THE SPINE OCTOBER 1, 2009
Hillary Clinton has become the president's secretary for women's affairs, and she's done a good job at it--within the severe limits of what realistically can be done to protect females from sexual violence in war zones. On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council met, with Hillary in the chair, and as the Associated Press put it, "adopted a resolution ... condemning sexual violence in war zones." The resolution passed unanimously which is always a bad sign because it signals inadequate measures, which are the only ones that will get support from the five permanent members.
Mrs, Clinton appealed "for global action to end the scourge." The council created a "special envoy" (my, how many special envoys there are around the world) to combat the use of rape as a weapon of way. The resolution also mandates the U.N. secretary general "to dispatch a team of experts to advise governments on how best to prosecute offenders."
Clinton told the council:
It is time for all of us to assume our responsibility to go beyond condemning this behavior to taking concrete steps to end it, to make it socially unacceptable, to recognize it is not cultural, it is criminal ... We must act now to end this crisis.
And the president, from Washington, applauded the U.N. and its member states "for standing together to confront these despicable acts."
Today the United States joins with the international community in a sending a simple and unequivocal message: Violence against women and children will not be tolerated and must be stopped.
This American initiative at the Security Council follows on Hillary's seven country, eleven day tour of central Africa in August during which she raised the same matters, as Mary Beth Sheridan explained in the Washington Post. Yes, "women" is her theme out of conviction, to be sure, but also because she's been locked out of everything else despite her puppyish fidelity to the president. He says, she says. On women, she says, he says.
My long deceased great-aunt would have had an apt comment for these efforts. "S'vet helf'n vie a toyten bankes." Which means: it'll help like hot suction cups will help a dead man.
PS: In the meantime, while the president and his secretary of state are worrying about women, there is one decision to be made at the White House that will affect the very lives and dignity of more than 14 million women. It is the decision over Afghanistan where we--that is, our soldiers and the soldiers of our NATO--have freed millions of Afghan women from a humiliating form of degradation and slavery. Their fates are also at stake in the issue of whether we stay and fight or not. But almost nobody has them in the equation.