It must be blue pill day.
A friend in the US is undergoing cancer treatment at the moment and commented on her Facebook page yesterday that the blue pills she has to take as part of her chemo have a very “blue pill” side effect…
This morning while sifting through comments in the blogs spam trap, I followed up one trackback to an interesting site that harvests articles and posts relating to Afghanistan – it is chock-full of advertising but had some links to interesting articles….including this anti-Olympic rant. While the guy does note the irony that 30 years ago we used the Moscow Olympics as a platform to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; and points out at great length the gross over-commercialism of the Olympics the total loss of the ideals they once represented. But often more is less and this article would be way more effective if it was half the length.
Another site I followed from the spam trap took me to this great item from the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, based on an article in the Washington Post in 2008. The CIA found that Viagra was a great form of incentive payment for informers in Afghanistan, especially those who might be feeling the effect of advancing years and numerous young wives…certainly it shows that someone is thinking a bit out of the square over there.
The usual bribes of choice — cash and weapons — aren’t always the best options, Afghanistan veterans say. Guns too often fall into the wrong hands, they say, and showy gifts such as money, jewelry and cars tend to draw unwanted attention…“If you give an asset $1,000, he’ll go out and buy the shiniest junk he can find, and it will be apparent that he has suddenly come into a lot of money from someone,” said Jamie Smith, a veteran of CIA covert operations in Afghanistan and now chief executive of SCG International, a private security and intelligence company. “Even if he doesn’t get killed, he becomes ineffective as an informant because everyone knows where he got it.” Joby Warrick, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, December 26, 2008.
Viagra is probably allowed under Islamic law. A book I read (can’t remember who or what) a couple of years back commented that while alcohol was specifically forbidden in the Koran, along with a great many other pleasures, tobacco is not mentioned and therefore generally accepted:
The general underlying principle of Islamic law is that everything is permitted, except that which is explicitly prohibited, and since there is no direct mention of tobacco smoking in either of the primary sources of law (the Koran and Sunna), jurists have historically regarded tobacco smoking as an acceptable sociable activity. www.tobacco.org
While there have been various calls for smoking to be banned under Islamic law, the majority of these have been from the medical profession and a number of Islamic nations have implemented anti-smoking laws similar to those in effect across the Anglosphere. The British Medical Journal has interesting study on the influence on smoking in Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities in the UK which concludes “…Although there are some culturally specific contexts for smoking behaviour in Bangladeshi and Pakistani adults—notably the influence of gender and religion—there are also strong similarities with white people, particularly among younger adults. Themes identified should help to inform the development and appropriate targeting of smoking cessation interventions…” However this study does identify that “…the Koran does prohibit intoxicants and addictions…” and tobacco certainly qualifies as the latter. What would the effect be upon the nutjobs and troublemakers of the Islamic world is smoking was declared haram (forbidden) under Islamic law?
Getting back to our blue pill, perhaps there is scope for this ‘aid’, being neither intoxicating nor addictive (never proven in court) to become a key enabler in the hearts and minds programme in Afghanistan…after all, we are trying to fight a nice war and what could be nicer than spreading the ‘love’…? New Zealand’s next PRT contingent has just commenced predeployment training – perhaps a couple of pallets of NZAID blue pills should accompany them when they deploy…?
Such was the case with the 60-year-old chieftain who received four pills from a U.S. operative. According to the retired operative who was there, the man was a clan leader in southern Afghanistan who had been wary of Americans — neither supportive nor actively opposed. The man had extensive knowledge of the region and his village controlled key passages through the area. U.S. forces needed his cooperation and worked hard to win it, the retired operative said. After a long conversation through an interpreter, the retired operator began to probe for ways to win the man’s loyalty. A discussion of the man’s family and many wives provided inspiration. Once it was established that the man was in good health, the pills were offered and accepted. Four days later, when the Americans returned, the gift had worked its magic, the operative recalled. “He came up to us beaming,” the official said. “He said, ‘You are a great man.’ And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area.” Joby Warrick, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, December 26, 2008