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Paula, Lovely in Scarlet

Dear Paula Broadwell,

I can understand the confusion. You went to Afghanistan and for a while you lost your perspective and thought that you were the fortunate child of a modern culture, a new century where women could drive, study and write books. You figured that you can move around the world freely all the while letting your locks flow over your bare shoulders. You are young and sexy and smart, so why didn’t you take the American history class which taught that the Puritan movement hasn’t ended, it’s only gotten better dressed.

You, Paula, are a sinner, a godless philanderer, a scarlet-lettered harlot who will pay forever more for your wanton sins. When push comes to shove, your gaping neck line is being juxtaposed with the matronly, goodly woman, the real wife (who is known in Afghanistan as the first wife). But because it’s the 21st century we’ll find roundabout ways to blame and castigate you: you are a national security threat; you are the source of all peril for these United States and all those brave soldiers. It’s not about the sex, they’ll say. Its about trust. I suppose they didn’t print “In God-given sex we find solace” on your bank notes.

And where on earth might you have gotten the idea that it is okay to have sex with a married man? You surely don’t have time to watch television, so the rampant commonality of cheating on spouses and partners couldn’t possibly affect your behavioural choices, even if it drives the cultural norms of your society.

Perhaps you have been watching or listening to your neighbours and friends. Research that followed 20,000 Americans for 15 years, showed that 28% of men and 15% of women cheated on their spouses (University of Washington, 2008). And those are considered conservative findings. Statistically, that means that at least 1 in 4 generals and CIA chiefs will have had an affair. Probably more if you account for long work hours, being on the road (or out of the country) a lot and the crazy adrenalin of doing what they do.

I’m not saying that cheating is alright. I’m certainly not under the impression that many innocent individuals won’t get hurt by your selfish choice. I’d just like to know how many of the stone-throwing crowd are themselves pure of all infidelity.

I guess with all your successes and your proven skill, you failed to learn that one big Westpoint lesson: don’t get caught!


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