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 Ixquick.com or DuckDuckGo.com (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.