Forget spending billions of dollars on spies and government propaganda; the best defense against jihad appears to be flooding the homes of young people with Desperate Housewives and David Letterman. That's the assessment of a WikiLeaks secret cable entitled "David Letterman: Agent of Influence" that found young Saudis "are fascinated by US culture in a way they never were before" because of the programs. The series are broadcast as part of Saudi Arabia's "war of ideas" against extremists, reports the Guardian.
The entertainment is proving far more effective in winning hearts and minds than the US government-funded station al-Hurra, which features long interviews with American politicians. "It's still all about the war of ideas here, and American programming is winning over ordinary Saudis in a way that al-Hurra and other US propaganda never could," two Saudi media executives told a US official, according to the cable. "Saudis are now very interested in the outside world and everybody wants to study in the US if they can."