Is the War in Afghanistan Good for Women?
By Jason Linkins
This week, Time had a graphic cover depicting a woman who was maimed by the Taliban, along with the tagline, “What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan.” Just when everyone was beginning to ask, “What is going to happen if we stay much longer?”
All week, I’ve been discussing how remarkable it is that these WikiLeaks disclosures resulted in a stunning and hitherto unvoiced consensus from the media that the “conventional wisdom” is that the War in Afghanistan is not going well — and that hearing about it all over again in the form of a document dump from Julian Assange was “nothing new.” Now, we’ve come to the end of the week, and Time magazine has a graphic cover depicting a woman named Aisha who was maimed by the Taliban, along with the tagline, “What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan.” Just when everyone was beginning to ask, “What is going to happen if we stay much longer?” (As Glenn Greenwald pointed out, there may already be an answer to that question.)
Obviously, the Taliban are a disaster for women and a blight on the face of human civilization. But this cover story, by its own admission, concerns itself with what we are doing there, what we hope to accomplish.
Why are we in Afghanistan? I gather from the limited excerpts of the article available online that the ongoing list of purposes — war is good for our national security interests, war is good for the fight against terror, war is good for the creation of a stable democracy — should now be superceded by this idea: war is good for women. Seems to me that history has already rendered a judgment in that regard. There is this ancient story, called “The Iliad”, which recounts how the Greeks went to war for the sake of a woman. There’s another story, called “The Trojan Women” that reveals how that worked out for everyone. Hell, there’s also another story called “The Lysistrata” that’s relevant here — let’s recall that it was a popular story from the feminist heyday of 411 B.C.
In an editors note, Time’s Rick Stengel writes:
I would rather confront readers with the Taliban’s treatment of women than ignore it. I would rather people know that reality as they make up their minds about what the U.S. and its allies should do in Afghanistan.
It’s strange: if the combination of war and Time cover stories is good for the women of Afghanistan, how do you explain the hot sack of nothing-at-all that’s been deployed to protect the women of Ciudad Juarez?