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Friday, June 20, 2008

Re: 2008 It’s 10 O’clock. Do President Bush and John McCain Know Where Condoleezza Rice Is?

posted by on June 20 at 16:17 PM

Apropos of Josh’s post yesterday about the “pg. 856,000 NYT story” on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s meeting with Hezbollah… Bush’s own secretary of state, in her capacity as the chair of the UN Security Council, gave a moving speech yesterday just before the council officially classified rape as a “tactic of war.”

According to the BBC, the resolution

described sexual violence as “a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group”.

The document said that the violence “can significantly exacerbate situations of armed conflict and may impede the restoration of international peace and security”.

AFP has more from Rice’s speech.

“Rape is a crime that can never be condoned. Yet women and girls in conflict situations around the world have been subjected to widespread and deliberate acts of sexual violence,” she said.

“Today’s resolution establishes a mechanism for bringing those atrocities to light,” the US chief diplomat said.

She stressed the resolution directs the UN secretary general to prepare an action plan for collecting data on the use of sexual violence in armed conflict and then reporting that information to the council.

Rice cited the example of Myanmar where she said “soldiers have regularly raped women and girls even as young as eight years old.

“What is tragic also in that country is that instead of being allowed to take the office as the elected leader of Burma’s government, (opposition leader) Aung San Suu Kyi is marking her (63rd) birthday this very day under house arrest,” the US chief diplomat said.

“We cannot forget as we examine this issue other women activists who struggle for freedom under violent environments,” she added.

Rice also referred to widespread acts of sexual violence in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan.

The US diplomat highlighted acts of sexual violence perpetrated by UN peacekeepers in several countries around the world.

“As an international community we have a special responsibility to punish perpetrators of sexual violence who are representatives of international organizations,” she noted.

Amazing as it is that this (like Rice’s meeting with officially designated terrorist group Hezbollah) is coming from the Bush administration, I won’t really be impressed until they start taking seriously the fact that one in three women in the US armed forces has been a victim of sexual assault.

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One of the problems when you make your living killing people is that you become willing and able to carry out all kinds of gratuitous violence on top of what your job entails. All sorts of military codes of honor have been developed over the centuries to try to focus the violence into a narrow band under the control of the state. The problem with all those codes of honor is that they are just as effective at making the military resist orders from rogue governments that want them to carry out acts of torture or theft of natural resources or suppression of civil liberties.

So an administration that weakens the foundation of military conduct unleashes something they can't control that spills over even on their own troops. There was a time when they thought they were so clever calling these rules "quaint."

Posted by elenchos | June 20, 2008 4:43 PM

Elenchos, there's a bit of a difference between the ease with which a soldier has tradionally extended his war power into the sexual realm and what's happening in the DR of the Congo, where rape is an official policy designed to humiliate, destroy and force out a population. Rape is not an unpleasant side effect of war in Congo; it IS THE POLICY; it is the means of war. It's different, and it's worse.

Getting any action through the UN is impossible, of course, because in the UN "human rights" MEANS the fundamental right to use rape as a way to execute policy, as long as that policy is formulated by non-Western powers. Objecting to rape is a violation of human rights, in their view.

I applaud Ms. Rice's recent conversion to the right side of this issue, and only ask "where the fuck have you been for the past seven years?"

Posted by Fnarf | June 20, 2008 5:17 PM

It's a wonderful speech and resolution, and a nice change from Rice. Now it needs teeth. Oh, and don't forget that we need to get our own military house in order.

Posted by Greg | June 20, 2008 6:57 PM

Wow... the comments on that article that you linked to are absolutely disgusting. "Anyone who joins the army deserves what they get"? I'm so tired of this impulse to demonize soldiers, to assume that they're all (or mostly) vicious thugs... I'm a female Army officer, I've been in the Army for five years, and I've never once felt even remotely threatened by a male soldier. Most soldiers are lovely, courageous people.

Posted by Lydia | June 22, 2008 9:28 PM

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