What's Sadly Missing in Time's Afghan Cover

The Time magazine cover story
this week arrives with a graphic cover image next to the title, "What
Happens If We Leave Afghanistan." It shows an Afghan teen named Aisha
whose nose and ears had been sliced off by the Taliban.

Inside, editor Rick Stengel explains that he consulted psychologists
about what harm could be done to children who might see this disturbing
image. But he also defends the aim of the story itself in the
following paragraph:

"The much publicized release of classified documents by
WikiLeaks has already ratcheted up the debate about the war. Our story
and the haunting cover image by the distinguished South African
photographer Jodi Bieber are meant to contribute to that debate. We do
not run this story or show this image either in support of the U.S. war
effort or in opposition to it. We do it to illuminate what is actually
happening on the ground. 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."

This Time treatment arrives on the same day Nick Kristof, a longtime defender of global women's issues, in The New York TImes
took a quite different approach, highlighting the gross "misallocation"
of U.S. resources to the war when our own country is suffering from
horrendous unemployment and a cracking educational system, among other

I've also previously highlighted the surging rate in U.S. soldier suicides -- check this shocking official report released
just today. Yesterday the Afghan government said 52 civilians had
been killed in a NATO missile attack. One could go on. (I do it every day.)

Also very much worth mentioning: the girl on the cover was attacked
not in long ago days of Taliban rule but not long ago -- with tens of
thousands of U.S. troops in the country.

I have to ask: In Time's mission to really "illuminate
what is actually happening on the ground" has it ever put on its cover
close-up images of 1) a badly wounded or dead U.S. soldier 2) an
Afghan killed in a NATO missile strike 3) an Afghan official, police
officer or military commander accepting a bribe from a Taliban war lord?

No one makes light of the plight of women and children in Afghanistan
under the Taliban -- and, contrary to Stengel's claim, many Americans
do know about it. Indeed, liberal women's groups in the U.S. have
raised the issue often and expressed mixed feelings about staying (or
even escalating) in Afghanistan because of it. It's a serious issue.
And please see the response to Time by the Feminist Peace Network. Jezebel with another good take here.

But I'd propose here a few alternative, or at least additional, cover images, all showing Americans here at home, that Time
might go with an upcoming cover on "What Happens If We LEAVE
Afghanistan." Please supply your own ideas in the comments section

-- A student in a high-tech classroom.

-- Workers streaming into a newly re-opened factory.

-- A poor black or Hispanic woman examined by a doctor in a first-class facility.

-- A returning soldier embraced by his wife and two kids.

-- Solar panels being erected on a huge office building.

Well, you get the idea. Contribute to list or take issue below.

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