Saturday, February 28, 2004

When Opposition Isn't Enough

Starting in mid-2002 until almost exactly one year ago, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair sought public support for invading Iraq. The coalition made multiple and overlapping arguments justifying regime change. Even MoDo said so! Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz's formulation was typical, quoted here from an extensive interview with journalist Sam Tannenhaus:
[T]here have always been three fundamental concerns. One is weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. Actually I guess you could say there's a fourth overriding one which is the connection between the first two.
Thus, the coalition premised its determination to invade Iraq, in part, on Saddam's long-standing and brutal abuse of human rights. Events since the fall of Baghdad fully confirmed the magnitude of the horror--estimated at 300,000 Iraqi dead (many in mass graves) and perhaps an equal number raped or mutilated.

Before the war, Iraq was sealed from the West. So iron-clad proof of Saddam's crimes was impossible. Instead, Bush and Blair relied on the best evidence available--reports of human rights violations published by Amnesty International, an NGO "focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of. . . all human rights." But that was too much for the organization's secretary general, Irene Kahn: she "condemned" Britain and America for "manipulating" Amnesty International's documentation for "political" purposes. This was kinda amusing, in a tragic way--I always thought political influence was Amnesty International's raison d'etre.

It's easy to dispute, cluck and tsk-tsk from a well-worn easy chair. But real world problems, like radical Islam, require real world actions--including force. A decade of UN talk-talk, diplomatic isolation and trade sanctions failed to dislodge Saddam. Yet the anti-war left insisted inaction was preferable to, well, anything--or anything supported by the United States. That's when liberals transformed from merely silly to hallucinatory and amoral hypocrites.

I was reminded of last year's "peace at any price" folly by Martha Burk's letter to the editor in today's WaPo. Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, is best known for failing to pressure the wealthy, all-male golf club in Augusta--site of the PGA's "Masters"--to admit a rich women. Burk responded to a week-old WaPo opinion column by conservative professors Phyllis Chesler and Donna Hughes. Chesler and Hughes argued that feminists who opposed U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq were stuck in the 1960s:
Islamic fundamentalism threatens women all over the world. Wherever they have gained power, Islamists have denied women their essential humanity and dignity. Islamic fundamentalism is not conservative religion but a fascist political movement that aims for world domination. Many feminists are out of touch with the realities of the war that has been declared against the secular, Judeo-Christian, modern West. They are still romanticizing and cheering for Third World anti-colonialist movements, without a realistic view of what will happen to the global status of women if the Islamists win. Many feminists continue to condemn the United States, a country in which, for the most part, their ideas have triumphed.
Burk denied feminists were soft on radical Muslims:
Feminists sounded the alarm on the Taliban years before Sept. 11, 2001, making them a household word. National Council of Women's Organizations groups are working with women in Iraq to craft equal rights language for their constitution.
I don't doubt Burk--many liberals condemned and still oppose Islamic oppression of women. Still such dissent is purely nominal: the vast majority on the left proposed nothing constructive. Rather, they protested or stripped naked within easy driving distance. Rallies were confined to countries free from torture or extra-judicial murder--places where freedom of speech and assembly already are guaranteed. Admonishment of Iraqi atrocities was brief, invariably punctuated by "but," which in turn summoned endless scolding of America.

Radical Islam remains an enemy of freedom, especially for women. Simply put, Shari'a law is uncivilized. The State Department's annual report on human rights, released this week, is replete with examples:
Saudi Arabia: "[A]rrested men and women found together who were not married or closely related."

Kuwait: "Married women require their husbands' permission to obtain a passport."

Tunisia: "[A]pproximately 20 cases of young women who were slashed with razorblades by one or more male assailants riding mopeds, reportedly because the women were dressed in a style Islamists viewed as immodest."

Nigeria: "Khadi judges subjected women to harsh sentences for fornication or adultery based solely upon the fact of pregnancy, while men were not convicted without eyewitnesses unless they confessed."
Horrible. But the State Department report probably understates the calamity. Just scan the popular "Ask the Iman" website. An anonymous Muslim sought guidance on the "status of women taken as prisoners during jihad." Lucky for our letter writer, Mufti Ebrahim Desai (of the "FATWA DEPT") could help:
In the "Jihads" (Islamic wars) that took place, women were also, at times, taken as prisoners of war by the Muslim warriors. These women captives used to be distributed as part of the booty among the soldiers, after their return to Islamic territory. Each soldier was then entitled to have relations ONLY with the slave girl over whom he was given the RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP and NOT with those slave girls that were not in his possession. This RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP was given to him by the "Ameerul-Mu'mineen" (Head of the Islamic state.) Due to this right of ownership, it became lawful for the owner of a slave girl to have intercourse with her.

It may, superficially, appear distasteful to copulate with a woman who is not a man's legal wife, but once Shariah makes something lawful, we have to accept it as lawful, whether it appeals to our taste, or not; and whether we know its underlying wisdom or not.
I'll bet Susan Brownmuller's glad to learn Islamic rape is "distasteful." Too bad it's Allah's will. At least for female slaves. While Araby burns, feminists focus on work-place speech codes, twenty-year old pats on the thigh and pornography's wound to all women--whether or not anyone sees the pictures, whether or not the models volunteered and were well compensated.

Neither marches nor nudity freed Afghani and Iraqi women. Law review articles and international bureaucracies contributed nothing. Liberation was won when soldiers, guns and tanks battled evil. Words and intentions do matter. But when words fail, power prevails. Sometimes justice requires force.

In the second week of April, 2003, Martha Burk and about 50 supporters fought for a women's right to be a snob. That same week, halfway across the world, US and British forces toppled Hussein's dictatorship, freeing Iraq--and millions of Iraqi women. Liberals "opposed;" Bush acted. Which prompts a question: Comparing the chatter of liberals like Burk with the achievements of the United States Marines, which did more for women?


California Blogger Catherine Seipp suggests another link between liberalism and inaction:
What's remarkable about Wolf's screeds is their constant "Eek, a mouse!" tone of girlish fright - a tone that has seeped from feminist rhetoric into the general rhetoric of the left. This became particularly evident after Sept. 11, when various commentators immediately began fretting that Bush's America/John Ashcroft/Red State Crushing of Dissent etc. filled them with more terror than actual terrorists. There used to be something unseemly about constantly quaking in your boots, but no longer, and to read Wolf is to be reminded where this attitude comes from.
(Via Instapundit.)