Browsing the archives for the afghanistan tag.

Entertaining news stories of the day …

Culture, Funny, International Politics, US culture

.. of a slightly dark, and very odd sort:

Little Blue Pills Among the Ways CIA Wins Friends in Afghanistan (via The Stump)

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

“Take one of these. You’ll love it,” the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes — followed by a request for more pills.

Fake money isn’t what it used to be (via Kevin Drum)

The Secret Service agent in Kansas City peered hard at a counterfeit $100 bill, ran a finger over it and grimaced in disgust.

It was bad, ugly work.

“Too slick, too,” said Charles Green, special agent in charge.

More counterfeiters are using today’s ink-jet printers, computers and copiers to make money that’s just good enough to pass, he said, even though their product is awful.

In the past, he said, the best American counterfeiters were skilled printers who used heavy offset presses to turn out decent 20s, 50s and 100s. Now that kind of work is rare and almost all comes from abroad.

Among American thieves, the 22-year veteran said sadly, “it’s a lost art.”

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Good questions on Afghanistan

International Politics, Politics, US Politics

Over time, the place which the Afghanistan war retains in the American political conversation has become reduced to a marginal subject with an overwhelmingly symbolic role. As debate raged over the rightness or wrongness of the Iraq invasion, Afghanistan became more of an abstraction: the blank screen upon which the opponents projected the contrast and comparison they needed for their argument.

Image used under a CC license from Flickr user vendrán mañana

Image used under a CC license from Flickr user vendrán mañana

For Republicans, Afghanistan was Iraq’s little brother, mostly ignored but useful as illustration for the case that we’re fighting a global, interconnected War on Terror. For most Democrats and Obama supporters, meanwhile, Afghanistan has become “the good war”, the other war, the war you do support. The waning fortunes of the allied troops in Afghanistan appear most only as useful demonstration for the argument that Bush dropped the ball on Al-Qaeda and that Iraq was a ‘distraction’.

Either way, the answer seems almost unanimous: we need to stay in Afghanistan. And finish the job. The Republicans think it’s important – they’re totally about the War on Terror. Hey, it was their idea! The Democrats, too, want to invest more resources in Afghanistan; their very urge to do so is the proof of their military toughness bona fides, the deflection of any accusation of pacifism.

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