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International Politics

26 Jun



Heather Thibault Part One: Women in Combat

June 26, 2005 | By | 5 Comments

My dear, Heather. It’s not about YOU.

Heather Thibault was a medic in Iraq with the Army National Guard and recently returned home from Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad. A profile of her in yesterday’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter was titled Limits on combat upset female medic. The subtitle: “Ready, willing and unable to fight.”

Because, of course, it’s all about Heather. Heather is, “upset.” Heather is, “feisty.” Heather is, “buff.” Heather is, “angered.”

Why is she angry? Because Heather has, according to the paper, “Right uniform, wrong chromosome.”


Heather Thibault

Photo Credit:

Meryl Schenker

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Well, before we get too worked up about that wrong chromosome, here’s another thing Heather is:

Heather is, “barely 5 feet” tall. Doesn’t say whether that includes her combat boots. It does say that Heather is, all of 125 pounds.

Her service to our country should be honored — the article says she has nightmares from her experiences caring for the wounded in Iraq. Her hands were bloodied in the care of wounded, as nurses did during Vietnam, and other wars.

But battlefield medics are charged with evacuating wounded. While the reporter is busy venting spleen over the big, bad “military policy” keeping Heather out of combat — as if engaging the enemy is some glorified Disneyland ride that they kept her from experiencing — the article doesn’t express any interest in Thibault’s ability, or not, to carry a 180 pound soldier (plus 80 lbs of battle rattle) out of harm’s way.

The article snears at this concern as a “weaker sex” argument. So be it. I wouldn’t bet my son’s life on her upper body strength.

NO one has a “right” to go into combat. We’re facing a relentless drumbeat from the media, with stories of individual women who “should be allowed” to go into combat. But it’s not about them. It’s not about the individual. Combat is about the mission, unit cohesion and survival.

Those men we do ask to risk their lives — and the hopes and dreams of all those who love them — by going into combat have the right to expect us to do everything humanly possible to give them the best chance of coming out alive.

That’s the only right we should be concerned about.

* * *

There’s a subtext to this story that is worth mentioning. The article mentions that since returning from Iraq, Heather has been visiting local schools to talk with young people. Here’s what she has to say about the war on terror:

We’re throwing rocks at a hornet’s nest, turning moderates into religious fanatics, and you’re going to inherit the problem. …

It kind of sucks when you piss off the whole world.

Maybe she forgot that whole World Trade Center meltdown thing. . .

* * *

Thanks Mrs. Greyhawk for Open Post at Mudville.

And check out Wizbang‘s Carnival of the Trackbacks. . .

Then dance over to Beth’s Vast Right Wing Conspiracy and her Open Trackbacks. . .

More women a-fighting at Shakespeare’s Sister at BlogWhoring.

Knowledge is Power has some thoughts and appreciation for sacrifice women make.

02 Jun



The European Finger . . . Dutch Vote Nee! : Why We Should Care

June 2, 2005 | By | 5 Comments

Should Americans care about the vote to ratify a Constitution for the European Union? Following Monday’s “non” vote from the French, the 16 million Dutch voted NO yesterday, with a resounding 62 percent rejecting the proposed EU charter.


European Union Flag

Dutch and French say Nee et Non

Should we care? It’s a very interesting development for political scientists, but how ’bout for real-world Americans?

The answer, surprisingly, comes from: Indra Nooyi, President of PepsiCo. In her speech to Columbia University where she compared the world to a hand, and the United States to the middle finger, Nooyi told us that the index finger, the European Finger, points the way:

Our index, or pointer finger, is Europe. Europe is the cradle of democracy and pointed the way for western civilization and the laws we use in conducting global business.

There is an attitude, among the international intellectual elite, that Europe does point the way. I use the word “international” elite deliberately: it’s not just Europeans; it’s not just Indra Nooyi. There are those among the American elite who would like us to move toward a more “multilateral” approach, adopting a more deferential stance toward international opinion and mores — but most troubling, international law as well.

In an essential article in the Winter 2004 issue of the Public Interest, “Multilateralism Comes to the Courts,” Ken Kersch, of Princeton, lays out in exquisite detail the movement among many American legal scholars to establish international norms and treaties in authority over domestic sovereignty. (The link goes to the Public Interest home page; to access the article, navigate to Winter 2004 through the “Archives” link.) Kersch’s quotes from scholars like Peter Singer of Princeton, author of One World (and infanticide advocate) and Martha Nussbaum of University of Chicago, and Rogers Smith of University of Pennsylvania, are troubling. But it is his citations of “cosmopolitan” attitudes among our sitting Supreme Court Justices that are particularly noteworthy:

In Grutter v. Bollinger, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (joined by Justice Stephen Breyer) cited both the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (which the United States has ratified) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (which it has not) as evidence of an “international understanding of the office of affirmative action.” In Justice Ginsburg’s view, these international conventions provide the grounds for “temporary special measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality.” (Bold emphasis mine.)

In Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Anthony Kennedy prominently recurred to a friend-of-the-Court brief on foreign law and court decisions filed by Mary Robinson, the former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and to a key decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the (legal) forum — the subtext about yesterday’s vote: the European Finger seems to have a wrist below — the (pesky) people — turning the hand in another direction. That’s the populous uncertainty with a referendum, a democracy. . . it’s called a vote.

The intellectual elite — whether they be the American, European, or UN variety — don’t seem to understand the central importance to “We The People” of national identity. Or, more precisely, they don’t care. But that is a strategic miscalculation: they fail to appreciate the cohesive power that identification produces.

Nee et Non. Now they have to care.


Welcome Instapundit readers. See Glenn’s analysis of the vote here.

John at Powerline has two good posts on the EU votes, here and here.

Also see what King at SCSU Scholars says about the EU vote more generally (Cool graphs at his site.)

Gallic Orange State, Blue State Politics: France, the European Union and NATO

May 30, 2005 | By | No Comments

Napoleon was stepping through battlefield carnage when an aide grieved over the horrific loss of life. Bonaparte replied that France could replace the bloody losses in a single night from a Paris whorehouse.


Image Credit: Liberation

Today’s European leaders seem to have a similar lack of regard for the French citoyen. To the horror of the European ruling elite, the French have rejected ratification of the European Union constitution fairly soundly. However the Daily Telegraph says that the EU leaders view the vote as merely a disappointing speedbump in their resolute march to unification:

Ignore all the febrile threats of chaos. Far more accurate was the analysis given by Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and currently the holder of the EU Presidency: “If it is a ‘Yes’ we carry on; if it is a ‘No’ we carry on.” There you have it: as neat a statement of the EU’s guiding philosophy as you could ask for. The project is far too important to be denied by the ballot box.

(From Chrenkoff, who covers the vote with outstanding links, including this one to Mark Steyn, “EU just won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”)

Of course, as leaders throughout history (including Napoleon) have learned, political hubris can lead to stunning miscalculation. It isn’t all that easy to ignore the will of the people. And it appears that the French may have to contend with their own “red-state/blue-state” issues.

Or orange and blue, as Liberation styles it. (This via Bad Hair Blog with excellent reporting and analysis.)

The vote map (above) shows “blue states” voting “oui;” light yellow voting 50-50% “non;” darker yellow voting 55-60% “non;” and orange voting over 60% “non.” Just like recent American elections, there are clear regional patterns of voting. One of the more interesting results is the dark orange swath of voters in the northeastern area of France: the area closest to Brussels, the seat of the EU.

And, indeed, sovereignty was a real issue in this vote. The Washington Post reports on the non vote:

“I voted no out of a concern for democracy,” said Gilles Noeul, 28, an engineer who attended an opposition victory rally Sunday night in Paris. “For me, the decisions should not be made by Europe, but by each nation. I want France to make decisions for herself.”

Still, though Americans instinctively tap into this “defense of sovereignty” angle of the vote, it is important to avoid imposing an American filter on the French vote. Bad Hair Blog provides a translation of a Spanish blog which lists five reasons for the vote. I want to emphasize the first two: concern over high French unemployment rates (it’s 10%) . . . and concern over the EU’s, relatively (compared to France), greater emphasis on free-market principles.

Right. Fix unemployment by going more socialist?? Again: avoid looking at this vote through an American lens. These citoyens ain’t us, ain’t U.S.

No, the French have a Gallic reasoning all their own. And those who remain optimistic about EU prospects, in the face of this defeat, might do well to recall the French retreat from NATO in 1966.

This is not the first time the French have waved le tricolore and distanced themselves from international partnership. Then-French President Charles DeGaulle stated that NATO was unnecessary, because France would have an independent nuclear striking force or force de frappe. By 1967 the French had built a fleet of nuclear bombers.

During the Cold War the French did not want to subordinate the defense of France to NATO. And now the French don’t want to surrender sovereignty to the EU.

(So, yes, there are two, two times that the French wouldn’t surrender. Three, if you count speaking French in Quebec.)

All fun French jokes aside, it’s a cautionary tale for EU enthusiasts.


Image Credit: BBC

Nine countries have ratified the treaty: Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.


Ahoy to Captain’s Quarter’s

Polished red apple to Betsy’s Page

More at Jackson’s Junction who alerts us to Iowa Voice

Another interesting angle on this story: the Left is divided, a complicated story which defies easy summary. . . See Daily Kos here.

Right Wing News writes well on the EU as bad news.

danieldrezner has an excellent international relations (IR) take.