Congressman Charlie Wilson represents the second congressional district in Texas. For those few who know or know of him, he is seen as a lightweight congressman, who is more than willing to sell his votes in the house. As such, he has collected more IOUs than any other congressman. He is also an illicit drug user and womanizer, who staffs his office with attractive young women. He is able to get away with all this behavior since little scrutiny is placed on him because no one pays any attention to him. In 1980, he begins an interest in the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan after seeing network news reports and speaking to one of his women friends, the wealthy Joanne Herring, a right wing, fundamentalist Christian zealot. He is dismayed to learn that the US has no official policy on the Afghan situation, only supporting the Afghan side of the war - the mujahideen - with a meager $10 million. And within the CIA, there is only an unofficial and clandestine policy of wanting to bleed the Soviets at the expense of the Afghan people. Charlie wants to speak to a high ranking CIA official about the situation, but instead is sent Gust Avrakotos, a committed but disgruntled CIA operative working the Afghan file, whose appointment was not meant to be meritorious. Charlie and Gust end up working together on a covert mission toward the common goal of arming and training the mujahideen to defeat the Soviets. Gust works the strategic side within the CIA, and Charlie, calling in whatever favor he can, works the political and diplomatic side. Charlie's tasks are not easy as he has to bring together not only disparate but often hostile opposing political and religious forces to achieve his goal. Charlie learns that his personal life may come back to haunt him, and that winning the war may come with unexpected consequences.