Monday, July 25, 2011

NATO's Women Warmongers

The Arena: Nato’s women warmongers

Thursday, 21 July 2011 02:00
Zimbabwe Herald

OUT of all the Libya Contact Group representatives from 30 states and organisations that met in the Turkish capital Istanbul last Friday, July 15, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton seemed the busiest, with one website describing her itinerary thus: "Secretary Clinton met with too many dignitaries to name.
We see her here with several of her counterparts . . . and Spain's Trinidad Jimenez. She gave a Press conference as well as a major address to the organisation of the Islamic Conference."

Apart from Clinton, two other outstanding women at the meeting were Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister Trinidad Jimenez, and the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

Dear reader, welcome to the world of elite and influential women who do not need to be in military garb for them to influence global events. Welcome also to women whose children are not fighting in brutal wars elsewhere, but who still enjoy the power that comes with directing these wars. These female warmongers are slowly destroying the adage that women are victims of war since they fully back and advocate for the wars currently being fought.

To them, it must be an amiable achievement - women who have shattered the glass ceiling, and have proceeded to rewrite the war narrative as policy formulators and decision makers.

The war in Libya has brought this element to the fore more than ever. On July 15 as Nato members met in Istanbul to deliberate on the fourth Libya Contact Group meeting (deposing of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi), it was evident that women were calling the shots - Hillary Clinton, Trinidad Jimenez and EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton. It was at this meeting that Clinton announced the US' recognition of the Libyan rebel group.

Incidentally, it was during the Clinton administration in the 90s that we started seeing women who served in government, but who had an appetite for war. Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State from 1997 - 2001 has a few quotable quotes on war which makes this remark quite fitting:

--"If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future."

--"Iraq is a long way from the US, but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."

George W. Bush invaded Iraq accusing Saddam Hussein of having weapons of mass destruction and, Condoleezza Rice was among members of his inner circle. She held the posts of chief security advisor and later

Secretary of State, and below again are some interesting quotes from her:

--"We are at war, and our security as a nation depends on winning that war."

--"The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly Saddam can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

The post-2008 Zimbabwean elections also saw Jendayi Fraser, the US' Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, working extremely hard to have Zimbabwe placed under the UN's Chapter VII, a move that could have given the US and its coalition of the willing the slightest excuse to invade it. And all this at Fraser's instigation!

The Obama era is no different. With Secretary of State Clinton and US envoy to the United Nations, Susan Rice, it is becoming so evident that women are as eager to have people of other nationalities maimed and killed through war, just like their male counterparts.

The reports about how Susan Rice hunted down South Africa's ambassador to the UN so that South Africa, together with Nigeria and Gabon could vote for UN Security Council Resolution 1979, are telling.

Then, on March 20, John Avlon wrote: "That a diplomatic team led by Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power advocated military action against (Muammar) Gaddafi may be a footnote in the Libyan conflict - but it is a significant mark of our nation's evolution."

According to Avlon: "The Libyan air strikes mark the first time in US history that a female-dominated diplomatic team has urged military action. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined with UN Ambassador Susan Rice and the influential Office of Multilateral and Human Rights Director Samantha Power to argue for air strikes against Libya. Their advice triggered an abrupt shift in US policy, overturning more cautious administrations' counsellors."

Just like Bush and his infamous post-9/11 assertions - if you are not for us, you are against us - Clinton has asked her critics regarding the Libyan conflict, "Whose side are you on?" Matt Welch wrote on the blog that Clinton responded to a question raised at a press conference in Jamaica, ". . . But the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Gaddafi's side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them? For the Obama administration, the answer to that question is very easy."

As she globe trots, week in, week out, Clinton with each Press briefing leaves behind the chilling effects of how power can be used without due regard to its consequences. In her own assessment it's either "yes" or "no" and no compromising.

On July 16 she told CNN regarding the situation in Syria, "The brutality has to stop . . . Syria can't go back to the way it was before" . . . (Assad) "has lost his legitimacy in the eyes of his own people because of the brutality of their crackdown".

That same day, she called for a speedy solution to Cyprus' long-standing dispute: "We don't think the status quo in Cyprus benefits anyone . . . We want to see a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and we would like to see it as soon as possible," she said. A statement that does not give room for negotiation. Avlon further remarks that passages from Samantha Power's 2003 book A Problem From Hell offer insight into principles that may have led to this women-driven war campaign. Although the final decision was made by Obama, Avlon says: "In the end, that a female-led diplomatic team argued for war will be a footnote in this conflict as it unfolds. But it is historically significant. And that it seems almost unremarkable to contemporaries is a small mark of our constant evolution toward a more perfect union, even within our civilian-led military."

Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez is no different. She has also attended the contact group meetings on Libya. At the Abu Dhabi meeting in June, she proposed implementing an aid plan for Libya, once Gaddafi had been overthrown, with the aim of giving the country democratic institutions and training a new army in collaboration with the Interim National Council which groups the rebels together.
Jimenez also said that the proposal of a "pact" between the international community and the Libyan opposition would be put into effect once Gaddafi left office. "We have seen that diplomatic, political, economic and military pressure is leaving Gaddafi more isolated every day." (Source: Madrid EFE in Spanish - Spanish semi-official independent news agency).

Dear reader, you might argue that Zimbabwe had its own women of war: Mbuya Nehanda. But, is this the same? With remote-controlled fighter jets becoming the in-thing, how many women in Africa will also be advocating for wars in other parts of the world? Is this gender mainstreaming?

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