SHE SAID IT
"Our hope is vigorous and active and it is sustained by the outrageous courage of our sisters/foresisters who are ever more intensely present to us, beckoning and daring us to move further." - Mary Daly

June 1999
Vol. 1 - #4


Said It: Feminist News, Culture & Politics  

in this issue:

Unromanticizing Fatherhood

Who's Looking Out for Moms?

Resisting Without Violence


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Madeleine's War Apple

She looks like a mean animal with make-up, unnatural, a close close-up of a woman, an old woman, empowered with cell phone and political authority.

This is "Albright at War," as Time magazine presents her, and from the looks of the cover (5/17/99), Time seems to perceive that popular opinion in favor of the war is beginning to wane. A woman on the cover who is not nude? A woman is being credited for carrying out a war? You can guess that the efficacy of a war is starting to be questioned when the power behind the war is identified as female.

And female it is, Time magazine argues. The US catastrophic and inhumane bombing war against Yugoslavia--a war which caused the Serbian attacks against the ethnic Albanians to multiply rather than lessen; a war riddled with "accidental" bombings of hospitals, refugee camps, and a Chinese embassy; and marked by purposeful bombings of bridges, electrical power plants, and the use of depleted uranium--is "Madeleine's War."

"The Kosovo conflict is often referred to, by both her fans and foes, as Madeleine's War," explains the author of the article, Walter Isaacson. Isaccson, the managing editor of Time who last year fired Time's only feminist columnist, Barbara Ehrenreich, titled this article "Madeleine's War"--just in case we have trouble understanding exactly who the guilty party is. The article itself is a portrayal of Madeleine Albright as the political Eve who offered the apple to Adam, or rather, the many, many Adams running the world.

"...More than anyone else, she embodies the foreign policy vision that pushed these men into war," Isaacson writes. "And she is the one most responsible for holding the allies--and the Administration--firm in pursuit of victory." Poor Clinton, poor Blair, poor Robin Cook, poor NATO, poor General Wesley Clark, poor Milosevic, poor rapists and war criminals, poor US military industrial complex, poor war-profiting transnationals. They didn't want war. It's just that they just couldn't resist the war apple that Eve, er, Madeleine offered to them.

Like the fall, the result of this woman's influence has been disastrous. Madeleine's critics "see Madeleine's War as the latest example of an incoherent foreign policy driven by moral impulses and mushy sentiments, one that hectors and scolds other nations to obey our sanctimonious dictates and ineffectively bombs or sanctions them if they don't." Could Isaacson have fit any more allusions to traditional stereotypes of women, of mothers in particular, in this single sentence? Probably not, but he fits many more of them into the article.

According to Isaacson, Madeleine is responsible for the current "tough-talking, semi-muscular intervention that believes in using force." I guess we can ultimately blame feminists--who insisted that President Clinton carry through with his promise to appoint women to positions of power--for putting this semi-muscular woman in a position where only fully muscular men are suppose to be. Subsequently, Albright has single-handedly transformed NATO into an aggressive rather than a defensive alliance, and is in the process of transforming the US military from a disciplined force with clear goals based on self-interest into the world's ineffectual and confused moral police.

The feminine mess, as Time sees it, as Isaacson presents it, evolved in large part from Madeleine's inability to make clear decisions based on national self-interest. Yet despite her fumbling incompetence, she magically influenced the rulers of powerful nations who, according to Isaacson, have no real reason for waging this war. No profit-motive; no strategic interest in the Balkans; no desire to experiment with the latest military technology; no notions to use billions of dollars worth of weaponry so that more needs to be purchased; no thoughts of breaking up a formerly socialist country to make it amenable for cheap labor for multinational corporations. No desire on the part of the US President to cleanse his sleazy, impeached ass through the killing of civilians in Yugoslavia and Iraq. These normally clear thinking men are momentarily not thinking in their own self-interests. They have been tricked by a "semi-muscular" woman who is full of "mushy sentiments."

NATO and the US will soon end the war, while NATO's "humanitarian goals"--of protecting the ethnic Albanians--could not be realized, since the war has already caused so much more destruction to ethnic Albanians than the Serbs had carried out previous to the bombings. When the war ends, the US and NATO's real goals will have been met, but those goals were never made apparent, so victory will not be apparent. Miloscevic will eventually be forced into cowering submission, but the war will not be seen as a brave victory. The country's infrastructure will have been destroyed, the land poisoned, many people killed, or made homeless, or raped, then prostituted. The US and NATO will win the war, but they already failed at their purported humanitarian goal.

So Time, in preparation for the public's questions, assigns blame to Madeleine. She is so stupid at war, Time tells us, she almost gave Colin Powell an "aneurysm" by having a conversation with him. Remember General Colin Powell? According to Isaacson, Powell "gave his name to the doctrine that the military should be used only after a clear political goal has been set, and then only with decisive force." In fact, Powell is the same man who just a few years back led a war that killed an estimated 130,000 Iraqis and left environmental and humanitarian disasters for generations to come--all to get Iraq out of Kuwait, a dictatorship over the majority of its people.

Colin Powell became a celebrated hero. He is a great military leader. He carried out sensible acts of war. Are you taking notes, Madeleine?

Of course, Madeleine already took notes. That's why she is secretary of state. She is not aberrant in the rank and file among men. There is no need to refer to her by her first name. It is her similarity to the men around her that make her a military success. She is not radically different from the president who appointed her, from the men who rule the other NATO countries, from the men who organized the rapes, murders, and expulsions of ethnic Albanians, from the men waging war in the world now, from the men who have organized and carried out war in the past.

It is her similarities to them that are remarkable. And it is the maleness of this war, which continues to kill innocent masses, and never had a humanitarian goal, that is utterly ordinary.



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