Here's the magazine's defense of the picture. And here's an excerpt from Aryn Baker's cover story on the woman depicted (it appears that the full story isn't online). Allahpundit:
The image is as stark an argument as you’re likely to see for continuing the war, which is why lefties naturally have been all day. Some offer legit complaints instead of putting a mutilated girl on the cover to make the case for staying put, why not put a dead soldier on there to make the case for pulling out? and some not so legit, like the idea that because this happened last year when U.S. troops were already in the field, it portends nothing about what’ll happen on a wider scale when we leave.
Most of the bloggy links that I’ve seen today have gone to the piece at Time defending the decision to publish the photo, not the actual cover story about the catastrophic social backsliding to come once Islamist fanatics regain power (not to mention the inevitable retrenchment of Al Qaeda). Maybe a little too heavy on the distracting shock factor here?
Well, that's bound to happen when you don't put the full cover story online. But the cover image is a great visual for making the moral case for staying - something those of us who want to scale down the war effort must confront. Yglesias, alas, claims that "actually altering social conditions in southern and eastern Afghanistan isn’t on the list of war aims":
It’s certainly true as Time’s emotionally manipulative new cover image indicates that the Taliban are terrible for women and that the more of Afghanistan they rule the worse things will be for women. That said, it’s extremely disingenuous to act as if continued American military engagement in Afghanistan is the key to preventing further cases of girls like Aisha from being maimed for violations of retrograde notions of gender norms.
We were not responsible for these evils when they were perpetrated for years before 9/11. And we are not responsible now. After ten years, I'd say the American soldier's burden in trying to alleviate the awful consequences of Jihadist rule is completed.