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"She wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan."
July 29, 2010 2:10 PM   Subscribe

"I showed it to my two young sons, 9 and 12, who both immediately felt sorry for Aisha and asked why anyone would have done such harm to her." [WARNING: Graphic image.] Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time magazine, on why he chose to run on the magazine's cover a photo of a young woman whose nose and ears had been cut off at the insistence of the Taliban. It accompanies the article "Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban."
posted by ocherdraco (142 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
"What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan" is a bit leading for a title, eh?
posted by nomadicink at 2:14 PM on July 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


Misleading, even.

I agree with Atrios: Time can't die soon enough for me.
posted by Eyebeams at 2:18 PM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


At the risk of being an imperialist, why not just round up all the women in Afghanistan and relocate them somewhere else? Presumably the Taliban problem would take care of itself in 30-ish years.
posted by GuyZero at 2:18 PM on July 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


I'm truly thrilled they're focusing so much attention on the women of Afghanistan. Is this part of a series? Am asking because of this post I made on 7/9.
posted by zarq at 2:18 PM on July 29, 2010


"What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan" is a bit leading for a title, eh?

Especially considering it happened while they were still there.

I actually originally read it as the girl saying that the Afghans get mutilated if they try to leave the country or something. It didn't occur to me that Time would be saying the other thing.
posted by Wataki at 2:19 PM on July 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


At the risk of being an imperialist, why not just round up all the women in Afghanistan and relocate them somewhere else?

Does not wendell.
posted by mek at 2:21 PM on July 29, 2010


"What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan" is a bit leading for a title, eh?

There are many vested interests in keeping American taxpayers funding the war on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the mainstream media is just one among them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:21 PM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'd also like to point out that the photo is intentionally reminiscent of Steve McCurry's 1984 National Geographic photo "Afghan Girl."
posted by ocherdraco at 2:23 PM on July 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


I don't really care about the framing of the post, or the politics of the Afghan war. Well, I do, but there's no real value in discussing it. I am posting only to quote this:

Aisha's family members carried out the punishment.

posted by doublehappy at 2:24 PM on July 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yeah, yeah, yeah, graphic and disturbing, blah blah blah, what will children think, yak yak yak, what a horrific image, etc.

That is an amazing photograph of an amazing and brave young woman, and nose or not, my immediate reaction upon seeing her was a surprised, "She's beautiful!" followed by my eyes welling up with tears not for what she's been through but for how courageous she still looks.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:24 PM on July 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


...my immediate reaction upon seeing her was a surprised, "She's beautiful!" followed by my eyes welling up with tears not for what she's been through but for how courageous she still looks.

And then I read the text next to it and wanted to put my fist through my monitor.
posted by The Straightener at 2:26 PM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


You guys do know that you can both be vocal critics of our particular policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan AND opposed to the sort of inhuman brutality that prompted this particular horror visited on this particular woman, right?

... right? Sorry, grind away. Those axes will not grind themselves.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:29 PM on July 29, 2010 [20 favorites]


Although I have to say that the internet seems to have pushed forward the boundaries of what's considered acceptable for publication in terms of journalistic photos. A mere few years ago you'd never, ever see a dead body in a photo. Now The Big Picture publishes them routinely under a click-through warning. I think there's a real meaningful change going on in terms of what people are willing to confront and how it affects their opinions of wars like this. Time may suck, but I think this is more than just shock-factor journalism on their part.
posted by GuyZero at 2:30 PM on July 29, 2010


and I say this as someone who thinks Time ranks somewhere between the National Enquirer and irrelevant.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:30 PM on July 29, 2010


... and as someone with a loved one currently under fire in Afghanistan, I also am sympathetic to critiques of the framing Time used with respect to the cover copy, but come on ...
posted by joe lisboa at 2:33 PM on July 29, 2010


Yeah her beauty almost make the reality of the photo hard to take in or truly see and accept. The dissonance is so harsh.

This is one of the reasons I hesitate to say the U.S. should pull out of Afghanistan completely. The Taliban really cannot, CANNOT be allowed to come back into power. Are we really forgetting the shit they did, the barbaric oppression towards women, the destruction of ancient art, the allowing of Al Quaeda to thrive in it's midst?

Seems to me the answer to Afghanistan is clear. Arm and train their women to use guns and rifles and artillery, and destroy, and defend themselves against any and all Wahabist/Taliban insanity. At least give each woman a handgun....
posted by Skygazer at 2:34 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Time may suck, but I think this is more than just shock-factor journalism on their part.

This picture is published under this : " Joke line on the challenge in Pakistan".

I'm pretty sure Time does, in fact, suck.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:35 PM on July 29, 2010


You guys do know that you can both be vocal critics of our particular policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan AND opposed to the sort of inhuman brutality that prompted this particular horror visited on this particular woman, right?

Are you fucking kidding me? Yeah, dude, we're aware. Thanks, though.
posted by The Straightener at 2:35 PM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Are we really forgetting the shit they did

If by "we" you mean the USA, no, the USA has not forgotten consider they paid for most of it.
posted by GuyZero at 2:36 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Put her in the Man Factory
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:36 PM on July 29, 2010


There are many vested interests in keeping American taxpayers funding the war on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the mainstream media is just one among them.

What is the mainstream media's interest in keeping American taxpayers funding the wars? It's not like it's getting them a huge amount of ratings, considering how rarely the wars make the news.
posted by JHarris at 2:37 PM on July 29, 2010


You guys do know that you can both be vocal critics of our particular policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan AND opposed to the sort of inhuman brutality that prompted this particular horror visited on this particular woman, right?

Sorry, joe, the form at the bottom of this page isn't the right way to send a letter to the editor to Time magazine.
posted by ibmcginty at 2:37 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maybe I have a crazy faith in humanity, but there must be many Taliban who would see a picture like that and repudiate this outrageous violence.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:37 PM on July 29, 2010


Are you fucking kidding me? Yeah, dude, we're aware. Thanks, though.

I was not trying to condescend, but the tenor of many of the comments so far suggested that this needed pointing out. You may be well aware, sir, but clearly not everyone is. Apologies if I gave offense (and not in the mealy-mouthed sense, but in the sincere sense).
posted by joe lisboa at 2:38 PM on July 29, 2010


"What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan"?

Damn. Shameless.

This happened while we were still in Afghanistan, you Time propaganda whores.
posted by Decani at 2:39 PM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


I am going to have to recuse myself from this thread, not in any kind of grandstanding way or anything, but just because it hits too close to home on multiple fronts. Have a good night, all. With all sincerity. Cheers!
posted by joe lisboa at 2:40 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm suggesting that an American mission civilatrice suggested by the Time article might be less effective than the regular transformative processes brought about by the free flow of information.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:41 PM on July 29, 2010


And it's rather amazing that Time can show such a provocative image on their cover, while offering nary a view of the mounting stack of American corpses.
posted by JHarris at 2:42 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


You guys do know that you can both be vocal critics of our particular policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan AND opposed to the sort of inhuman brutality that prompted this particular horror visited on this particular woman, right?

I recognize this as one of many egregious human rights abuses committed by religious extremists, but I can also hold two ideas in my head and see this as probable propaganda that aims to manipulate the reader's emotions, so that readers are less likely to think logically about the issues at hand.

Granted, it's hard to argue for a logical response to the mutilation of another human being, but I still can't help but acknowledge the fact that people's emotions are being manipulated. If that gets dismissed as axe grinding, there's not much I can do about that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:42 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I know, what they did to her sucks. What our bombs do to people suck too. Lay out for me the strategy our military can take to protect Afghan women and I'll say we can stay.

We don't need reasons for Afghanistan, 9/11 is still a good justification, what we need a realistic strategy.

We aren't the world's Mommy and Daddy and we can't fix everything. Time, if you can't tell me how we can win...there is no why we should stay.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:42 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


People are surprised that TIME would run such a leading headline next to such a shocking picture. We can't leave, think of the women!

As doublehappy notes, her family did this to her, and like the story of the Iraq woman in the US who was killed by her father, these atrocities are going to happen totally independently of any war anywhere.

The headline and the picture seems to suggest that TIME was already arguing for prolonging the war, and now sees this photo as a convenient way to sway the masses. But why is TIME taking this position in the first place? Isn't the war unpopular?

Because college readers, new readers, intellectually engaged readers will never read TIME again. Readers will will read Atrios or reddit or a billion other sources of news online. But not TIME magazine. So who is still reading TIME? People who still have not jumped ship to the web.

Required Reading: Diffusion of Innovations

See Fig. 1. The web is now 15+ years old. If you started reading news online in 1994, you were an innovator. If you started in 1996, you were an early adopter. If you started in 2000, you are in the early majority. 2004-2006, you are in the late majority. If your primary source of news in 2010 is not the web, you are a laggard.

So who are the laggards? From Wikipedia:
Laggards typically tend to be focused on “traditions”, have lowest social status, lowest financial fluidity, oldest of all other adopters, in contact with only family and close friends, very little to no opinion leadership.
I have not seen this issue of TIME, but I am so certain of exactly the kinds of stories I will find in it, as well as the products advertised.

To understand who is listening to what is said is to understand why it is being said. But you don't actually have to know what is said. I have not read this article. Why would I? It isn't for me. Or you.

Mark my words: the content of more dead-tree media outlets will turn conservative/traditional before they ultimately die or get re-engineered into on-line only outlets (like the NY Times is doing).

As culture becomes increasingly tied to technology, Diffusion of Innovations will become one of the most important texts for understanding society.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:47 PM on July 29, 2010 [23 favorites]


The first thing I thought of when I read the description of the picture was a terrible story from history that has haunted me for years. The English held 200 Welsh children sent to them as peace insurance. When that peace bond was broken, the retaliation was swift; all the boy children were castrated and blinded, all the girl children had their ears, noses, and lips cut off. And then they were sent back to their families.

Through the years I've thought about that incident often. What happened to those children? Clearly they could not marry. Were they welcomed back with loving embraces? Were they sent off to religious orders? Were they kept hidden in the deepest rooms of the family homes, never to see the light of day again? I wonder too about the men who carried out the order. What kind of man cuts the nose, ears, and lips of a four year old girl? How did they live with themselves after?

Perhaps a major derail, perhaps a gentle reminder that The Taliban is not the first group to carry out such barbaric punishment.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:48 PM on July 29, 2010 [34 favorites]


What is the mainstream media's interest in keeping American taxpayers funding the wars? It's not like it's getting them a huge amount of ratings, considering how rarely the wars make the news.
posted by JHarris at 5:37 PM on July 29


The mainstream media's interest is in running a profit in a world where there is no such thing as "mainstream media." You are a print magazine. Who buys print magazines? What do they want the articles to say? And so that's what the articles say.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:49 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Assume, then, that we will leave Afghanistan in a few years. The Taliban is making increasing inroads in Pakistan. Honor killings take place in many Muslim majority nations. Are we to police the world to end this madness? Just asking.
posted by Postroad at 3:00 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are a print magazine. Who buys print magazines?

If Time was just a print magazine, there would be no links from which to create a front-page post. In any case, Time is owned by Time Warner, a multinational media company that owns a global network of cable, print, web and other news channels for distributing whatever viewpoint its owners wish to put forward.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:01 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The removal of the Taliban from power in Afghanistan was an acceptable (IMO) response to their apparent support of those behind the 9/11 attacks. But that's done. The Taliban are not the Afghan government any more.
The revised goal for the occupying forces in Afghanistan now seems to be the eradication of all supporters of the Taliban and Islamist government in general. This is impossible. If we don't change that goal we'll be there forever.
posted by rocket88 at 3:03 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


“invade and conquer southern and eastern Afghanistan” is neither a practical nor a cost-effective means of enhancing the well-being of the world’s women. You go to war for reasons of national security. Those reasons either stand up to scrutiny or they don’t.
posted by ghharr at 3:05 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


there must be many Taliban who would see a picture like that and repudiate this outrageous violence.

It is no secret that this is what the Taliban is doing. They have been murdering or mutilating women and old men since before they were in power. When you join the Taliban, you are aligning yourself with murderers of women, the elderly, and children. There are people in this world whose motivations are so perverse that they may as well be alien, and the Taliban are among them. We Westerners assume that most people want, deep down, the same things we do. We are wrong.
posted by 1adam12 at 3:06 PM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


When you join the Taliban, you are aligning yourself with murderers of women, the elderly, and children.

I don't think the Taliban really has a list or something, they're simply brutal about enforcing their rules. I'm pretty sure they fuck up a lot of middle-age men too.
posted by GuyZero at 3:09 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This article is, like, 400 words long.

TIME, I would like to know more about Aisha and the women of Afghanistan, please!!?

Jebus, what a crap magazine.
posted by sayitwithpie at 3:12 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy, what historical event was this? Not Llywelyn's revolt?
posted by MrBobaFett at 3:15 PM on July 29, 2010


GuyZero: the internet seems to have pushed forward the boundaries of what's considered acceptable for publication in terms of journalistic photos. A mere few years ago you'd never, ever see a dead body in a photo.

I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you--are you saying that newspapers and magazines, until a few years ago, had never published photos of dead bodies, during wartime? Or during peacetime, for that matter? Because if so, that's simply untrue. Can you clarify?
posted by tzikeh at 3:17 PM on July 29, 2010


The Taliban are responsible for 10x the civilian deaths as ISAF forces. Prior to the US invasion the Taliban were murdering upwards of 100k civilians / year. This is probably higher than the entire civilian death toll during ISAF mission (including those murdered by Taliban). Tell me again why we are supposed to withdraw from this place and leave these thugs to fight it out amongst themselves. How do you sleep at night advocating for an action that will surely lead to a genocide and humanitarian catastrophe?
posted by humanfont at 3:22 PM on July 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Too late. I'll happily accept that we should legalize drugs and grow poppies in the U.S. so the evil Afghanis don't earn any money off heroin. I'm not prepared to vote for more Americans to die there. Don't get me wrong. I've no issue with the Taliban, their imams, etc. all being exterminated. I'm just unwilling to tell an American that his job is murdering practitioners of an evil religion.

If you'd like a serious proposal, women and gay men from repressive islamic regimes should have refugee rights far above straight men from even war torn countries, also above family reunification. Why? Easy, we award refugee status based upon our desire to improve the world, not just because someone had a raw deal.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:25 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tell me again why we are supposed to withdraw from this place and leave these thugs to fight it out amongst themselves.

Tell me how we win.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:25 PM on July 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Legalize drugs. Taliban, Colombian Paramilitaries, and Mexican cartels run out of money. Everybody wins.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:28 PM on July 29, 2010 [15 favorites]


There's a lot of pop psychology about how humans are inherently moral beings and even some talk about how we might even be born with an innate sense of right and wrong. Certainly we always act with our own bests interests at heart. So I guess what puzzles me about barbarity along these lines is, a) What moral purpose does it serve? and b) Why has it been permitted to continue for so very long? Naturally the most obvious answer will be batshit crazy religious beliefs, but I don't know if that's good enough any more. Are a lot of these alleged men are raised to hate women, despite their mothers and sisters being women, or are they born with an inherent backwards moralism and an innate, yet fucked up, sense of right and wrong? I know I'm entering territory that is going to have people falling over themselves to call me racist or imperialist and likely we'll hear some talk about relatavism but seriously, what the fuck? A lot of cultures came about and went along for hundreds of years doing seriously fucked up things but then most of them stopped. So why hasn't this stopped?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:28 PM on July 29, 2010


I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you--are you saying that newspapers and magazines, until a few years ago, had never published photos of dead bodies, during wartime? Or during peacetime, for that matter? Because if so, that's simply untrue. Can you clarify?

yes, that's more or less what I was saying. I guess it may not be exactly true but I think it's become more common now than it was before. To be fair, I wasn't around to read newspapers back during Vietnam or WWII so perhaps I suffer from sampling bias. Putting a woman who has had her nose cut off on the cover of a major national magazine (whether it otherwise sucks or not) is novel I think.
posted by GuyZero at 3:29 PM on July 29, 2010


Why not have a photograph of any of the brutalized people in the Republic of the Congo and say "What happens when we don't invade the Congo."

Economic inequality, imperialism, and the drug war are the things that cause terrorism -- not a lack of American adventurism.
posted by codacorolla at 3:32 PM on July 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


The Taliban are fucking awful. Pretty much always have been, and doubly so since they started to run Afghanistan. I've said it many times before, but I remember signing petitions asking the US government to officially take them to task, whether it be through political action or through encouragement of UN intervention, or hell... just about anything. The poor young lady on the cover of this magazine is an example of the cruelty out there, but far from the only one. Weekly executions took place in now-unused soccer fields after the Taliban took charge. There were several accounts of men who were outed (or "outed") as homosexuals being forced to stand against a brick wall -- and then a tank was driven over the other side of the wall.

The remarkable thing isn't the cruelty of the Taliban, but the throwback, unsustainable nature of it. You don't continue running a country by acting like cavemen outcasts who have been given cruise missiles, but they have done so.
posted by mikeh at 3:32 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I guess what puzzles me about barbarity along these lines is, a) What moral purpose does it serve? and b) Why has it been permitted to continue for so very long? Naturally the most obvious answer will be batshit crazy religious beliefs, but I don't know if that's good enough any more.

Societies and civilizations must pass through phases on the way to utopia as they work out their way toward the best possible outcome that serves individual self-interest and the goal of the stable continuation of that society.

Or at least, that's what I got out of Star Trek.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:37 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tell me how we win.

Using time tested policing oriented tactics that work towards increasing security for local populations or an expanding area, while working to bring moderate elements into civil power structures through negotiation and incentives. Combine this with work to reduce corruption and improve the effectiveness of indiginous and local groups that are opposed to the Taliban. It has been done hundred of places and throughout history. Counter insurgency is painful, expensive and difficult; but in the end it can be won.
posted by humanfont at 3:44 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


God told them to do this.
posted by pianomover at 3:44 PM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Using time tested policing oriented tactics that work towards increasing security for local populations or an expanding area

Such as.

while working to bring moderate elements into civil power structures through negotiation and incentives.

But they are already full of corrupt bureaucrats we thought were moderate elements.

Combine this with work to reduce corruption and improve the effectiveness of indiginous and local groups that are opposed to the Taliban.

How?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:46 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


It doesn't take much to make people act cruelly. As The Secret Life of Gravy's example and many others both modern and past attest, people are easily induced to participate in some seriously horrific shit. It was not all that long ago that a lynching was considered a fine form of family entertainment, or before that that public executions would draw crowds of thousands. There is a long and rich history of torture practiced by all the major organizations of great power that have endured for very long, regardless of their stated motivations.

The world's militaries have proven that the vast majority of people of any age and both sexes can be quickly and easily conditioned to kill. Only a tiny minority of people are so resistant to the siren call of violence that they will refuse to participate, particularly when the threat is clear that failure to participate could make you the next victim. Nearly all of us can be pushed into it, and there is always a minority of people who are naturally inclined to do the pushing.

The wonder isn't that a whole modern civilized nation sat by and watched as their leaders perpetrated the Holocaust; the wonder is that it doesn't happen more often.
posted by localroger at 3:52 PM on July 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


So I guess what puzzles me about barbarity along these lines is, a) What moral purpose does it serve? and b) Why has it been permitted to continue for so very long? Naturally the most obvious answer will be batshit crazy religious beliefs, but I don't know if that's good enough any more.

Societies and civilizations must pass through phases on the way to utopia as they work out their way toward the best possible outcome that serves individual self-interest and the goal of the stable continuation of that society.

Or at least, that's what I got out of Star Trek.


Well, I actually think you are on the right track. The cultures that form the roots of the Western, Judeo-Christian world were doing shit like this at least a few hundred years ago if not even more recently.

I am going to have to recuse myself from this thread, not in any kind of grandstanding way or anything

Hey, if you weren't grandstanding, why would you have made the post instead of just leaving?
posted by mreleganza at 3:54 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, if you weren't grandstanding, why would you have made the post instead of just leaving?

Because I fancy myself self-aware enough to know I would be tempted to rise to the bait of others and thereby detract from the overall quality of the thread? I cannot even attempt to fathom why it would validate you to call out a good-natured bowing-out from a contentious thread, but whatever gets you through the night, dude. I remain, cordially yours, me.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:13 PM on July 29, 2010


But they are already full of corrupt bureaucrats we thought were moderate elements.

You don't need to eliminate all corruption; but you can reduce it over time to give people confidence in their government. Better management of data, oversight and auditing practices can always be used to root out specific examples.

Combine this with work to reduce corruption and improve the effectiveness of indigenous and local groups that are opposed to the Taliban.

The recent work to develop local militias, rather than rely on troops from far away regions is one example.
posted by humanfont at 4:37 PM on July 29, 2010


secretlifeofgravy can i get a source on that english/welsh castration-of-children peace bond story? googled around, found nothing.
posted by jcruelty at 4:39 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


How do you sleep at night advocating for an action that will surely lead to a genocide and humanitarian catastrophe?

This is a trolling line in a thread about a trolling article, but since it's already a troll-ridden clusterfuck in here, I may as well take a wee nibble . . .

The only time in living memory that there has been anything other than a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan was in the years before the Soviet invasion. Since then, it has been a pawn in several larger geopolitical games, one of which was a more or less direct cause of the Taliban's founding and early success. (About the only thing average Afghans have ever liked about the pre-9/11 Taliban is at least they brought the brutal bloodshed of the civil war under control.)

For eight years now, a multinational military force has employed precisely the strategy you advocate, humanfont, and it has culminated in a failure so total that the Taliban is resurgent, schools for girls are now routinely shuttered, and horrific violence like what happened to this girl Aisha is again on the rise.

Again: the root cause of Afghanistan's humanitarian catastrophe is the military intervention of foreign powers. It has been demonstrated, at length, during what has been the longest military action my country (Canada) has engaged in since World War II, that continued military intervention - even the policing-and-alliance-building kind you're chest-thumping for - is wholly incapable of sorting out the problems it has itself created in Afghanistan.

So how do I sleep? Soundly. About the only thing that disturbs it is the clang of empty sanctimony.
posted by gompa at 4:40 PM on July 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding you--are you saying that newspapers and magazines, until a few years ago, had never published photos of dead bodies, during wartime? Or during peacetime, for that matter? Because if so, that's simply untrue. Can you clarify?

One of the takeaways from Vietnam was that pictures of dead and dying US servicemen alarmed civilians. The rules against them date from after that police action. Before that, say WW2, the government had less problem with it, Roosevelt believing that it would stir righteous outrage in the people and make them want to kill more Japs.

The English held 200 Welsh children sent to them as peace insurance. When that peace bond was broken, the retaliation was swift; all the boy children were castrated and blinded, all the girl children had their ears, noses, and lips cut off. And then they were sent back to their families.

Don't know the specific story, but it sounds like SOP for Norman (French) kings dealing with treasonous nobles. Just to make the story a little more disturbing, consider that the Welsh knew damn well what was going to happen to their kids but pushed on regardless. Sorry kids, had to be done. Thanks for doing your bit.

Mind you, that was war stuff, this is civil stuff, that was then, this is now. In the interim, the British went to India and put a stop to suttee. Granted, incidental to other stuff, but they still did it.

Which gets us around to the real question, do we want to take up the White Man's Burden in Afghanistan?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:44 PM on July 29, 2010


As lawmakers and citizens begin to sort through the information about the war and make up their minds, our job is to provide context and perspective on one of the most difficult foreign policy issues of our time. What you see in these pictures and our story is something that you cannot find in those 91,000 documents: a combination of emotional truth and insight into the way life is lived in that difficult land and the consequences of the important decisions that lie ahead.
She is no more a part of this war's context than the hundreds of thousands of women raped and mutilated in the Congo.

This is the war's context, a 50-100 year campaign planned by* the Neocons to topple rising Mideast powers and control natural resources.

While we stare at this victim of the Taliban, we ignore the tens of thousands of innocents that this war has killed. That is context, and this article by Time is propaganda.

*See "The PNAC Paper Trail"
posted by silvicolous at 4:45 PM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]



You don't need to eliminate all corruption; but you can reduce it over time to give people confidence in their government. Better management of data, oversight and auditing practices can always be used to root out specific examples.


You think with auditing and data management you are going to root out corruption directly linked to the global opium trade? Do you know what happens when you get rid of one drug dealer?


The recent work to develop local militias, rather than rely on troops from far away regions is one example.


The locals lacking arms has never been a problem in Afghanistan.

Now that we solved corruption with audits and security by forming tribal militias out of the control of the central government, how will you handle the Taliban strongholds in Pakistan their government refuses to handle?

You said this type of thing has been done before, got any examples for me?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:51 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Women have no noses. They will eat shit."
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:53 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This article is, like, 400 words long.

TIME, I would like to know more about Aisha and the women of Afghanistan, please!!?



The following is an abridged version of an article that appears in the Aug. 9, 2010, print and iPad editions of TIME magazine.


Better pay up, then.
posted by Evilspork at 4:57 PM on July 29, 2010


A Response to Controversial 'Time' Cover: What ALSO Happens If We Leave Afghanistan
posted by homunculus at 4:59 PM on July 29, 2010


I'd just like to add that I've met Richard Stengel, and he's kind of a dick.
posted by desuetude at 5:06 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]



Using time tested policing oriented tactics that work towards increasing security for local populations or an expanding area, while working to bring moderate elements into civil power structures through negotiation and incentives. Combine this with work to reduce corruption and improve the effectiveness of indiginous and local groups that are opposed to the Taliban. It has been done hundred of places and throughout history. Counter insurgency is painful, expensive and difficult; but in the end it can be won.


sorry if i missed it upthread, but what are a couple of historical examples of this?
i'm not trying to make an argument; I would like examples because then I could with good faith support a counter insurgency strategy. But what is in my head is Vietnam, Algeria, and the number of nations that have tried and failed to govern Afghanistan.
posted by angrycat at 5:07 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be fair, I wasn't around to read newspapers back during Vietnam or WWII so perhaps I suffer from sampling bias. Putting a woman who has had her nose cut off on the cover of a major national magazine (whether it otherwise sucks or not) is novel I think.

I thought it was probably your age, GuyZero.

The pictures published during Vietnam were indeed brutally, shockingly explicit - I accidentally came across some when I was a kid - a whole ghastly spread of them - in a news magazine my parents had just received. (I believe they could well have been of the My Lai massacre - which were made public a year later in 1969, acc, to wiki).

I remember this because, after I glimpsed the appalling images (which gave me nightmares), I first hid the magazine. Then I tried to burn it. I genuinely got it into my head (I was around nine) that my liberal, very vocal, fiercely anti-war parents would be angry with me for being too squeamish to face the horror of Vietnam depicted - and would want to talk to me about the pictures, and look at them in detail, to "make me understand"!

So I set fire to a load of balled up newspapers in our garden & threw the magazine on top - and there was a lot of smoke.

I ended up getting into a lot trouble with my parents for a) starting a fire in the garden without permission and b) hiding a magazine that was addressed to them, and - above all -c) for coming up with such an insulting load of nonsense that they were the sort of liberal fascists who would have forced me look at the pictures!!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:23 PM on July 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


humanfront: seems like you're the spokesperson today for feigned moral outrage, so maybe you can help me out.

Forget that we helped to destroy Afghanistan in a proxy war with Russia. Forget that we abandoned the Afghan people after the Soviets were no longer in the picture, and that because of that, many of the radical fundamentalists we trained and equipped are now our sworn enemies. Forget that we sat by and did as little as possible while Afghan society collapsed, and this power vacuum is one of the reasons the only political element that could instill order - the Taliban - became the de facto rulers of Afghanistan in the 90s.

What I want to ask is, if we gave the Taliban 40,000,000 in May of 2001, how did they become immoral tyrants merely five months later? Did they only start honor killings that summer? I'm pretty sure that had turned all soccer fields into execution displays before then. I'm also fairly certain that they had closed down schools for girls, outlawed music, were stoning adulterers to death, and had blown up one of the most massive ancient Buddhist sculptures in the world as a show of their total religious intolerance.

So the question remains, why did our attitude towards the Taliban change so radically? If 9/11 is your answer, then you will continue to misunderstand why "terrorists" hate America instead of freedom, and why the Afghans will continue to fight any foreign occupation, as they have done for the last thousand years.

The reality is that from 1978, when we first started supplying radical Islamic elements, right up until September 10th, 2001, we didn't care about people like this poor girl. Or if we did, we cared about the political outcomes available to us for supporting those men far more than we did about the beliefs they happened to have. Until that changes - until we show through actions that the injustices perpetrated by our political allies matter to us more than our economic security, we will be hated and bitterly opposed worldwide. Just like every empire before us, and every empire that will follow.
posted by atypicalguy at 5:50 PM on July 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


[few comments removed. you know the drill.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:51 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was her inlaws that did this to her. People she fled because they were abusing her in the first place.

Whether we go or stay this kind of crap will happen in this part of the world. I will leave it to you to debate why. I'm too busy being enraged right now.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:58 PM on July 29, 2010


Clearly one option is to give all Afghan women who want to go somewhere else the chance leave. This would be comparable to Lincoln finally admitting his war was about slavery. This would also infuriate the Taliban, because it targets the backward cause of their successful war. The Taliban keep women by force, not charm. We stand to gain so much from their loss that it counts as a total war strategy, and it only costs us anything if we succeed.
posted by Brian B. at 6:11 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The English held 200 Welsh children sent to them as peace insurance. When that peace bond was broken, the retaliation was swift; all the boy children were castrated and blinded, all the girl children had their ears, noses, and lips cut off. And then they were sent back to their families.

Maybe you're thinking of this? I can't find anything about the number of hostages, however.
posted by Evangeline at 6:28 PM on July 29, 2010


To be fair, I wasn't around to read newspapers back during Vietnam or WWII so perhaps I suffer from sampling bias. Putting a woman who has had her nose cut off on the cover of a major national magazine (whether it otherwise sucks or not) is novel I think.

A graphic picture of a murdered police officer ran on the front page of St. Paul's Pioneer Press in 1953. Five years earlier, a gory photo of a shotgun suicide occupied the same spot.

Larry Millett's Strange Days, Dangerous Nights makes a convincing case that neither of these images were out of the ordinary in the papers at the time - he notes that, "a taste for lurid, violent imagery [was] one of the most unsettling features of much 'respectable' journalism in the 1940s and 1950s. ... Pictures of shot, stabbed, burned, beaten, mutilated, and even decomposed corpses regularly appeared ..."

This apparently started to change in the late 60s, as the relationship between reporters and the police became more distant and adversarial, crime scene management became more tight and professionalized, and papers became more responsive to reader complaints.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:36 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


turgid dahlia : a) What moral purpose does it serve? and b) Why has it been permitted to continue for so very long?

Social order, once upon a time (a time that ended 300+ years ago, and I might accept 3000+), had more value to perpetuating the species than did the rights of any individual.

As for why this crap has lasted so long - For the same reason that America's "Peculiar Institution" discouraged educating slaves. Sure, an educated slave can theoretically do more for you - But they might also start getting such perverse notions as wondering why you own them, rather than them owning you.


Naturally the most obvious answer will be batshit crazy religious beliefs, but I don't know if that's good enough any more.

No, that pretty much works just fine. Just replace "slave" with "believer" in the above. And if still in doubt, look at how many US politicians can denounce evolution in public and not only don't we run them out town, they do well in elections. If not for the simple fact that their sad delusions put them at a competitive disadvantage, I'd worry about us, nevermind Afghanistan.

Then again, who has it right? Look at the net cash flow between the red and blue states, and tell me who has it better - The ones who can support the losers, or those who get to parasitically leech off our efforts?


I know I'm entering territory that is going to have people falling over themselves to call me racist or imperialist and likely we'll hear some talk about relatavism but seriously, what the fuck?

Heh, join the club. How dare you say such things? All ideas, even batshit crazy wrong ones, have equal value in our fluffy happy ideal universe. Turn in your card immediately!


A lot of cultures came about and went along for hundreds of years doing seriously fucked up things but then most of them stopped. So why hasn't this stopped?

For the same reason that we still have monkeys, despite having evolved from them.
posted by pla at 6:55 PM on July 29, 2010


Moral relativism defending things like female circumcision and Muslim oppression of women is kind of a straw man.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:59 PM on July 29, 2010


All this extremism makes me want to shun society and go live in a cave.
posted by JV at 7:08 PM on July 29, 2010


[comment removed - pla, please don't start talking about hitler, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 7:18 PM on July 29, 2010


secretlifeofgravy can i get a source on that english/welsh castration-of-children peace bond story? googled around, found nothing.

The only reference I can find on-line is from Violence, vulnerability and embodiment: gender and history
By Shani D'Cruze, Anupama Rao

"When in 1165 the Welsh Princes broke the peace, which they had sworn to Henry II, the King took revenge by mutilating Welsh hostages, castrating and blinding them if they were male, cutting off their ears and noses if they were female."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:18 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


[pla, you can cool it or we will cool it for you.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:22 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


War porn
posted by pianomover at 7:49 PM on July 29, 2010


If playing Civilization has taught me anything, it has taught me that when you cannot overwhelm an opponent with brute force...stop the fighting, open up, and overwhelm them with Culture until they want to change.
posted by nightchrome at 8:02 PM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


What I want to ask is, if we gave the Taliban 40,000,000 in May of 2001, how did they become immoral tyrants merely five months later? Did they only start honor killings that summer? I'm pretty sure that had turned all soccer fields into execution displays before then. I'm also fairly certain that they had closed down schools for girls, outlawed music, were stoning adulterers to death, and had blown up one of the most massive ancient Buddhist sculptures in the world as a show of their total religious intolerance.

A new US President and his administration made one of their first catastrophic mistakes. The Taliban were always immoral tyrants and we should have confronted them sooner. At some point if you don't take responsibility for your shit piles they have a way of falling on top of you.
posted by humanfont at 8:19 PM on July 29, 2010


TThe first thing I thought of when I read the description of the picture was a terrible story from history that has haunted me for years. The English held 200 Welsh children sent to them as peace insurance. When that peace bond was broken, the retaliation was swift; all the boy children were castrated and blinded, all the girl children had their ears, noses, and lips cut off. And then they were sent back to their families.

I was interested by this and looked it up. I'm fairly certain you're talking about Henry II's treatment of his Welsh hostages in 1165, and there seem to be several different accounts of that, differing in whether they say women were involved or not, and differing in what they mention besides blinding. Where I can see numbers given, I see twenty two hostages mentioned not 200, and it seems hard to be definite about ages. The son or daughter of a noble could be four or 24 - we can guess young but we don't know. There is plenty castrating and blinding of hostages to go around, and certainly we can guess that at least some would fit our definition of children, so it wouldn't affect your argument, but alarm bells ring for me when the figures suddenly seem to get an extra nought tacked on.

[on preview - it's too late at night here for me to go through all I saw linking but there's quite a bit beyond the reference you give here and here]
posted by Flitcraft at 8:23 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


[Fron scanning footnotes, I think two chronicles give accounts that women were mutilated too - Roger of Hoveden and the Chronicle of Melrose, but why prefer them over other chronicles which seem to be quite certain of names and numbers?]
posted by Flitcraft at 8:27 PM on July 29, 2010


A new US President and his administration made one of their first catastrophic mistakes. The Taliban were always immoral tyrants and we should have confronted them sooner. At some point if you don't take responsibility for your shit piles they have a way of falling on top of you.

Fair enough. There is an important corollary: let's say some Christian religious nutcase gets a hold of a whole flight group of the US Air Force that has a nuke, and tries to drop it on China in order to start the rapture.

At what point would you support a Chinese invasion? If they happened to overpower the US armed forces, and the only local elements that had any military resistance capability were Rapture militias, would you join up, or just roll over and let Beijing tell you how to organize your government?
posted by atypicalguy at 8:38 PM on July 29, 2010


I'll happily accept that we should legalize drugs and grow poppies in the U.S. so the evil Afghanis don't earn any money off heroin.

Afgan heroin flows to Europe, not the US.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:43 PM on July 29, 2010


Fair enough. There is an important corollary: let's say some Christian religious nutcase gets a hold of a whole flight group of the US Air Force that has a nuke, and tries to drop it on China in order to start the rapture. At what point would you support a Chinese invasion? If they happened to overpower the US armed forces, and the only local elements that had any military resistance capability were Rapture militias, would you join up, or just roll over and let Beijing tell you how to organize your government?

I'd join the anti-rapture death squads and support our Chinese liberators to stop these nut jobs from blowing up shopping malls and killing busloads of school children. You think we could get Bono to argue for a reduction of our trillion dollar debt?
posted by humanfont at 10:13 PM on July 29, 2010


What I want to ask is, if we gave the Taliban 40,000,000 in May of 2001, how did they become immoral tyrants merely five months later?

We gave them the money two months after they blew up the Buddhas of Bamyan.

To be fair, I wasn't around to read newspapers back during Vietnam or WWII so perhaps I suffer from sampling bias. Putting a woman who has had her nose cut off on the cover of a major national magazine (whether it otherwise sucks or not) is novel I think.

No photos of American dead appeared in major media during World War II until Life magazine published this iconic photo of dead Marines on Buna Beach in September 1943.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:17 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


What is the mainstream media's interest in keeping American taxpayers funding the wars?

their interest is to not rock the boat and lose access to information - or advertisers - they won't lead public opinion, they'll follow it
posted by pyramid termite at 10:47 PM on July 29, 2010


I'm with angrycat. If anyone has examples where the strategy humanfont describes has been successfully applied in a context like 21st-century Afghanistan, I'd like to know about them. I can think of a few cases where foreign occupying forces were successful at reconstruction after a devastating war ... but in each case, the occupiers were rebuilding systems and institutions that had existed before the war, they were making huge non-military investments in the occupied area, and they didn't have to contend with widespread ongoing insurgency. Those advantages don't exist in Afghanistan. What are some examples of occupations/reconstructions that succeeded in the face of similar obstacles?
posted by twirlip at 11:45 PM on July 29, 2010


White men who save brown women from brown men

Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving? Anthropological Reflections on Cultural Relativism and Its Others
posted by BobsterLobster at 12:15 AM on July 30, 2010


On the purpose and rightfulness of appeals to emotion:

I don't think that appeals to emotion are intrinsically wrong. Emotions give us reasons to live. They give us a measure of how good we're doing.

The problem is that emotions can very easily mislead. A picture of a woman with her nose and ears cut off OMG STOP THIS NOW WHATEVER THE COSTS FULL STEAM AHEAD.

It is extraordinarily bad, yes, but in our world there are many, many levels of evil. The greatest of all are not callous acts of violence. They are systemic evils, which turn the world upside-down and make horror seem reasonable, which on a profound level make the violence possible.

To charge in may in fact commit much greater misjustices, evils which make human dismemberment seem quaint. That is the path we followed into these interminable conflicts, and we aren't going to get out of them by continuing to fall for these kneejerk arguments.
posted by JHarris at 1:54 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If playing Civilization has taught me anything, it has taught me that when you cannot overwhelm an opponent with brute force

Only if you're playing III or later.
posted by JHarris at 2:01 AM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Successful modern counter insurgency campaigns include Peru, Turkey, Algeria and El Salvador among others. The Rand Corporation has written detailed case studies of successful and failed COIN operations looking at 30 modern insurgencies. The case studies include some good background on the various phases of Afghan civil war.
posted by humanfont at 4:15 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


BobsterLobster links to a paper by Lila Abu-Lughod. She writes at length about how veiling, and wearing the burqa in particular, is misunderstood by "us" - liberals and conservatives alike - and then reaches her core point:
It is deeply problematic to construct the Afghan woman as someone in need of saving, When you save someone, you imply that you are saving her from something, You are also saving her to something, What violences are entailed in this transformation, and what presumptions are being made about the superiority of that to which you are saving her? Projects of saving other women depend on and reinforce a sense of superiority by Westerners, a form of arrogance that deserves to be challenged.
Abu-Lughod's argument that the veil means different things to different people is engaging, but doesn't really touch on the other practices that Westerners find disturbing. The rhetoric and practice of 'saving' women may be misguided, even (horrors!) racist, but it's not obviously worse than outrages like the punitive mutilation of women by their families. By using the veil to stand for all that the West doesn't get about Afghanistan, Abu-Lughod strawmans the neo-liberal argument for forceful intervention in other cultures.
posted by topynate at 4:25 AM on July 30, 2010


Fuck religion. All religion. Fuck it, for all the hurt it causes. Nothing good.
posted by A189Nut at 4:39 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is, this is an ideological war, not a territorial one. The Taliban are just as well-placed in Pakistan (if not moreso) as they are in Afghanistan. Do we bring this humanitarian war there as well? And it's not like our allies in Saudi Arabia shy from horrific human rights violations in the name of Islamic fundamentalism -- do we start nation-building there as well? The question is not only "What do we do?" but also "Where does it end?"
posted by Legomancer at 5:35 AM on July 30, 2010


That photo hurts my heart.
posted by bwg at 5:51 AM on July 30, 2010


Saving from does not imply saving to. For example If I save you from choking, or being eaten by wild dogs or hit by the cross town bus, what exactly have I saved you towards. Have I denied you the pleasure of heaven with my arrogant assumption based on western norms that you would not seek to be smashed or shredded and is my introduction of free movement back into your airpipe is simply a cultural misunderstanding.
posted by humanfont at 6:03 AM on July 30, 2010


It happened before we got there. It's happening now. It's going to happen when we leave. Us being there or not being there isn't going to change barbaric thinking and practices. An uprising within the country to overthrow them, instill a better government, thinking, and punishment will.

She's a beautiful woman w/ or without the nose. I'm glad at least she's getting reconstructive surgery. Is she then moving here or going back to Afghanastan?
posted by stormpooper at 6:43 AM on July 30, 2010


Successful modern counter insurgency campaigns include Peru, Turkey, Algeria and El Salvador

With the exception of Algeria (which won its independence eventually anyway) those are not parallel examples because the insurgencies are not facing foreign invaders which massively changes the formula.

...and how do we deal with the forces in Pakistan their government won't touch?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:07 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are times when this world just fills me with despair.

I look at all that we've accomplished in the modern era with our technology, human rights, communications, and media, and I take this to be the norm, only to be reminded that, despite the fact that we live in these amazing times, were virtually anything is possible, there are still people out there that feel that horrific mutilation of the defenseless is the appropriate response to... anything.

It makes me ashamed to be a part of our species.
posted by quin at 8:07 AM on July 30, 2010


Fuck religion. All religion. Fuck it, for all the hurt it causes. Nothing good.
posted by A189Nut at 6:39 AM on July 30


And fuck knives! They used a knife to do this!! And what about men?! Fuck men too, they did this to her!!!

Oh wait....I forgot, religion is the pot we throw all of our ill-informed shit into.
posted by drewski at 8:21 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama Signs $60 Billion Afghanistan War Bill to Pay for Increase in Troops
posted by homunculus at 8:26 AM on July 30, 2010


"With the exception of Algeria (which won its independence eventually anyway) those are not parallel examples because the insurgencies are not facing foreign invaders which massively changes the formula."

Uh, if you'd read the linked paper, you'd know that the Algeria insurgency was the recent one where the Algerian government fought the GIA from '92 to '04.

As for foreign powers, the paper has examples of those too, like when British forces ran a successful anti-insurgency campaign in Sierra Leone, and the international forces who won in Croatia.

It also covers three separate insurgencies within Afghanistan, which are good reading.
posted by klangklangston at 8:45 AM on July 30, 2010


It is deeply problematic to construct the Afghan woman as someone in need of saving, When you save someone, you imply that you are saving her from something, You are also saving her to something, What violences are entailed in this transformation, and what presumptions are being made about the superiority of that to which you are saving her? Projects of saving other women depend on and reinforce a sense of superiority by Westerners, a form of arrogance that deserves to be challenged.

I'm not sure of the best way to handle or respond to the issues of Afghanistan, as much as we have debated it in this thread.

But I have no problem declaring a system of not-cutting-off-the-noses-of-people superior to a cutting-off-the-noses-of-people system.

This is a human rights issue, this is torture, and to say, "Well, we shouldn't do anything to try to stop it because we don't want to come off as all superior" is bullshit.
posted by mreleganza at 8:48 AM on July 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Sorry Klang, I don't read every 350 page PDF people link me in internet arguments. Since you read it, could you just tell me if it says if we can win Afghanistan or not?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:09 AM on July 30, 2010


Thanks for that link, humanfont.
posted by twirlip at 9:16 AM on July 30, 2010


WTF "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan?"

This happened while we were there you propagandist morons.
posted by callmejay at 9:23 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


And fuck knives! They used a knife to do this!! And what about men?! Fuck men too, they did this to her!!!

Oh wait....I forgot, religion is the pot we throw all of our ill-informed shit into


I blame the hand and the thoughts behind it. But you sort of got it - "ill informed shit" I'd take that as definition of any religion that justifies this for sure.
posted by A189Nut at 9:27 AM on July 30, 2010


I blame the hand and the thoughts behind it. But you sort of got it - "ill informed shit" I'd take that as definition of any religion that justifies this for sure.

Point taken. However claiming that nothing good has come of religion - I would probably file that under the same definition. If you hate or love religion, you can not with a straight face say it's all good or all bad. Religion has good and bad PEOPLE in it, just as athiesm has in it's ranks.
posted by drewski at 10:38 AM on July 30, 2010


...any religion that justifies this...

Any word on reaction in the Islamic world outside Afghanistan?
posted by IndigoJones at 11:05 AM on July 30, 2010


But I have no problem declaring a system of not-cutting-off-the-noses-of-people superior to a cutting-off-the-noses-of-people system.

But what if the system of not-cutting-off-the-noses-of-people also means you kill her brother, dismember her uncle, and wound an American or two?

I would think the presense of an outside invader makes local culture & religion stronger, not weaker.
posted by LordSludge at 12:30 PM on July 30, 2010


But I have no problem declaring a system of not-cutting-off-the-noses-of-people superior to a cutting-off-the-noses-of-people system.

But what if the system of not-cutting-off-the-noses-of-people also means you kill her brother, dismember her uncle, and wound an American or two?

I would think the presense of an outside invader makes local culture & religion stronger, not weaker.


I don't disagree. As I said, I don't know the best way to handle this issue - I am not an armchair general or foreign policy professor.

"Do nothing," however, is not a comfortable option to me, especially if the reason is, "Where do we get off telling people not to cut off noses?"
posted by mreleganza at 12:42 PM on July 30, 2010


If you are uncomfortable about doing nothing when bad shit happens in other countries, prepare to be uncomfortable every second of your life.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:16 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


on the one hand I want to get out because shit's getting blown up, people are getting killed, and there is no clear definition of a standard that, when reached, indicates we can get out.

on the other hand, the cutting off nose and other body parts and the whole Taliban agenda, especially in conjunction with Al Queda influence and the whole Pakistan problem, seems genocidal to me. I am sorta haunted by Clinton's remorse about not doing anything about the genocide in Rwanda. In retrospect, it seems clear that he made the wrong decision. I don't recall the administration's justification for its lack of response, other than there was that whole Somalia disaster and that shaped what they did. I bet it seemed really tricky to them, at the time, the question of whether to intervene or not.

Here, we've got many more layers of gray. Afgan corruption. Lack of infrastructure. Years of neglect by the Bush administration. The country as an "empire killer" and so on.

But I do worry that if we pull out prematurely without assessing the human costs associated with it, ten or fifteen years down the road we'll look back and say, 'shit, what the fuck we were thinking - now these people have dirty bombs and they're cutting off a whole bunch of noses'
posted by angrycat at 3:45 PM on July 30, 2010


Please tell me you're aware that America is the result of failed COIN operations.

Pretty, pretty please.
posted by atypicalguy at 7:42 PM on July 30, 2010


"Sorry Klang, I don't read every 350 page PDF people link me in internet arguments. Since you read it, could you just tell me if it says if we can win Afghanistan or not?"

I don't read every disingenuous, snarky reply in a thread. Can you just tell me if you read the part where I pointed out that foreign troops can successfully combat an insurgency or not?

"If you are uncomfortable about doing nothing when bad shit happens in other countries, prepare to be uncomfortable every second of your life."

Liberal values are foundational assumptions about what is good. If you hold foundational assumptions about what is good, even allowing for subjective variance, you must believe that they are good for all people. Equality under the law is a good I believe in; I believe that it is good for everyone around the world, and that the further we are from that good, the worse off the world is. Feeling uncomfortable about a lack of good is itself a good thing, as it shows you're recognizing a good and its absence, thereby showing empathy for other people. It's also good in that it spurs action to remedy that problem.

If you enjoy free speech, you should want it for everyone. If you enjoy equal rights, you should want them for everyone. I realize that some people are able to articulate a position between Fuck 'Em Do Nothing and Bomb Them All, but you don't seem able to, nor do you seem to be willing to actually engage anyone who disagrees, rather resorting to glib cynical bullshit.
posted by klangklangston at 9:07 PM on July 30, 2010


"Please tell me you're aware that America is the result of failed COIN operations.

Pretty, pretty please.
"

Please tell me that you realize that the failure of the British COIN came in large part because of French intervention (similar to how the Soviets lost Afghanistan due to US involvement).
posted by klangklangston at 9:08 PM on July 30, 2010


Nobody is Helping Aisha - I agree with Matt Yglesias's take on Time's emotionally manipulative Afghanistan cover. I support making the improvement of global living condition's a more central element of our foreign policy. But that's not what we're doing in Afghanistan, and it's not how we should be thinking about what we're doing in Afghanistan.

One Year To Advance 12 Miles - A gripping - and often distressing - report from the frontlines of the war with record fatalities after a decade.

Bacevich on ending American militarism - The argument for using American forces to defend America.

Afghanistan, July, 2010 - An Afghan girl who fixes potholes in a road between Kabul and Bagram and depends on tips from passing motorists, waits for vehicles in Afghanistan, Tuesday, July 6, 2010.
posted by kliuless at 6:24 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]



I don't read every disingenuous, snarky reply in a thread. Can you just tell me if you read the part where I pointed out that foreign troops can successfully combat an insurgency or not?


Wow, you are seriously going to call it disingenuous and snaky not to read a fucking 350 page paper? Little projection going on there, eh?


Can you just tell me if you read the part where I pointed out that foreign troops can successfully combat an insurgency or not?


It is far from a newsflash that people can be conquered. Stop distracting and just answer the question:

Are we going to win in Afghanistan?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:34 AM on July 31, 2010


"Wow, you are seriously going to call it disingenuous and snaky not to read a fucking 350 page paper? Little projection going on there, eh?"

Really, what I was pointing out was that your snarky and dismissive retort to the validity of the paper—which you obviously hadn't read—was wrong. You were wrong about the insurgency in Algeria because you were talking about the wrong one (and one outside of the scope of the paper). You might remember that if you scroll up some.

"It is far from a newsflash that people can be conquered."

You said that those defeated insurgencies were not valid because they didn't involve foreign forces. As, again, the paper discusses that (and it's not like you have to read the whole thing, since there's a pretty good table of contents and index), I pointed it out. Either you want to have an informed opinion or you don't, and it doesn't look like you do.

"Are we going to win in Afghanistan?"

Even given the ambiguities of "win," none of us know that, despite your tubthumping.
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 AM on July 31, 2010



Really, what I was pointing out was that your snarky and dismissive retort to the validity of the paper


I was commenting on the contents of the comment, not the 350 page paper.


You said that those defeated insurgencies were not valid because they didn't involve foreign forces.


I said they are not parallel examples, and even the ones with some level of foreign intervention are not at all parallel to Afghanistan for like a million other reasons.


Even given the ambiguities of "win," none of us know that, despite your tubthumping.


So, after 350 pages of fucking PDF we are right where we started, no one can fucking tell me how we can win but we have to stay anyway! The very serious people say so!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:18 AM on July 31, 2010


Obama Signs $60 Billion Afghanistan War Bill to Pay for Increase in Troops

Wasn't it a campaign promise of his to get out of these wars?
posted by JHarris at 11:55 AM on July 31, 2010


No. He has always been committed to Afghanistan.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:10 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The winning strategy is deceptively simple furiousxgeorge, the problems are all in execution and timing. You build a cohesive political system and functioning military and police that can support the state. Then you leave, this takes a combination of econoomic development, education, building of local trust and alliances with appropriate traditional leaders being coopted as stakeholders in the new system or figure out a way to replace them.
posted by humanfont at 8:13 AM on August 1, 2010


Taliban influence Spreading in Afghanistan
posted by homunculus at 9:03 AM on August 1, 2010


You build a cohesive political system and functioning military and police that can support the state.

Simple, eh? Yeah, piece of cake!
posted by mek at 2:57 AM on August 2, 2010


Democracy Now: Andrew Bacevich on Afghanistan War
posted by homunculus at 9:39 AM on August 2, 2010


the problems are all in execution and timing.

Ok, how do we overcome the problems in execution and timing?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:23 PM on August 2, 2010


Ex-Guantanamo detainee now campaigning in Afghanistan
posted by homunculus at 5:52 PM on August 5, 2010


The Afghan girl featured on a controversial Time magazine cover is in the US to have her nose rebuilt.
posted by homunculus at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2010


Foreign medical workers among 10 killed in Afghanistan
posted by homunculus at 9:12 AM on August 7, 2010




The Afghan girl featured on a controversial Time magazine cover is in the US to have her nose rebuilt.


Well super. So here is the plan: Get the army the fuck out of Afghanistan, instead offer free trips to the US for reconstructive surgery for anyone who needs it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:32 PM on August 7, 2010


It's the Nip/Tuck approach to foreign policy.
posted by mek at 3:10 PM on August 7, 2010


U.S. Supersizes Afghan Mega-Base as Withdrawal Date Looms
posted by homunculus at 2:23 PM on August 10, 2010


Oilfield With Estimated 1.8 Billion Barrels Of Oil Identified In Afghanistan
posted by homunculus at 12:58 PM on August 16, 2010


Taliban 'kill adulterous Afghan couple'

"A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Waheed Omar, said if the incident was confirmed it would be condemned in the strongest terms by the government. 'Even in Islam this [stoning] has to be done through proper judicial systems,' he said."
posted by homunculus at 2:17 PM on August 16, 2010


Crime (Sex) and Punishment (Stoning)
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on August 23, 2010


Afghanistan election: five campaigners for female candidate shot dead
posted by homunculus at 12:04 PM on August 29, 2010


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