And it is conscience, I think—or, rather, conflicting claims on our conscience—that is at the heart of this debate. One can argue that it is right to leave Afghanistan, and wrong to ask more Americans to die there. One can argue that the civilian casualties rates of the NATO troops are indefensible, or that the war in Afghanistan is simply too costly for our downwardly-mobile country to pay for. (On the Nation’s Media Fix blog, Greg Mitchell proposed showing photographs of “workers streaming into a newly re-opened factory,” “a returning soldier embraced by his wife and two kids,” and “solar panels being erected on a huge office building” to illustrate “What Happens If We LEAVE Afghanistan.”) But it is bad faith of the worst sort to argue that withdrawal would somehow help the women of Afghanistan; or would rescue them from lives of almost unimaginable pariahdom, misery, poverty, physical pain, poor health, ignorance, and degradation; or would not take away even the minimal gains that have been made. Equally bad, I think, is the pretense that a “deal” with the Taliban won’t somehow come at women’s (and children’s) expense. Let’s at least call barbarism by its right name—which is just what the Time photograph did.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Barbarism by its Right Name
Susie Linfield writing at Dissent doesn't know what America's policy about Afghanistan should be - it's very complicated, after all - but she can recognize barbarism when she sees it. Lots of well educated folks can't, as she depressingly documents. (h/t Norm).