Controversial Cover

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TIME's cover image and story about the young woman who had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban were horrific [Aug. 9]. I do not doubt that this brutality would increase were we to pull our troops from the region. However, the death and trauma suffered by our forces in order to prevent the abuse documented in your cover story are too high a price to pay.
Ken Rosner, MARTINSBURG, W. VA., U.S.

Thank you for having the courage to print such a distressing cover image. The shock value of Aisha's mutilated face encouraged me to pick up the issue and read about the few advances that have been made against the Taliban when it comes to women's rights. We get so wrapped up in today's watercooler gossip in our celebrity-centric society (Mel Gibson's rants, Heidi Montag's surgeries, Chelsea Clinton's wedding dress) that we forget about the real issues affecting this world.
Pat Schneider, TUMWATER, WASH., U.S.

While I congratulate you on a powerful cover image and a well-written story by Aryn Baker, I find your cover line — "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan" — misleading. The solution to the suppression of women in Afghanistan is not foreign occupation but the irreversible transformation of Afghan governance and societal values.
Rouben Azizian, 

To exploit the mutilated face of an obviously beautiful girl on your cover is emotional blackmail. The girl was violently degraded despite the American presence. It's trite but true: violence begets violence. America cannot mount crusades to right all the wrongs in the world. Better to leave gracefully than overstay an already brittle welcome.
Monte Holsinger, COLOMBO

America cannot use the fear of a Taliban revival and its repercussions on women as justification for its occupation. At the same time, stories like that of Aisha are important reminders of the rehabilitation and rebuilding that needs to be done. This is not the work of the U.S. alone. Countries such as India and Japan and the U.N. have been involved, and NGOs from around the world have also contributed a healing touch. This process needs to be continued. No country deserves to be occupied by a foreign force.
Mahima Manchanda, NEW DELHI

Putting a disfigured girl on your cover was a terrible editorial decision. Obviously our world has its horrors, but I have small children at home. Having that arrive through the mail slot was quite distressing. It seems inappropriate for a broad-based magazine like yours.
Mary Gardner, BOSTON

I am a tough old guy of 72, but Aisha's image has moved me to tears. These crimes against humanity have to be stopped.
Ede Schmieding, LAUF, GERMANY

The feature article on the Afghan girl who was mutilated by the Taliban was certainly shocking, but the abuse was hardly unprecedented. It should be remembered that Christian history also had its barbarous phase. During the reign of Pope Innocent III, after the conquest of a Cathar stronghold, the commander of church forces ordered that some 100 Cathar heretics have their noses, ears and lips cut off and their eyes gouged out.

Surveying the Damage
Michael Grunwald's statement that the BP oil spill is not an environmental disaster is at best premature [Big Spill, Little Damage? Aug. 9]. The deaths of thousands of shorebirds and hundreds of sea turtles and marine mammals are not insignificant.
Robert W. Hastings, PRATTVILLE, ALA., U.S.

Rwanda's Plight
I observed Alex Perry's interview of Victoire Ingabire in Rwanda, in which she said, "I am sure they will revenge themselves against the Tutsis" [The Rebel Reformer, Aug. 9]. Perry's reporting leaves the impression that she meant Hutu revenge against Tutsi. But Ingabire was expressing her fear that the Rwandan majority, including Tutsi out of favor, may not continue to respond peacefully to years of brutal Rwandan Patriotic Front repression, because police-state tactics have never kept the peace anywhere. While Rwanda does boast impressive economic figures, the U.N. has reported that Rwanda's GDP has been boosted by its military occupation and resource theft in the mineral-rich eastern Congo, where continued conflict has cost the lives of perhaps 5 million. Rwandans also receive some of the highest U.S. aid per capita in Africa. The current prosperity-stability/police-state trade-off in U.S. Rwanda policy is actually laying the foundation for future tragedies.
Peter Erlinder,