forgive the pun on words but seriously, since when is annie leibovitz- who i like, by the way- somehow more newsworthy than a war in which we're still engaged?
(remember? you know- that one in afghanistan? where we were going to '"smoke 'em out of their caves"? i know- i haven't heard much about it lately, either)
The cover of International editions, aimed at Europe, Asia, and Latin America, displays in large letters the title "LOSING AFGHANISTAN," along with an arresting photograph of an armed jihadi.
The cover of the United States edition, in contrast, is dedicated to celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz and is demurely captioned "My Life in Pictures."
The International cover story begins:
"You don't have to drive very far from Kabul these days to find the Taliban. In Ghazni province's Andar district, just over a two-hour trip from the capital on the main southern highway, a thin young man, dressed in brown and wearing a white prayer cap, stands by the roadside waiting for two NEWSWEEK correspondents. It is midday on the central Afghan plains, far from the jihadist-infested mountains to the east and west. Without speaking, the sentinel guides his visitors along a sandy horse trail toward a mud-brick village within sight of the highway. As they get closer a young Taliban fighter carrying a walkie-talkie and an AK-47 rifle pops out from behind a tree. He is manning an improvised explosive device, he explains, in case Afghan or U.S. troops try to enter the village."
The United Story cover story begins:
"Annie Leibovitz is tired and nursing a cold, and she' s just flown back to New York on the red-eye from Los Angeles, where she spent two days shooting Angelina Jolie for Vogue. Like so many of her photo sessions, there was nothing simple about it. 'I talked with Angelina before the shoot,' says Leibovitz, who's famous for her preparation. 'She felt like she was coming back from having the baby and she felt very sexy and ready to go.' ... There were 50 people on the set, and racks of clothes from the New York spring collections to be tried and styled."
The story aimed at the United States then goes on to discuss the difficulties Leibovitz had in photographing Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' infant. The International story continues with difficulties of a very different kind:
"In Ghazni and in six provinces to the south, and in other hot spots to the east, Karzai's government barely exists outside district towns. Hard-core Taliban forces have filled the void by infiltrating from the relatively lawless tribal areas of Pakistan where they had fled at the end of 2001. Once back inside Afghanistan these committed jihadist commanders and fighters, aided by key sympathizers who had remained behind, have raised hundreds, if not thousands, of new, local recruits, many for pay. They feed on the people's disillusion with the lack of economic progress, equity and stability that Karzai's government, NATO, Washington and the international community had promised.
"NATO officials say the Taliban seems to be flush with cash, thanks to the guerrillas' alliance with prosperous opium traffickers. The fighters are paid more than $5 a day—good money in Afghanistan, and at least twice what the new Afghan National Army's 30,000 soldiers receive."