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Marketing war

March 27, 2010

A leaked CIA document suggests recruiting Afghan women to help drum up support for the war in Afghanistan. The intelligence agency is concerned about waning enthusiasm for the NATO effort, especially in Europe.

German troops in Afghanistan
European nations are reluctant to send more troops to AfghanistanImage: AP

In an effort to convince skeptical Europeans to support the NATO-led war effort in Afghanistan, the CIA is calling for the recruitment of Afghan women to act as public relations ambassadors, according to a document leaked Friday.

"Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing" the mission for European audiences, according to a CIA report posted on whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks.

The report, dated March 11, suggested that the views of Afghan women, with "their aspirations for the future and fears of a Taliban victory," would help garner backing for the Afghan war in Europe, particularly in countries like Germany and France where support is waning. The report cites the recent fall of the Dutch government over its troop commitment as proof of the "fragility" of European support.

"The tone of previous debate suggests that a spike in French or German casualties or in Afghan civilian casualties could become a tipping point in converting passive opposition into active calls for immediate withdrawal," the report said. Germany and France maintain the third and fourth largest troop deployments in Afghanistan.

A focus on Germany

Among other things, the document says marketing efforts and media exposure in Germany could emphasize how an international retreat could be damaging to the country's welfare.

"For example, messages that illustrate how a defeat in Afghanistan could heighten Germany's exposure to terrorism, opium and refugees might help to make the war more salient to skeptics," the report said.

The Central Intelligence Agency wouldn't confirm or deny whether the document was genuine.

The non-profit WikiLeaks, which offers a forum for anonymously posted confidential documents, has in the past been named as a threat to military operations and US security, according to Britain's Daily Telegraph.

Editor: Sonia Phalnikar