Monday, 2 August 2010

A picture worth more than a thousand words

I had the first inkling that Time Magazine would suffer a backlash over its cover this week which can be viewed HERE, when I came downstairs Saturday morning and was told to take my hard copy of the magazine upstairs out of sight of the children.

The photo, of an Afghan woman disfigured by the Taliban, cuts right to the heart of the ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ dilemma that Obama, Cameron and others are wrestling with as we try to find a way out of the quagmire.

Even the most heartless advocate of immediate withdrawal could not help but momentarily consider the implications for Afghan women if the Taliban are allowed to take back control, which was exactly what Time intended when they put the photo on the cover.

However, on the other side of the coin lies our own history in Afghanistan encompassing three previous engagements, namely the First Afghan War (1839-42), the Second Afghan War(1878-80) and the Third Afghan War (1919) which at best resulted in a partial victory for the British and at worst resulted in total catastrophe. It must also be remembered that the former Soviet Union had three times as many troops in Afghanistan in the early ‘80s as the war coalition has now and look what happened to them.

There can be no doubt that the photo is provocative and many do not like to be confronted with our dire choices in so stark a manner. This was a brave editorial decision by Time but the right one.

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