March 20, 2008

Iraq, and the Women of COIN

Nice of Charlie to emerge from her hole to post on ... basketball. Charlie might have instead posted on something from the cold-blooded world of counter-insurgency warfare, where Dana Perino has said something really stupid with respect to women and defense issues:

Some of the terms I just don’t know, I haven’t grown up knowing. The type of missiles that are out there: patriots and scuds and cruise missiles and tomahawk missiles. And I think that men just by osmosis understand all of these things, and they’re things that I really have to work at — to know the difference between a carrier and a destroyer, and what it means when one of those is being launched to a certain area.

Yeah, we sure do, Dana. Abu Muqawama's father, Abu Jihad, used to put a copy of Vom Kriege in his crib at night and, sure enough, his first sentence was a question he asked of his mother: Mom, is not war merely another kind of writing and language for political thoughts? She had no idea what wee Abu Muqawama was going on about, of course, because Abu Muqawama's mother is just a silly girl who is only interested in silly girl things, like flowers, and Oprah.*

Spencer responds to Perino's nonsense by listing all the women who have been active in the counter-insurgency community alone. One of those women -- who would not be pleased to have been identified as a "counterinsurgent" -- just joined Abu Muqawama for a cup of coffee. And another one of those women, Michele Flournoy, has a must-read piece in today's Washington Times:

After two weeks in 10 of Iraq's 18 provinces, walking in neighborhoods with U.S. soldiers, conferring with State Department and USAID personnel and meeting with dozens of Iraqis, I came away with both a greater sense of hope and a deeper sense of concern. Even a skeptic of the war in Iraq cannot visit places like Adhamiyah, Doura and Iskandariyah today without being struck by how much security has improved. Markets are open, shoppers throng the streets and children are back in school in areas that were deadly urban battlegrounds only months ago.

Security in many parts of the country has improved markedly due to a host of factors: the Sunni "Awakening," Moktada al-Sadr's ceasefire, the shift in U.S. strategy to protecting the Iraqi population, the surge of U.S. forces in Baghdad, increasingly effective operations against al Qaeda and greater professionalism among some (though not all) Iraqi military units. Having lived through the sectarian violence of 2006 and early 2007, many Iraqis now feel that Iraq has been given a second chance.

But increased security has also created rapidly rising expectations for essential services like electricity, for political reconciliation and open, free and fair elections, for equitable distribution of Iraq's vast oil wealth, and for jobs. These expectations must be met to consolidate recent security gains.

Read the rest here. [Thanks, Dave!]

*Abu Muqawama's mother, actually, is glued to the television watching the NCAA tournament.