america has been unable to show any long-term gains anywhere in the world despite employing the most diabolical of tactics. perhaps US policy makers (none of whom have been raped, obviously) should ask themselves why america has never won a war (since the civil war...against itself, of course.) Then they may realise that there is no strategy to counter Divine Global Justice.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are quite correct, Grumbleguts. Of course, nothing will happen to them. The CIA is a law unto itself and therefore believes it is above the law. Killing the enemy is one thing. Helping the warlords (read enemy) to rape and commit other sexual crimes is, in my book, despicable.

This will most probably also compromise the identity of the Afghan warlords acting as CIA sources. The Taliban will only need to look for those warlords who walk around with permanent erections. But, there are no tablets for stupidity.

This Viagra-based strategy will still come back to haunt them. But by then, they will probably be busy elsewhere destabilising someone else.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The tragedy becomes even bigger, Bullet Bunny, when the US wants to tell Africa – via AFRICOM – how to pull itself together. A foreign policy built on Viagra bodes ill for the continent.

I believe that the CIA has, in one swoop, destroyed everything the US has tried to do to restore its image.

Rgds,

Eeben

E Richard said...

Hey Eeben,
Yeah, this is a hard one to make sense of.
I truly respect your opinions and judgments, but from the perspective of how the wheels are actually turning, you are offering nothing more than a workable solution that is practical and achievable, and somehow that is not the true objective.
I really have a hard time forcing it on myself, but I actually believe that these idiots know what they are up to, be it good, bad or indifferent. We are not privileged to the rational, motives, planning etc... but these plans are well thought out before being implemented. People in high places have signed off of these plan, all with the deny-ablilty clause attached. You can bet that Pfizer just didn't dump it's excess inventory in the CIA lobby as free sample handouts.
Makes you wonder who graduated these idiots.
I'm shaking my head again in disbelief.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I have had a few mails from friends on this issue ER. Whereas it is always easy to sit in judgement from a distance, I still cannot condone this. I too have an understanding of running agents (I ran agents in the PLO and other Middle Eastern organisations for a time) and I understand the predicament case officers must at times find themselves in. Case officers/agent handlers need to stoop to low levels at times in order to get the information they want.

I also understand something about war and that its aim is to kill the enemy and achieve victory. But I believe soldiers and agent handlers should stay out of the personal domain (read sexual) of their agents. Whereas agent handlers are amateur psychologists (they need to be to recruit and run agents) they shouldn’t be out there boasting how they are solving the penile erectile dysfunction of agents in a country where women are the lowest of the low.

Rgds,

Eeben

bulletbunny said...

as a woman who has dealt with rape victims, my outrage at the cia's approach knows no bounds. now it is being fuelled by the pathetic defensive actions of some of their supporters who are trying to diminish the impact of what they have done by claiming that it is just a very stupid way of trying to help their soldiers with some intelligence at least. other cia supporters have fallen back on the hackneyed old defence that the media got it all wrong. what do you think?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Bullet Bunny, I am no supporter of the Taliban or any other religious fanatical group that uses its religion and beliefs to wage war.

I however see the situation very differently because I, along with the army I once served in, the company I once ran and the shambolic continent I live in were all – and still are - targeted by the US government and the CIA. We think we understand the aims of the US government(s) and the policies they espouse as we live in the ruins of the mess they have caused. Sadly the average American citizen is blissfully unaware of what is really happening.

I am sure that the media could be getting it wrong somewhere. There have, however, been several different reports by several different reporters. All point to the same thing. But the simple fact that the footage showed these operatives high-fiving one another after giving out the little blue pills was nothing short of disgusting. I was brought up to respect women and children and never to harm them – unless they were shooting at me.

The US was always very quick to attack the SADF over even the smallest of issues. EO was even bigger game to them. This despite the fact that their allegations and accusations were based on CIA-conceived lies. The damage the US caused in Africa and in South Africa in particular is nothing short of shameful. What they are now doing in the Middle East is horrific. The US soldier is being blamed for this as no senior officer or official will take the responsibility.

As I said before, I understand that intelligence agencies sometimes must stoop to low levels due to the type of people they handle as agents. I have been there. Ultimately, I very strongly believe the aim of war is to destroy the enemy and force him into a position where he can no longer sustain his forces. Intelligence plays a large role in this. The Viagra-story is more aimed at abusing the women and children of the enemy and not the enemy himself. I have also worked in the Middle East and know how the wives there are treated. This will now only get worse. Or will the CIA simply consider it a means to an end?

There is a way to run and remunerate agents. This is in my book definitely not the way to go. What they are doing is indirectly encouraging rape of wives, little girls and boys – and even goats as someone pointed out to me.

I simply cannot condone that type of foreign policy behaviour. This gross stupidity will cost the US dearly in the long run and hurt its image even more. Many people will now look even more askew at AFRICOM as they will suspect that AFRICOM will also hand out Viagra to all and sundry and encourage them to start raping women and children. In fact, when rapes in these areas now take place, the finger will be pointed at the CIA and US foreign policy. The US soldier at the front will have to shoulder the blame for this – again.

This posting has received some comment on the blog but a LOT of mail from several African governments for thanking me for posting it. They too are equally shocked at this.

I guess the long and the short of it is that the CIA is now clutching at straws and never considered the likely reaction to this. The massive intelligence failures in Iraq and Afghanistan are proof of this. Having been instrumental in ending a few wars, I know that one thing one should never do is harm the wives and children of a perceived enemy. Poorly thought out strategies and non-existent plans cannot be rectified with Viagra. That is a sad fact.

Rgds,

Eeben

E Richard said...

Hey Eeben,
I have read a couple of pieces that depict the Viagra as nothing more than a "goodie", with no ramifications. Positive press for the US.
Guns and money are bringing to much attention, so other options are needed. Viagra is really nothing more than a legal drug, and once the word gets out, it will be sough after and coveted the same as any other item of value.
I still have to wonder, how high up the chain of command was this decision made?
I am in no way condoning this type of action.
The point I am trying to put my finger on is that in the initial thought process we all want to believe that what the CIA (an extension of the United States Government) is doing is for the greater good.
The greater good is summed up as the interests of the USA, and to a lesser degree the interests of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Canada. All of the other countries are a means in which to secure your interests.
We can hope that with a changing of the guard in Washington, that at the very least we will have a conscious attached to our foreign policy.

Stupid said...

The average American should have a relatively good understanding that the success of a democratic government depends on the involvement of each individual in the country’s governing processes. So if each and every citizen has the right to vote then each and every person is also accountable for the government’s actions. Legislation in a democratic society doesn’t accept ignorance as a defense.

Considering that CIA represents a government that loves to fight wars in foreign countries on the MORAL GROUNDS that they are trying to establish new democratic societies, this all just makes the Americans much less likeable (being diplomatic here) if their own citizens are not willing to take responsibility for their government.

Eeben, I appreciate your view that the average American is “actually a hard-working, honest-to-goodness fellow.” And so is the average African (like myself), or Middle Eastern person. By the Americans’ example, I have now further come to the conclusion that a democratic government is just a pile of sh..t.

It is NOT a fair world, and these Muslim woman already know it. Maybe its time the Americans found that out too? Sorry, I’m just making threats because I’m just really mad. And I state my feelings because I don’t think people understand why there are extremists that go to the extent of the 9/11 attack. I will NEVER agree with the actions of these terrorists, but I cannot deny that I have a very clear understanding of their motivation.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I know you are not condoning it, ER. But as people, we all expect our government (at least in some countries) to work for the greater good. I know what you are saying about interests and you are spot on. However, I doubt that the changing of the guard will lead to massive foreign policy changes as any government’s first priority lies with its own people.

Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You make a very valid comment about democracy, Stupid.

Unfortunately, as you know, there are different styles of “democracy” and the CIA is aiming to further its definition of democracy – ie, “We can do what we want, but no-one else can”. It is that selective morality that gets my goat. So, I fully understand your anger as I too feel it.

Like you, I too will never agree with anything these radical groups do, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever. But at times, I must confess that I too can understand what can lead to such extreme actions.

Rgds,

Eeben

E Richard said...

Hey Eeben,
Yes we resemble most of the problems that other nations see us as. and change in the way we do business has been long overdue.
Our military industrial complex is so powerful and deep seeded it is virtually intrenched in Washington DC. The amounts of money that transact in seconds are more that the average person can conceive of in a lifetime.
Our 2 party system is broken.
But yes, we are so screwed-up that the teachers of our decision makers actually believe in what they are doing.
And yes we do understand why we are the target of extremism, but it has been labeled as "un-patriotic" for us as citizens to do the math.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

ER, I cannot comment on the US political system – only on what I see and have experienced at the hands of US foreign policy.

As Stupid rightly pointed out, the majority of people all over are good, hard-working, honest people. We from Africa often find ourselves at the short end of the stick because we are seen as “third world nationals” who are unable to grasp the bigger picture. Once this so-called “bigger picture” is aimed at destroying you, it is difficult to not get angry.

There are good people in all governments but the problem to us over here, is why is US foreign policy aimed at destroying what could be its allies? The world is changing rapidly and new international powers are emerging. Countries that were once US allies are now looking towards the East for support and protection.

Ultimately, this all leads to the US soldier being sold down the drain as he is the one who becomes the extension of foreign policy – and when it fails, he carries the blame.

Rgds,

Eeben

Yuan said...

They (CIA) will never learn, history proved it over and over. If you don't get the suffering locals (women and girls in this instance) on your side you most probably are doomed to fail. Don't they realize that they desperately need 'friendly's' as close as possible to the ennemy and not more ennemies? Maybe they heard the dutch saying: "wanneer de penist staat in de lught, de verstand hang aan de bal" or the CIA received some top secret intel that one of the contra indications using viagra, may lead to high blood pressure and hope that the Afghan warlords will eventually all suffer heart attacks. My heart goes out for those poor women and kids and I hope a bunch of journalists with balls pick up on this - although I doubt it.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Well put, Yuan. Lessons learnt don’t feature with them.

Rgds,

Eeben

simon said...

Viagra isnt the only thing they are handing out. I work in immigration and have seen some shall we say, odd visas being granted from typically red flag countries. The viagra thing is laughable at first but it really is a terrible way to fight a moral war. Talk about a Proxy system of warefare. sheesh.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I have no problem fighting a war against an enemy, Simon. I do, however, as you, believe that we should never extend that war to the women and children of the enemy. When we do that, we can no longer claim to be fighting a moral or just war.

Rgds,

Eeben

Mac Oz said...

Finally caught up with all of your blog entries and the attendant comments - powerful stuff indeed.

I will continue to follow with great interest in 2009 and beyond. The areas you are planning to include in your blog are of great interest in today's world and are inextricably linked to much of you previous subject matter.

Also, thanks for the great tradecraft tip on spotting compromised Afghan warlords! :-))

PS - Don't forget the order form for the No.1 buyer for your planned works!

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Good to hear from you, Mac Oz. I look forward to your visits and comments.

I haven’t forgotten about the order form…I shall keep you posted.

Rgds,

Eeben