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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No matter how many clean birds Grunwald saw or how many statistics he throws around, suggesting that millions of gallons of oil in our waters has anything less than a disastrous effect on our environment is beyond the scope of reality.
Salem, Mass., U.S.
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.
St. Paul, Minn., U.S.