Will foreign policy get even sexier in 2009?
The line between punishment and reward can be confusing in any culture. Particularly when it comes to sex. (How naughty HAVE we been, Frau Blucher?)
Sex scandals are so day-before-yesterday. Even the infamous Larry Craig restless leg syndrome restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is losing its skanky luster as a tourist touchstone destination for other than bladder reasons, officials there have told the AP.
But Barack Obama has promised that he’s more attuned to cultures of all kinds, so maybe he can sort out some hard contradictions about Americans and sex policy overseas.
The Middle East, for instance, has great allures and equally rigid moral codes. When I was in Cairo during the Gulf War, I hired a guy to drive me to interviews. We were stuck in traffic on a highway overpass one afternoon when he pointed to a maternity hospital in the near distance. “On summer days,” he said, “when it’s really hot, the windows are all open there and if you’re stopped like this you can see into the delivery rooms.” He leered when he said it. Social repression in Egyptian society, he explained when I looked a little perplexed, meant you got your kicks in some odd ways.
Even in Abu Dubai, the flowering, towered steroidal Vegas of the Gulf States, a British couple was sentenced in October to three months in jail for “unmarried sex and public indecency” after fooling around on a beach there. A stiff fine, for sure. “We just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said the man, Vince Acors, who beefed about not even having gotten to all the bases with his new girlfriend after a champagne brunch. “The definition of sex” in the Middle East “is different” than in England, according to Mr. Acors, though he didn’t supply details. So’s the food.
So why is it OK for CIA operatives to be handing out Viagra to Afghan rural chieftains in exchange for logistical help and intelligence? In my days as a foreign correspondent we packed cigarettes and Polaroids. Now it’s ED drugs? Should it be accepted practice to encourage and enhance sex in one Mideast zone when it’s against the law to actually do it in another? I know the facts are different. Never mind. There is some cultural contradiction in there somewhere that Mrs. Clinton may have to parse when she assumes her office; she could probably get some expert advice from within her very inner circle.
The blue pill recipient in Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post, citing the now retired US operative who helped pump up one village elder, was very grateful. “He came up to us beaming,” after he got the Viagra, the operative was quoted as saying. “And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area.”
Apparently, so could he. Did anyone ask the chief’s four wives what they thought about his new “authoritative position,” as another unnamed intel official put it?
Also, the CIA shouldn’t count on forever with that help. The average sexual encounter is from three to thirteen minutes, according to a recent sex research study. Even multiplied by four that barely gives you time to call in the Predator drone strike.
But anything lasting over four hours and they better also provide some doctors on call. We can’t afford any more permanent damage in that part of the world.