March 21, 2011

How Libya Finally Puts to Rest a Tired, Sexist Canard

When I was growing up, my mother would tell me that "if women ran the world, there would never be any war."* Well, explain this, Mom:

The shift in the administration’s position — from strong words against
Libya to action — was forced largely by the events beyond its control:
the crumbling of the uprising raised the prospect that Colonel Qaddafi
would remain in power to kill “many thousands,” as Mr. Obama said at the
White House on Friday.

The change became possible, though, only after Mrs. Clinton joined Samantha
Power, a senior aide at the National Security Council, and Susan Rice,
Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United
Nations, who had been pressing the case for military action
according to senior administration officials speaking only on condition
of anonymity. Ms. Power is a former journalist and human rights
advocate; Ms. Rice was an Africa adviser to President Clinton when the
United States failed to intervene to stop the Rwanda genocide, which Mr. Clinton has called his
biggest regret.


Now, the three women were pushing for American intervention to stop a
looming humanitarian catastrophe in Libya. ...


In joining Ms. Rice and Ms. Power, Mrs. Clinton made an unusual break
with Secretary of Defense Robert M.
Gates, who, along with the national security adviser, Thomas E.
Donilon, and the counterterrorism chief, John O.
Brennan, had urged caution.
Libya was not vital to American national
security interests, the men argued, and Mr. Brennan worried that the
Libyan rebels remained largely unknown to American officials, and could
have ties to Al Qaeda.

*Mom telling me this was all the more amusing since it is widely acknowledged that the women in our family far outpace the men in terms of overall belligerence. But that's East Tennessee for you. Two true, hilarious stories from my early adulthood:

1. When I went to war for the first time, my mother's last words to me -- and I am not making this up -- were: "Don't embarass your family." (Mom hates it when I tell people this because she was really quite emotional on September 11th and also while I was deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq, but she never let me see any of that.)

2. I went to go see that movie The Good Shepherd with my mother in the theater over Christmas one year. She turned to me at the part in the movie where it seems the Matt Damon character is about to have his only son executed for tipping off the Cubans, and asks, "If that was your son, would you allow him to be killed?" I replied, "Well, yeah, I dunno, I guess." And she looks at me, coolly, and says, "I would too." And then after holding my horrified stare for a few seconds, she just went back to eating her popcorn and watching the movie. Cold. As. Ice.