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Iraq Debate Continues With Few Female Voices

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Call me crazy but it still gets my goat that the entire Iraq debate takes place without the input of the female majority. The Sunday TV talk shows are wall-to-wall male. Tim Russert seems his most relaxed, when -- as again on March 18th -- he's surrounded by white men. Russert's not the only one, on the day before the anniversary of the invasion, three out of five Sunday TV news shows featured no women at all. The sole female on ABC was Senator Diane Feinstein. Fox News Sunday included one woman on their panel of five and she was representing Barack Obama.

Simple sexism would be infuriating enough but leaving women out of this debate is also stupid. In what areas have have the good old boys most spectacularly failed? First in the launching of Bush's criminal war (women, when polled, were smarter, disproportionately opposing the idea.) After the disaster of the invasion came the debacle of the reconstruction. I don't believe women are biologically determined to have more expertise in the winning of hearts-and-minds, but barred historically from the highest ranks of the killing and slaughtering professions, women have risen to the top in relief and development and before the invasion, just about all the most experienced people in that arena were accurately anticipating what a mess would follow Rummie's rush into Baghdad.

Just what it is about being correct (as opposed to Right) that bars you from being invited to the table?

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and erstwhile United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was right about Bush's "war on terror." I believe it was she who first pointed out that you can't wage a war on a tactic, and besides, the attacks of 9-11 were criminal acts not acts of war. (And acts, of course, that Iraq had nothing to do with.) Retired Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatowski, tried to blow the whistle on Rummie/Feith's failure to prepare for post-Saddam when she was still working as a near-east expert in the Defense Department. Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) is the one person who voted against Bush on the invasion of Afghanistan. She could see what was coming when the Congress still had time not to abdicate their war-powers authority. Sgt. Kelly Dougherty went to Iraq in 2003 and came back and co-founded Iraq Veterans Against the War at age 27, determined to sound the alarm about the troops' lack of armor and the racist attitudes driving much of the occupation. Any one of those women would be a fantastic guest. Why not book the bunch?

From Iraq, women like Yanar Mohammed of the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq screamed to high heaven about the dangers of collaborating with warlords (described in this country as clerics who happened to have militias.) American viceroys, eager to get the oil-profits flowing, were trading human rights, especially women's rights, for a phoney promise of security, said Mohammed. But you can't have national security without women's security said countless women's leaders -- leaders whom the media studiously ignored.

On RadioNation this week, we spoke with Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena who witnessed the occupation from far-too close up when she was taken hostage, released and then shot by US forces. Sgrena has "expertise" I wouldn't wish on anyone. The least she deserves is a place in the discussion. Gold Star mom, Cindy Sheehan has a phD in grief and drive. Have the television bookers forgotten that we have a peace movement in this country -- one that just elected a Democratic majority -- thanks to women including Sheehan, and Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, and Leslie Cagan, co-chair of United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of some 1300 national and local groups, backed up by tireless rabblerousers like Sunsara Taylor of the World Can't Wait who spent March 17th in freezing rain and snow outside the Pentagon?

I MISS MOLLY IVINS. But heck, I was missing Molly on tv for years before the cancer got her. I'm truly tired of making this argument, so I'll stop. But maybe you'll pick up the baton and (gently) bludgeon someone with it.

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