Thursday, April 2, 2009

Secretary of State Clinton on Afghanistan and Women - UPDATED

I want to let you know that as of Tuesday, 4/7, I will be on vacation in Europe for two weeks. I do not plan on posting anything during that time. As always, I refer you to my Blogroll, and to No Quarter, my home away from home.

Oh - and don't worry about the puppies - they will be well cared for in our absence, as will the rest of our animals.

This photo was taken in London, when Secretary of State Clinton joined Obama at the G-20.

Secretary Clinton had a meeting at the Hague March 31st on issues related to Afghanistan. The following video is of the follow-up press conference to Secretary Clinton's remarks. The very last question deals with the issue of women in Afghanistan:

Here is the transcript of the last question:
MR. WOOD: Okay, the last question will be from Amina Mayr from the Killid Group.

QUESTION: Okay. Sorry, we don’t not speak English, but (inaudible).

(Via interpreter) What’s the plan for the Afghan women in new strategy for their improvement? Because as we’ve seen the past, there were some – there were just some (inaudible) for the women in Afghan society. Is there new changes in the new strategy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there’s a continuing commitment to women and girls, to their well-being, to their education, their healthcare, to their full integration into society that I am very committed to, as is President Obama. So this is an area of absolute concern on the part of the United States. We’re looking for ways that can produce even more opportunities for women and girls in Afghanistan.

I’ve briefly met with some of the women parliamentarians who are here at the conference. And my message is very clear: Women’s rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama Administration; they are not marginal; they are not an add-on or an afterthought.

I believe, as does President Obama, that the roles and rights of women in any society is a key indicator as to the stability and potential for peace, prosperity, and democracy of that society. So I would be committed to women’s roles and rights because of my lifelong concern about women. But as Secretary of State, I am equally committed because it’s absolutely the smart strategy for the United States and other nations to pursue.

You cannot expect a country to develop if half its population are underfed, undereducated, under cared for, oppressed, and left on the sidelines. And we believe strongly that that’s not in the interests of Afghanistan or any country, and it certainly is not part of our foreign policy or our strategic review. So we will continue to work very hard on behalf of women and girls in Afghanistan and around the world.

Well, I do believe Clinton cares about women and girls - she has demonstrated that passion time and time again. Obama? Not so much. From the sexist, misogynistic behavior he demonstrated throughout the Primaries and the campaign, to his choice of Tim Kaine as DNC chair, he cannot claim to be anywhere NEAR Clinton on this issue.

Maybe when she says "the Obama Administration," she means herself. Heaven knows, she can make that claim.

And from one of those unsung people who serve our country abroad, from the State Department Blog, a video of Beverli DeWalt, who worked with women in Afghanistan:

This is a terribly important issue. Since it has been a while since we began the war in Afghanistan, perhaps we have forgotten how horribly women were treated under the Taliban:

Desperate times under the Taliban in Afghanistan. Since the US helped the Taliban take control (and HERE, for starters), it is only fitting that we work to repair the damage done, especially to women and girls.

Thank heavens for Secretary Clinton. I have faith that she will work hard to promote women's and girls' rights in Afghanistan, in conjunction with the current leadership in Afghanistan**. And with our support, I have hope that she will.

** I just received this article from one of my fellow writers at No Quarter, Naif Sag Tan, and it is disturbing in the extreme, especially as it relates to women and girls in Afghanistan. Apparently, Karzai doesn't support women and girls as much as he said he did, if the following article is correct: Silence Meets Despair of Afghan Women

Afghanistan's women are no longer in vogue.

It was only a few years ago that Laura Bush, who normally shied from causes that could be considered controversial, took up their banner. "The brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists," the first lady said in a radio address shortly after President Bush launched the U.S-led invasion to overthrow the Taliban following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "The plight of women and children in Afghanistan is a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who seek to intimidate and control."

That was then. This is now: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has just signed a law that forces women to obey their husbands' sexual demands, keeps women from leaving the house -- even for work or school -- without a husband's permission, automatically grants child custody rights to fathers and grandfathers before mothers, and favors men in inheritance disputes and other legal matters. In short, the law again consigns Afghan women to lives of brutal repression.

"This is really, really dangerous for everybody in Afghanistan," Soraya Sobhrang of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said in a telephone interview from Kabul. Noting that violence against women already is rampant, Sobhrang said the new law effectively "legalizes all violence against women in Afghanistan."

The legislation zoomed through Afghanistan's parliament quickly. Karzai, who faces elections in August, signed it in an apparent effort to placate conservative religious factions. The United Nations Development Fund for Women says it is still analyzing a final version of the legislation, but is "seriously concerned" about its impact. It appears to contradict both the Afghan constitution, which guarantees equal rights for men and women, and international conventions on human rights.

The U.S. State Department has had no immediate comment.

Afghanistan's women are, apparently, the latest casualty of the Obama administration's tilt toward realpolitik: ignore human rights violations -- whether they're in China, Russia or in the quiet misery of an Afghan villager's home -- in pursuit of larger foreign policy goals.

This contradiction between political rhetoric and policy reality has often been the American way. But now we have Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. When she was first lady, she championed the rights of women oppressed by the Taliban long before most Americans had ever heard of that radical regime. Clinton took the helm of the State Department vowing to elevate the cause of human and economic rights for women and girls -- a pledge she made again in The Hague this week at the end of a major conference on Afghanistan that was aimed at securing greater international cooperation on the desperate and disparate crises there.

"My message is very clear. Women's rights are a central part of American foreign policy in the Obama administration; they are not marginal, they are not an add-on or an afterthought," Clinton said in response to a general question about the situation confronting women in Afghan society. "You cannot expect a country to develop if half its population (is) underfed, undereducated, under cared for, oppressed, and left on the sidelines."

The secretary was not asked specifically about the new law. Among other provisions, it guarantees that married men can have sex once every four nights and wives must submit. In effect, it legalizes marital rape. Sobhrang worries there may be worse to come. "They are talking about child marriage," she says.

HOLY CRAP!!!! How has this been able to happen, with our tax dollars pouring into Afghanistan, and the "great" relationship we allegedly enjoyed with Karzai? Why are we just now hearing about this?

The article continues:
Without pressure from foreign powers who hold so much sway in Afghanistan, there was little even women in the country's parliament could do. Sobhrang faults those who were quiet in the face of the clear effort by a religious faction that is said to hold the balance of power in Karzai's re-election bid to reimpose medieval mores on a country that is in many ways a ward of the contemporary international community.

The ugly truth in Afghanistan is that it has long been sliding back into the violent chaos that is friendly political ground for the Taliban and other extremist groups. Women have, as usual, been among the chief victims.

There is indeed a lengthy and urgent to-do list for the Obama administration, which says it is determined to abandon a failing course. But that does not mean the United States should again fail Afghanistan's women.

To consign them to what Laura Bush correctly called "deliberate human cruelty" is cruelty itself. (

WHY wasn't there pressure from other countries? HOW did they justify this horrible turn of events?

It would seem, then, that Secretary Clinton has her work cut out for her. So do the women and girls in Afghanistan. And we must stand WITH them to insure they, too, have freedom, rights, and dignity. Anything less is unacceptable.


SFIndie said...

Add to all that horror The Pretender's pick for State Dept Legal Advisor, and it's not hard to see that Hillary will be swimming against the tide when it comes to this administration's commitment to women's rights. It's downright scary.

Have a great vacation! Here's a little something my Repub friend sent me; I laughed until I realized how true it might be!

The Department Of Defense briefed the President this morning.

They told President Obama that 2 Brazilian soldiers were killed in Iraq.

To everyone's surprise, all the color drained from Obama's face. Then he collapsed onto his desk, head in his hands, visibly shaken, almost in tears.

Finally, he composed himself and asked, "Just how many is a brazilian?'"

This is not surprising, since he obviously has no understanding of billion or trillion either.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

ROTFLMAO - that was funny - except Obama would not shed a tear (unless robots can do that now). Good one, SF!!

Thanks - I appreciate that - we have been planning this trip for a long time, many, many months before the pregnant dog showed up on our doorstep!

And I agree - is is downright scary. I don't know how Hillary is going to do it. She's already been stabbed in te back by Gates and Obama on North Korea. After she gave a very good, nuanced response to the NK issue, then those bozos came out and said, "Well, gee, there really isn't anything we can do abt it anyway..." Sigh...

Nice to hear from you!