Sunday, May 23, 2004

Send "The Women" to Iraq?

One of the disinformation emails forwarded to me by the Pentagon Spy (article; news) was written, apparently for publication, by a young officer in Iraq.

He outlined what he felt Iraq did not need. He definitely did not want "30-something" single American women with college degrees, coming in and working for the NGOs to fulfill some idealistic urge. "They mean well," he wrote, but he felt they were naive and mettlesome.

Given how badly things have gone in Iraq, perhaps it's time to reassess this sentiment.

The stereotypical idealistic, liberal, young, intellectual American woman has some strange ideas in the sexist imagination --- they think, for example, that something like a rock concert for Iraqis might be more effective at achieving US policy aims than constantly dropping bombs. US soldiers there keep saying that "Arabs only understand force", but there's something to be said for putting a human face on an occupation. It might also combat the obvious sexism of the young military officers in Iraq.

No doubt they would have objected vociferously to the violations of International law over there --- perhaps this is why this is why the Pentagon Spy decided to forward me this particular piece of disinformation --- the Pentagon didn't want too many idealistic Americans with conscience snooping around over there given what was happening, and needed to come up with other reasons for them to stay home.

As I mentioned in my first post to this blog (here), there is a time for all things. There's time for dropping bombs (after you've been attacked) and a time for a sympathetic hand.

After the initial brutality of the Iraq war, a sympathetic hand may have been called for. As I mentioned in earlier articles (here) democracy hinges on respect, and democracy building hinges on respect between the people of the future democracy and the democracy builders. Given the likely lingering hostility between Iraqis and Americans following "shock and awe", this might have been a role best played by the UN had allowed them the role they sought at that time. Since then, the UN pulled out following the terrorist attacks on its Iraqi headquarters, so that time has come and gone.

I never known an army to complain about the arrival of single young women from their homeland. However, American women in NGOs in Iraq might be a bad idea given the insurgents use of kidnapping as a military tactic. Similarly, a rock concert for Iraqs would present too tempting of a target for terrorists, as well as potentially alienate the ultra-conservative religious leaders in the region.

However, liberal, educated women from countries not affiliated with occupation serving in UN-sponsored NGOs would probably have been a good idea earlier on.

It's probably too late now, but a more sympathetic face on the occupation (humanitarian aid and rock concerts instead of torturered detainees) might have done some good.

If that's what they're afraid of, let's send in the 30-something single women if it's not too late. They might give the war criminals over there a sense of shame.