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1 Comparing Afghan and Mexican Image Influences on U.S.

Foreign Policy

Francesca understands the importance of a worldly outlook and education. Her goals are to work for sustainable community building and global health, with a particular emphasis on water sanitation, disaster preparedness, nutrition education, global health community education, and women's and youth empowerment in South America, North Africa and Southeast Asia.

Francesca Grandillo Francesca.grandillo@hotmail.com 2928 Vicente St San Francisco, CA 94116 Module 3 09/24/2013

2 Abstract: Media such as National Geographic utilize images to evoke certain responses in readers. Representations of the Afghan Girl and Mexican mourners as victims give Western readers the image of people in societies that need US aid and action. These interpretations illicit public opinion, assent and dissent of foreign policy decisions.

3 Representation of Afghan Girl National Geographics Afghan Girl 1 (case study pictures) used six themes: veil, childhood, eyes, anonymity, refugee, and femininity. The veil is used to signal oppression of Muslim women, childhood is used to urge protection of the Afghan Girl, eye contact used to show submissiveness, anonymity means the Afghan Girl could be every girl in Afghanistan, the word refugee heightens US citizens desire to show compassion toward problematic third world countries, and femininity reaffirms stereotypes of non-Western women as victims of male violence, religious oppression, and innocent victims who need to be protected. The Afghan girl is seen as a victim of third world oppression, creating a feeling of societal superiority in the reader. This evokes the response to become democracypromoting citizens who fight oppression and free Afghan women from their constraining societies. This and Soviet violence propaganda created popular sentiment that aligned the US policy to increase and make public the billions in aid sent to Afghanistan and a reason for troops to enter the country and fight religious extremism.2 (journal article)

Images of Mexican Turmoil Images of citizens suffering from the Mexican drug war also reveal the influence of visuals. A grieving family looks on the coffin of a dead loved one, using themes (drawn from Afghan Girl) of childhood, femininity, eyes and anonymity.3 (pbs) There is a child and woman in the picture who are affected by the war note the absence of a father, possibly killed or forced to immigrate. This anonymous family could be any mourners and their eyes look down and away, representing mistrust of the press and strengthening anonymity. Homages to loved ones and pleas for peace are looked on by a grieving, anonymous couple affected personally by the war.4 (msnbc) Both images have religious paraphernalia simultaneously evoking solidarity in Christian US citizens and creating the image of traditional religious people who are alien to US secularism and in need of enlightenment. Images of grievers and violence are attributed to the drug war, ignoring Mexicos numerous socioeconomic issues many spawned by NAFTA - and increasing approval of anti-narcotics policy and monetary aid to both stop violence on the humanitarian side and decrease illegal immigration on the economic side, thereby hitting two groups of US interest at once. A critical view of neoliberal NAFTA and image influence can argue that images of grievers and violence with an emphasis on narcotics as the cause increased assent for the Bush administration to fight the drug war and increased the belief that NAFTA was helping. By the time NAFTA had already fully implemented itself in Mexican society and caused many problems, the Obama administration says US aid and new policies have deterred the drug war as if that would solve all of Mexicos problems making Mexico safer, and that even more economic ties are in future plans.6,7

Effect of Image Representations on Public Opinion and Policy Constructivism can explain how words and images produce general ideas, like labeling North Korea and Iran as evil and using democracy promotion as an excuse for many past and present military interventions and foreign aid packages.8 Victimizing the Afghan Girl and Mexicans elicits a response in Americans that leads to approval of policies like intervention and aid. Afghan Girls fame, implemented decades ago, increased the chance of approval for US intervention. Similarly, a decade ago, grieving Mexican images boosted consent for US aid in the drug war while NAFTA contributed to inequality in the country allowing the present claim that US support has contributed to success in the drug war and therefore Mexico is ready to have even stronger, NAFTAesque policies, which will probably benefit the US much more than heal Mexico. This image: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2010/11/mexicodrug-war-1.html 3 http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/120514-mexicokilling-745a.photoblog600.jpg 4 These sources to back up the images effects: http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/9600 - bush supported drug funding (nafta getting more involved and influencing migration and drug wars), Obama saying it got better and now time to be ecomoic allies (nafta now effectively in place, situation not really beter) http://www.chron.com/news/article/Bush-seeks-500-million-for-Mexico-s-drugwar-1836877.php