05 August 2010

TIME & War Propaganda

You will likely have seen the original cover (top) and may be interested in this shameless rationalization TIME printed. The editors insist: "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." Right. You ought also to see the second, photo-shopped version (Thanks Stan!) and read the reasoning of the fellow who took license with the original (scroll down the comments). His claim is only modestly less credulous. For some sensible discussion go here.

You might ask: So, you oppose the war? What about the Taliban and women's rights? Good questions. But, yes, I still oppose the war. And my simple, visceral retort is "What about, say, the Catholic church and women's (or children's) rights? What about the medieval attitudes that our own fundamentalists display regarding women's rights?"

My more complicated retort is, "OK, we can agree that the Taliban are fundamentalist thugs. But we are not going to get rid of them in any plausible scenario. And the ineffectual and corrupt Karzi regime is hardly an enlightened replacement. You might say the same of "our" fundamentalist allies in Pakistan. And, oh, by the way, let's have a graphic TIME cover story on the many various families we have bombed into oblivion in predator drone attacks - you know, the people we treat as collateral damage - and then talk support for the war." After all, we are deploying the drones mainly in hopes of avoiding American military casualties! I suppose Afghan lives are not worth quite as much?

This cover story is propaganda, pure and simple. TIME hardly is a font of feminist politics when it comes to our own relatively comfy lives. And, whether they admit it or not, they've adopted a moralistic stance in the service of a losing war.
P.S.: The cover photo was taken, in the words of the TIME folk, "the distinguished South African photographer Jodi Bieber."

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Blogger Stan B. said...

At one time we actually had a window to do tremendous good there, instead, greed led us elsewhere. That worked out well.

05 August, 2010 10:19  
Blogger VQ Bubba said...

I saw the Time cover at Wegman's last night and was similarly surprised (or dismayed) by the combination of photograph and quote. I can't wrap my head around their intent ... to rally the troops to fight against 'cultures' that denigrate women?

With the recent fire sale of Newsweek, maybe Time is just proving the irrelevance of the news magazine format.

05 August, 2010 11:39  
Blogger Mark said...

There's another dimension to this story: Time has just manufactured the latest version of the "Afghan Girl." Anyone who reads this blog regularly is likely to know something of the iconography of Steve McCurry's endlessly reproduced photograph, but for a detailed analysis of how it has been used, see my colleague, Holly Edwards's essay "Cover to Cover" in our edited collection, *Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain* (2007). The political context of Time's photo is importantly different; the image itself, not so much.

05 August, 2010 14:14  
Blogger VQ Bubba said...

Not a great bit of journalism, but I stumbled on this piece that suggests the author of the cover story is married to a gentleman with a financial interest in western investment in Afghanistan. http://www.observer.com/2010/media/its-horrifying-cover-story-time-gave-war-boost-did-its-reporter-profit?page=0

Maybe of more interest than this alleged linkage are the last two paragraphs about Taliban denial of involvement and recent Afghan legislation.

(and the reference to this author being a journalism school colleague of the Time author)

13 August, 2010 11:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said.Absolutely propaganda in a losing war.
Afghanistan has the largest Copper mine in the world.It is owned by the Chinese [after a bribe to an Afghan government official of $30million dollars]and is guarded by US special forces.
The US [the West]want a pipeline across Afghanistan to the Arabian Gulf and a highway across Pakistan to the oil rich states of the once USSR.

15 August, 2010 06:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This article is relevant to your post.

15 August, 2010 10:55  

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