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When the all-male Iraqi Army faced a fight with ISIS, they turned tail and ran away.  But there is one constituency in Iraq that has more "skin" in the game, and every incentive to fight as if their lives depend on it.  That would be Iraqi women.  

It's time to give them that opportunity, and thereby begin to right one of the most egregious historic and current evils on the planet: male supremacy and de-facto female slavery in the Middle East, like a Berlin Wall of gender that winds its way through the entire region.

Mr. President, please, tear down that wall.

I can't claim to be a feminist.  I've always felt uncomfortable applying that term to myself as a nominal male: this is a struggle that is owned by women and must be led by women, a struggle in which men play a supporting role.  In light of that I can only consider myself a supporter of feminism, and in light of that, I recognize that my "modest proposal" may turn out to be, as physicists say, "not even wrong."  With that caveat in mind...

ISIS is an existential threat to Iraq, to Syria, and ultimately to other countries in the region.  Bear in mind that ISIS was thrown out of Al Qaeda for being too brutal.  If they succeed in their objectives, the people who live under their rule will be subjected to a bloodbath of epic proportions, to the extent that the beheading videos will become routine.

One of the clearest measures of human rights in any country is the status of women.  Do girls have the same educational opportunities as boys?  Can young women choose their path in adulthood: education, career, if or who they marry?  Do women have the same rights under law as men?  Do women of every age, and boys as well, live in constant fear of rape?  Are rapists and their ilk prosecuted and punished, or are the victims themselves further brutalized by punishment up to and including the death penalty?

There is an unpleasant truth, that women had it better in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, than they do now.  They could drive, they could vote, they could get an education and choose their careers.  The new Iraqi constitution establishes Sharia law in family matters, which is to say, it subjugates women.  Women have lost many of the rights they had under the old regime.  That is nothing short of a disgrace to the legacy of US engagement in Iraq.

If ISIS gains power it will get worse. Much worse.  Worse than what women endured under the Taliban in Afghanistan.  I needn't go over those horrific details further, you can search on or (don't use Google) and find enough to make you throw up.

The Iraqi army is a male-dominated institution, probably all-male or nearly so.  If there are any women at all, they probably play only the most minimal and minor roles.  When push came to shove, what did these men do?  These men whose rights supersede all rights of women?  They chickened out and ran away from the fight, in droves.  In doing so, they forfeited the role of protectors, dishonored themselves, and thereby also forfeit any claim to supremacy over women in Iraqi society.  The logic here is unassailable.  

Iraqi women have the most to lose and the most to gain.  They have the most to lose under ISIS rule.  They will become property, passing from ownership by their fathers, to ownership by their arranged husbands, often men old enough to be their fathers.  They have the most to gain by vanquishing and liquidating ISIS.  Success in combat will firmly establish an incontrovertible claim to female equality in a manner that cannot be refused.  

Mr. President, you can do this.  You can offer the Iraqi government a deal they cannot refuse, because they are not in any position to refuse it.  You can send in American Special Forces to exclusively train Iraqi women to fight, and arm them with the weapons they need to do the job.  You can issue orders that enable American women in uniform to participate in leading roles in this process.  And you can back up our presence in these training roles, with the technology needed to support the fight.

If this succeeds it will not only defeat one brutalist insurgency and save one country.  It will unleash a tsunami of demand for female equality throughout the entire region.  It will also spell the inevitable end of terrorist groups who thrive on ideologies that include the subjugation of women, because women throughout the region will rise up and destroy them.

This could truly change the world.  There is everything to gain and nothing to lose by trying.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Credit to a close friend for the core idea. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Susan from 29, felicityshort, tikkun

    For the moment he'll remain anonymous unless he wants to speak up.    

    He's studied global conflicts in depth.  He thought of the idea of training women as security & military forces years ago in reference to Afghanistan.  That idea is every bit as applicable today in Iraq.

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:22:15 PM PDT

    •  This has been on my mind for 4 years (0+ / 0-)

      both regarding Afghanistan and in Iraq.  Those with the most skin in the game...literally the words that came to mind, are the women.  

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 07:53:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  These women would agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

    by Utahrd on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:26:04 PM PDT

  •  There are plenty of courageous women... (8+ / 0-)

    There are a lot of feminists in Iraq. My good friend Rezan Dler Mustafa was just elected to the Iraqi parliament. Rezan is Kurdish - the feminist movement is older and deeper there, but there are plenty of feminists in Baghdad too, and they are slowly influencing the culture.

    Rezan has prosecuted sex traffickers, mediated threatened honor killings, prosecuted a child rapist, and helped get the Kurdistan government to agree to minimum standards for women's shelters.  She is utterly fearless.  

    I wish more Americans knew more of the courageous people throughout the Middle East like Rezan.  It's not hopeless, not by a long shot.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:28:37 PM PDT

    •  Wow. Setting an example. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ivorybill, DavidMS

      Your friend Rezan sets an amazing example on every level.

      YES we need to hear more about her, and more about others who are like her.  

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:45:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But, they need to be able to fight physically (0+ / 0-)

      They can do all kinds of work to implement justice, but when the barbarians are at the gates, they need to be able to fight as effective organized, well trained troops.  

      Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

      by tikkun on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 07:57:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Children too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    River Rover

    Arm them all to the teeth.

    You best believe it does

    by HangsLeft on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:30:50 PM PDT

  •  There is some precedent for this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    River Rover, The Termite, G2geek

    There were a number of female peshmerga in Kurdistan in the past, and the PKK in Turkey has many female fighters.

    In the Arab world, not so much.  

    It's actually not terribly practical since families will not permit women to fight and they don't have the autonomy to fight.

    And it can also backfire.  Women have been used as suicide bombers in Iraq before.  ISIS is as likely to recruit women as anyone else.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:32:17 PM PDT

    •  I can't even pretend to know how to... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... approach the sensitive cultural diplomacy that would be involved in this.

      But the blunt truth is that the male dominated Iraqi Army has demonstrated cowardice in the face of the enemy, which is the ultimate form of dishonor.  This is inescapable, and it leads directly to the conclusion that men have forfeited any claim to supremacy, and it is now time for women to take charge of the fight.

      How that truth can be put into effect, I don't know.  It may require sensitive language.  Or it might be done by stating the facts bluntly, and effectively shaming Iraqi men into putting up with it.  

      We have the diplomats and the military people who have the expertise about how to approach this.  I trust that if President Obama was to choose to take these steps, he would know who to speak with and how to put it in motion.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:53:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  many Iraqis (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        were simultaneously impressed and appalled to see so many American women in uniform, armed.

        The Iraqi and Kurdish governments both hire female police officers... more so in Kurdistan, but even in Baghdad there are female police.  They are sometimes assigned to units that deal with crimes against women.

        But soldiers?  One issue is that many people will see this as yet another Western cultural import and react against it.  Another issue is that cultural conditioning runs deep - some of the strongest opponents of this will be women, even those who also oppose ISIS.  The final caution is that the idea of a female fighter is so offensive to the fundies that if they were to catch one... given their brutality and religious blinders... they would torture her in unbelievable ways before executing her.  ISIS did rape a number of women in Mosul, and has forced others to "marry" fighters  These guys are largely women-haters and there would be no limits if a female combatant were to be captured.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 05:05:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  there are times when "imports" are better. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ivorybill, Prognosticator, tikkun

          Western imperialist imported vaccines are better than native Pakistani polio.

          Western imperialist imported feminism is better than native subjugation of women.

          Middle Eastern women don't feel any less pain when they're raped, than women in other parts of the world.   (Anyone who reads this and is tempted to reply by advocating some kind of postmodernist cultural relativism can bite me.)

          The Kurds seem more progressive along a number of axes of measurement, than some of the factions over there.  I'm surprised and happy to hear that the Baghdad gov hires women police officers.  

          The fact that there are women-haters lurking, is all the more reason to train & arm women.  Women who have succeeded in combat will have zero tolerance for male supremacist attitudes, and men who push it will risk discovering for themselves the value of women's courage in combat.

          Understood that women who are captured may face unspeakable tortures.  That fact will no doubt be readily apparent to every women who volunteers.  Perhaps some of our technology can be of use here, by way of tracking the prisoners and directing drone strikes upon their captors.  Horrible to have to say this, but a quick death in a drone strike is preferable to a slow death under torture, so even if we can't be so precise as to spare the prisoners' lives while taking out their captors, the result would still be more merciful than if we refrained from acting.  And if anyone deserved the honor of the traditional concept of martyrdom, it would be those women who died in combat against ISIS.  Their martyrdom will also contribute to the inevitable regional revolution.

          But the hard fact is, if these guys are such women-haters, then allowing them to take power (by failing to fight them to a conclusive defeat) will merely unleash the same kind of horrors but on a more drawn-out scale of time.  If anything, that would be worse, because it would not outrage the conscience of the world in the same way, and eventually things would return to "business as usual" while the long drawn-out trail of atrocities continued.

          We got the future back. Uh-oh.

          by G2geek on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 05:54:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And the male dominated governments (0+ / 0-)

        on all sides still treat women as chattel.  No one gives up power because it's right.  It must be taken. The only way to do that is to make sure the patriarchy understand that you are just as able to cut off heads as they are.

        American pacifists are all together too willing to see other people die for their values.  TIRESOME

        Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

        by tikkun on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 08:02:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  But that would put an end to endless war (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, Sneelock, tikkun

    I need your support, my paypal is:

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:44:03 PM PDT

    •  the case could be made... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Horace Boothroyd III, tikkun

      .... that it would in fact unleash tornadoes of revolution in every country in the region, and possibly cross-border conflicts between newly gender-equal states and those that still maintain male supremacy.  

      But the question is: are the rights of 50% of humanity in a major part of the world, worth fighting for?  I say YES.

      The Middle East is already a quagmire of tribal conflicts.  There is precious little peace in the region.  And for girls and women in male-supremacist countries, there is NO peace whatsoever.  Their entire cultures are at war against them, at cost of their liberty, at cost of their physical integrity, at cost of unspeakable and unbearable pain and suffering, and at cost of their very real and brutal deaths.  

      ISIS is one turn further down the hellhole spiral of increasing brutality toward women.  Boko Haram is another example of that kind of full-on unmitigated evil.  These groups, and the Taliban, are basically at war against women.

      There comes a point where you have to say enough! and be willing to sacrifice a peace that is peace in name only, to fight the war that will truly bring a sustainable peace for all.

      The threat that is ISIS, makes this one of those times.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 05:03:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Personally I'm Ready to Start Hearing Suggestions (5+ / 0-)

    coming FROM regions we've meddled with, rather than directed INTO them.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 04:48:42 PM PDT

  •  ANA's been at it for over a decade (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, DavidMS

    with the target of recruiting a force that is at least 10 percent women.  So far, there are about a few hundred of the 170,000 under arms. Gender integration in the armed forces is challenging under even the best of circumstances.  In a part of the world where women risk their lives simply expressing the desire to leave the house, I doubt that Americans could round up enough warm bodies to make a difference.

    •  a hypothesis to be tested, rather than a... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rduran, DavidMS, tikkun

      ... foregone conclusion.

      The only way to find out is to try.

      The historic circumstances have combined to make it worthwhile to try it now: the existential threat of ISIS, the cowardice of Iraqi manhood, and the fact that women have both the most to lose and the most to gain by the outcome.

      There are times when you have to say:  This is the turning point.  This is when history will be made and changed.  This is the crisis that is the opportunity.  And therefore, this is what we must do, and now is when we must do it.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Thu Jun 19, 2014 at 05:59:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, never let it be said that one data point (0+ / 0-)

        is a trend.   And assuming you can identify and gather recruits, there's no law of nature that says you have to train them in the AOR.

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