Tjebbe van Tijen via Chello on Tue, 7 Sep 2010 18:47:48 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Images that prevent us from thinking: the Afghanistan case

Images that prevent us from thinking: the Afghanistan case

September 7, 2010 by Tjebbe van Tijen 

illustrated version with all the links can be found at:

IMAGES THAT PREVENT US FROM THINKING… is the subject of an article in Le Monde Diplomatique of this month. The article starts with the the portrait of Bibi Aisha, on the cover of the july 29. issue of Time magazine, the Afghan woman with her nose cut off by her father in law because of an affront to his authority, an act supported by a local – supposedly Taliban – official. The display of this horrific picture triggered a fierce debate, because of the emblematic way it was used with the descriptive accompagning text: “What happens if we leave Afghanistan.” One may confront this implicit argument for Western involvement in Afghanistan and its continuation with images of civilian casualties by NATO and American forces, especially the structural case of ‘collateral damage’ as a result of always imprecise air attacks.

In the words of Serge Halimi of Le Monde Diplomatique: “Will there be more mutilations “if we leave Afghanistan”? Well, “our” presence has not prevented the people of Afghanistan from being mutilated. The Taliban have plenty of pictures of civilians who have lost limbs or been killed by western missiles. Perhaps Time will publish one. Will it make the front cover? And what caption will it carry?”

[double image with this caption: July 2010 front cover of Time magazine and a elsewhere published photograph of a demonstration in Kabul August 2010: "Afghan protesters hold placards during a demonstration against U.S. forces and NATO in Kabul, Afghanistan Sunday, Aug 1, 2010. More than 400 demonstrators have marched toward the presidential palace in Kabul to protest the alleged killing of 52 civilians by a NATO rocket strike in the south. NATO has disputed the report of civilian deaths."]

The photograph of the Kabul demonstration has been published (just one example of its usage) by an Americannews web site with the header: “Holland bails out on Afghanistan war, adding pressure on Germany, UK to scale back.”

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