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October 8, 2009

Mind Games

Newsweek's Taliban Cover (though Team Obama concluding Taliban no longer a threat

From yesterday’s NYT:

President Obama’s national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

…Mr. Obama’s commander there, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, has argued that success demands a substantial expansion of the American presence, up to 40,000 more troops. Any decision that provides less will expose the president to criticism, especially from Republicans, that his policy is a prescription for failure.

The White House appears to be trying to prepare the ground to counter that by focusing attention on recent successes against Qaeda cells in Pakistan. The approach described by administration officials on Wednesday amounted to an alternative to the analysis presented by General McChrystal. If, as the White House has asserted in recent weeks, it has improved the ability of the United States to reduce the threat from Al Qaeda, then the war in Afghanistan is less central to American security.

Regarding the Newsweek cover from week-before-last:

1. Whoops!

2. Nothing sells like a good boogeyman.

3. 9/11! Axis of evil!

4. Silence of the (Is-)Lambs.

5. Seems there’s a straw man wherever you turn these days.

6. No surge? Look for the same expression on the face of defense CEO’s in 2012.

(image: still looking)

  • g

    One thing that always strikes me is that if this were the face of a “Western” person, it would be captioned and identified. Michael – is there a caption for this image? Do we know who this man is?
    If not, it seems to me that Newsweek is just using stock images. He could be any dark-complected bogeyman in homespun – Iraqi, Serb, Kashmiri, even Latino. He could be a crowd extra in of “The Life of Bryan”. He could be a Pharisee from a road company of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
    Today’s media would never put a close-up like this on a cover to depict a Briton, an American, a Spaniard – without proper context. It’s another example of the subtle way the First World dehumanizes the Third World.

  • Tena

    Nice of the press to shift the entire focus of the situation in Afghanistan to the Taliban which was not the what we were supposed to be dealing with there. They are muddying up the waters and I guess they are attempting to force Obama to put more troops into Afghanistan. Why is the media cheerleading another war?

  • jtfromBC

    ‘Why is the media cheerleading another war’ -> because its in their corporate interest.
    Perusing this site may provide other clues.
    “As the mainstream media has become increasingly dependent on advertising revenues for support, it has become an anti-democratic force in society.”
    Robert McChesney, journalist and media critic
    “It is no longer a question of controlling a military-industrial complex, but rather, of keeping the United States from becoming a totally military culture”
    Jerome Weisner, president emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    “Our (U.S.) government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear – kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor – with the cry of grave national emergency … Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it”
    US General Douglas MacArthur, 1957.
    I find this statement from a General sacked by Truman for wanting to bomb China during the Korean War, contradictory and amusing.
    I note Obama, recently acquired a portrait of Truman and wonder if he imagined how Harry might have dealt with McChrystal.

  • Tena

    I know.
    It’s the ol’ Millitary/Industrial complex. The media is part of it.
    I wish we had listened to Eisenhower.

  • Karen H.

    Interesting that they’ve gone retro for this cover.

  • Michael Montazeri

    Not to bust out the Nazi Card so early in the game…. but this image looks very similar to the anti-Jewish propaganda images used in Germany (big nose, dark brow, sneering visage, etc.). It’s a classic other-ization.

  • jtfromBC

    HAQQANI: Two days before the September 11 attacks on America, we were all celebrating the death of [Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah] Masood, [who was assassinated by Qaeda agents posing as television reporters]. His forces were already on the verge of defeat, so his death all but assured us of total victory in Afghanistan. But the September 11 attacks turned our cheer into deep concern. We gave those camels [a derogatory Afghan term for Arabs] free run of our country, and they brought us face to face with disaster. We knew the Americans would attack us in revenge.
    -The Arabs were disappointed the Taliban hadn’t stood and fought. They told me they had wanted to fight to the death. They were clearly not as distressed as the Afghans. That was understandable. The Arabs felt they had lost a battle. But the Afghans were much more devastated-they had lost their country.

  • NS

    saw this at the checkout aisle today & was struck by the obvious blurriness and pixelation. it really seems like they zoomed in too close on a digital image with a resolution that wasn’t up to the job.
    it gave the whole thing an amateurish hack job feel, and also contributed to the sense, as g notes above, that it is a stock image… as if they found the angriest, scariest looking guy in a photo that may originally have depicted an entire scene or a group of people, and zoomed WAY in, cropping it to just the one guy’s face.
    looking at it now i am strangely reminded of this image…
    but the national geographic girl reads as a person, while the off-center, kohl-eyed, dramatically cropped taliban stand-in reads, as m. montazeri points out, as a sort of caricature.

  • [email protected]

    The Taliban are not the problem when it comes to global terrorism, they are a local religious phenomenan and seek no world-wide jihard. They may be brutal to their women, but not to the U.S. That cultural and religious situation can wait for another day and time. Its the al-queda that are the problem. There are maybe 150 of them in Afghanistan, and seek refuge in Pakistan…there is the problem. But there are more al-queda in Simolia, and other countries that should concern the U.S. more. Remember, it is a GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISTS, not any specific geographic locale. And since we don’t have the numbers of military personnel or treasure to invade the world, we might think more strategically.

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