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Responses to the propaganda published by Time

August 17, 2010

From a CIA memo published byWikileaks:

Afghan women couldserve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive scepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.

Time did it’s duty last month by publishing a cover picture of Aisha, a young Afghan woman who has had her face mutilated by her family with the title ‘What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan’ and an accompanying article by Aryn Baker.  The article details the horrific lives of Afghan women, 8 years after Team America decided to attack and occupy Afghanistan.  The irony of Team America’s failure to protect Aisha seems to be lost on Baker and Time.  Thankfully. Aisha has now been flown to Los Angeles for reconstruction work.  I’m not sure why she had to go that far considering India pioneered facial reconstruction which was documented in 600BC, but I am sure she will be well looked after.

Time’s propaganda has been much discussed and I’d like to quote from some of the best – all are well worth reading in their entirety.

Nazish Brohi for the Dawn Blog

The Time magazine cover has started a controversy that has already drawn hundreds of comments. The attention, however, has been not on the tagline but on Aisha’s photograph, whether it was exploitative or shockingly violent or desensitising. How about asking these very questions about the occupation?

While Aisha’s picture conjectures what happens if they leave, in effect, emotional blackmail for supporting the war offensive, another photograph of a woman torn apart by bomb shrapnel, bleeding to death while in her wedding dress could be captioned: “What Happens if They Stay.”

Ann Jones for The Nation:

I heard Aisha’s story from her a few weeks before the image of her face was displayed all over the world. She told me that her father-in-law caught up with her after she ran away, and took a knife to her on his own; village elders later approved, but the Taliban didn’t figure at all in this account. The Time story, however, attributes Aisha’s mutilation to a husband under orders of a Talib commander, thereby transforming a personal story, similar to those of countless women in Afghanistan today, into a portent of things to come for all women if the Taliban return to power. Profoundly traumatized, Aisha might well muddle her story, but what excuses reporters who seem to inflate the role of the Taliban with every repetition of the case? Some reports have Aisha “sentenced” by a whole Taliban “jirga.”

Negah Rahmani for The Zeitgeist Politics:

What’s worse is that articles like these fail to recognise that perhaps the presence of U.S and its allies has had a detrimental effect on women’s rights and have set the feminist movement at least a decade back. Povey, one of the most cited academics in the field of Afghanistan concluded in her 2004 paper that the Western ‘pre-packaged’ idea of improved women’s rights have failed to recongnise what Afghan women had achieved throughout the Taliban regime. She writes of an underground feminist movement that was spread throughout the country where women were putting their lives at risk to defy some of the Taliban’s harshest rules. Every single woman interviewed by her admitted to have partaken in income-generating activities. Most were teaching girls or were sending their daughters to make-shift schools. Women formed a large network and despite the circumstances had created, in essence, a social movement that had incredible potential and affected real, grassroots change for the women by the women.

John Gorenfeld for the New York Observer:

But there was more than a question mark missing from the Time story, which stressed potentially disastrous consequences if the U.S. pursues negotiations with the Taliban. The piece lacked a crucial personal disclosure on Baker’s part: Her husband, Tamim Samee, an Afghan-American IT entrepreneur, is a board member of an Afghan government minister’s $100 million project advocating foreign investment in Afghanistan, and has run two companies, Digistan and Ora-Tech, that have solicited and won development contracts with the assistance of the international military, including private sector infrastructure projects favored by U.S.-backed leader Hamid Karzai.

In other words, the Time reporter who wrote a story bolstering the case for war appears to have benefited materially from the NATO invasion.

Just imagine how different Afghanistan would be today if all the money that has been spent on killing Afghans had instead been used for funding RAWA.


The real story behind Time’s Afghan woman cover: American complicity

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