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The Axis of Medieval.
August 16, 2002 12:21 PM   Subscribe

The Axis of Medieval. Claims of support for women and women's rights in the current regime are nothing more than hot air according to Mr. Kristof. He says their record and the facts tell a different story. The details are shocking. Kowtowing to religious fundamentalists in the US causes devastating results abroad. Would programs like these qualify for using some of the wealthiest persons dollars instead of a tax cut?
posted by nofundy (46 comments total)

 
disgusting.
posted by AlexSteffen at 12:27 PM on August 16, 2002


Would programs like these qualify for using some of the wealthiest persons dollars instead of a tax cut?

No. You are free to send your money however.
posted by thirteen at 12:30 PM on August 16, 2002


Repressed Republicans thinking that something gynecological has to do with the "dirty deed of doin' it?" Shocker. We have Karl Rove to thank for this one. This man probably can't say the word "vagina" without snickering and getting all sweaty.
posted by alou73 at 12:34 PM on August 16, 2002


Well duh, these women don't live on oil. Why the fuck would we help them?

But we liberated all the Afghani women, and we're hoping to free all the poor Iraqi women suffering under Big Bad Saddam's regime. Hmmm, I think I hear some Saudi women being beaten by those damned Princes of Saud right now, we'd better look into that!

Women's rights are definitely high on Bush's agenda.

Yes, it IS painful to even write that, but it's true...
posted by zekinskia at 12:48 PM on August 16, 2002


But only Washington could come up with a solution to Chinese problems that involves killing teenage girls in Burundi.

Kristoff is trolling.

If I'm angry, it's because those figures conjure real faces of people I've met: Aisha Idris, a Sudanese peasant left incontinent after giving birth at 14, with no midwife or prenatal care, to a stillborn child; Mariam Karega, a young woman nursing her dying baby in a Tanzanian village far from any doctor; Sriy, a smart and vibrant 13-year-old Cambodian girl who was sold into prostitution by her stepfather and by now is probably dead of AIDS.

Yes yes, those are all sad things. But did America or the Bush administration cause them? No. Basically Kristoff is accusing the administration of outright murder for withholding money. Bullshit. If you want to take care of these people, support charities that work in those regions and support the reform of those governments (like in the Sudan)
posted by insomnyuk at 12:48 PM on August 16, 2002


If you want to take care of these people, support charities that work in those regions and support the reform of those governments (like in the Sudan)

But is the Bush administration doing that?
posted by blucevalo at 12:55 PM on August 16, 2002


He meant to support those charities and reform movements personally. With your own wallet-based dollars. Like a lot of us do. Government will never spend tax money properly - in some people's opinion. If you want change, best to support those causes you prefer directly.
posted by UncleFes at 12:58 PM on August 16, 2002


Bush doesn't care about all those people over there. Only American (Right-wing Christian) interests matter.

Who's the real evil-doer?
posted by quirked at 1:01 PM on August 16, 2002


insomnyuk,

I tend to agree with you. My first thought was: why would any of this be the fed's responsibility? It's not like GWB sneaked out of the White House to impregnate these women, right? Perhaps, as the world's richest nation, we should support these worthy charities, but as individuals.

After an issue of Time dealing with the African AIDS crisis, several letters to the editor poured in, criticizing the US for "not doing more." Yes it's a horrendous tragedy, and yes, we should be helping, since we are in a position to do so. But we aren't spreading the disease (so far as I know) and shouldn't be villianized for its spread.

I have known people who loudly criticize the US government for not supporting some cause or charity somewhere, who aren't willing to contribute a penny of their own money.
posted by drstrangelove at 1:08 PM on August 16, 2002


drstrangelove,

that's because, as metafilter for one proves over and over again, it's only pure-hearted libertarians who actually give money. Lots of it. In fact, you'll notice that there are so many donations that most of these problems just eventually go away! Or, they would, except for the strongarm tactics of our Internal Revenue Service, which snaps up a lot of the money that was going to head to your favorite charity.

Big-government liberal commie people, by contrast, hoard and hoard their own money to pay for the limosines they typically drive, hypocritically mouthing off about "the needs of the many" while running down homeless people on the sidewalks for sport.

Oh, but wait, you already said that. Sorry.
posted by hackly_fracture at 1:18 PM on August 16, 2002


Guess what? The US spends a LOT of money on US AID: almost 8 billion dollars for these programs alone. And among this money, it makes sense to track what an administration funds and what it kills.

"For Fiscal Year 2002, the President is requesting appropriations of $7,716,500,000 in discretionary funds for USAID-administered programs, including those jointly administered with the State Department. This compares to the FY 2001 level of $7,587,278,000 when $223.825 million in supplemental funding is excluded." -- US AID 2002 Budget Request Summary.

"Free and fair trade, addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and building regional stability are at the core of U.S. national interests in Africa. The economic prosperity and national security of the United States are enhanced, and American values concerning afflicted peoples are confirmed, by promoting broad-based economic and social development in Africa." --US AID 2002 Budget Justification, Africa Overview
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:22 PM on August 16, 2002


Bullshit. If you want to take care of these people, support charities that work in those regions and support the reform of those governments (like in the Sudan)

Bullshit. When can we expect American war-mongers to therefore pull out their ownest-own wallets and pay personally for the bombs dropping on Afghanistan and/or Iraq?

If you want change, best to support those causes you prefer directly.

Did I miss the damned news conference where Bush told America that, yes, Saddam Hussein is a real meanie, but it's not the government's job to take care of Iraquis or Israelis, so would you each mind sending them a few dollars so they can buy bombs to destroy their own infrastructure?

Oh, I get it. We should all pay collectively to cluster-bomb people. But actually helping people must be done individually, through charity.
Such consistency.

Yeah, I get it. Not much profit in feeding people when you could be developing bombs and surveillance systems with the same money.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:27 PM on August 16, 2002


"Oh, I get it. We should all pay collectively to cluster-bomb people. But actually helping people must be done individually, through charity.
Such consistency."


Oh, shit. f&m is making sense to me.

I'm going to go drink myself into a stupor and forget this thread ever happened.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:31 PM on August 16, 2002


Bullshit. When can we expect American war-mongers to therefore pull out their ownest-own wallets and pay personally for the bombs dropping on Afghanistan and/or Iraq?

Fine with me, I have a problem with paying taxes for war-mongering too. This isn't an if/then/else question, fm, why don't you take your strawman elsewhere.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:35 PM on August 16, 2002


Oh, I get it. We should all pay collectively to cluster-bomb people. But actually helping people must be done individually, through charity.
Such consistency.

That is glib and all, but what do you say to those who do not support doing either?
posted by thirteen at 1:36 PM on August 16, 2002


i'm there with you, crash.


ninja hordes! attack!
posted by tolkhan at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2002


F&M,

That's a good point...perhaps Big Oil should pay for the wanton bombings (soon to happen) in Iraq... that's actually a good concept!

It has been said that war usually results in the poor and powerless being killed, and the rich getting richer. Maybe a war paid and fought by the very a$$holes that will benefit might be a good idea...
posted by drstrangelove at 1:38 PM on August 16, 2002


Yeah, I get it. Not much profit in feeding people when you could be developing bombs and surveillance systems with the same money.

::looks around, steps gingerly over steaming piles of trollbait, leaves for dinner - sorry, for bomb development meeting, as there is more profit in it (wink)
posted by UncleFes at 1:38 PM on August 16, 2002


UncleFes: I believe the proper phrasing is ~wink~
posted by insomnyuk at 1:42 PM on August 16, 2002


United Nations Population Fund cost - $34 Million.
Afghan war cost - Billions (with a 'B')

No Dubya did not personally cause those problems, but he sure as hell has chosen NOT to help. That is a disgrace in my book.
posted by quirked at 1:51 PM on August 16, 2002


Axis of Medieval? Will Bush be leading the troops into Israel on horseback in order to free the Holy Land from those pesky Moors? Will the WTC be replaced by a large stone tower with a moat and defensive wall?

I also don't remember reading anything in medieval penitentials about female genital mutilation.

I don't see the medieval here.
posted by ahughey at 1:54 PM on August 16, 2002


would you each mind sending them a few dollars so they can buy bombs to destroy their own infrastructure?

Well, it worked for the IRA right through the 80s. Though that was in an age where Boston bars collecting for terrorists was considered acceptable, and Saddam Hussein was the West's last hope against Iran.

Anyone know whether Dubya cut funding for right-wing-godbotherer approved 'abstinence' education?
posted by riviera at 1:59 PM on August 16, 2002


Bush probably needed to cut the $34 million dollars for this effective program so that he could pay for the $33 million dollar increase (total $135M) in absintence-only education which has been shown not to work.
posted by alms at 2:24 PM on August 16, 2002


the $33 million dollar increase (total $135M) in absintence-only education
If only I had scissors and access to the budget!
posted by thirteen at 2:31 PM on August 16, 2002


Well, I do have scissors, but you know what I mean.
posted by thirteen at 2:31 PM on August 16, 2002


we liberated all the Afghani women, and we're hoping to free all the poor Iraqi women suffering under Big Bad Saddam's regime. Hmmm, I think I hear some Saudi women being beaten by those damned Princes of Saud right now, we'd better look into that!

Women's rights are definitely high on Bush's agenda.


There's a difference between causing something to happen incidentally and its being high on your agenda. When strict marijuana prohibition causes cocaine use to rise, it doesn't mean that cocaine use is high on Bush's agenda...

Hmmmm.
posted by ramakrishna at 2:34 PM on August 16, 2002


Why is it that we never allow others to decide on their own reproductive health? We bring our own country's inability to reach a consensus on this issue and let it become another time the US forces issues for other countries.
posted by tio2d at 3:11 PM on August 16, 2002




among other problems I mean "US backed civil war" not "us backed...."
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:26 PM on August 16, 2002


I think the point is that these countries don't have any money to help these women, and if they did, it surely wouldn't go to helping women deliver healthy babies. It would probably go to war. Frankly, women come..ohhh...about LAST in order of importance in poor countries run by men (are any countries run by women?) Men just don't care about women or their health that much when there isn't a lot of money lying around. (And frankly, the USA has tons of money yet women still aren't that important to Bush.)

Put it this way: If it were men getting castrated as often as women's genitalia are mutilated, or if men dying as often from something that could be prevented as often as women die from childbirth, or if men were sold into sexual slavery only to die from aids as often as women are, you better damn well believe that governments (the USA and others) would pay a lot more attention.

Women have always been seen as by men as more expendable than men. They don't fight wars, they don't have as much power in politics or government or religion, so they influence is almost nil in most 3rd world countries.
The point is, we are strong and powerful and rich enough to do something major to help, but the Bush administration is so short-sighted and against giving money to anything that might appear to have to do with sex education, that they are again showing how little they care about the little guy...in this case, women with no power, no money, and no rights, in poor countries.
posted by aacheson at 3:37 PM on August 16, 2002


cripes: and everything came through bold. Damn my HTML!
*rolls eyes and hits source button*
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:42 PM on August 16, 2002


Just to really put the amount of money into scale: in 2000, the military's budget was 280 billion dollars. And they apparently just "lose" several billion every year. Foreign aid had a budget of about 13 billion dollars. That's 50% of total government spending compared to .5%. We spend hardly anything on foreign aid, unless it affects our business interests, like elwoodwiles says.
posted by emyd at 4:31 PM on August 16, 2002


Personally I'm okay with spending federal funds on charity and improving the life of people that aren't lucky enough to be born inside our territory lines. (And what aachenson said.) And I do spend a good chunk on this annually out of my own pocket as well.

But let's ignore money for a minute.

Kristof lists a few purely political moves that Bush has made that have negative fallout for women. Specifically, does anyone know more about the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women that Bush is supposedly trying to block? I looked at the UN website, and it says though the US signed in 1980, we never ratified/acceded, and therefore are not bound to implement the convention. So is Bush trying to unsign? Or just continuing to not follow through like every other admin since 1980?
posted by synapse at 4:36 PM on August 16, 2002


the chinese policy on childbirth is evil,

leaving children to die in rooms is plain evil,

although it was not alluded to by the writer,

who spent about 10 words on the chinese policy while

devoting hundreds to attacking bushes,

oh , they referred to it as "sometimes brutal"

so obviously it must be quite nice sometimes ?

-so thats alright then , lets send them a few dollars to help them along eh?

the idea that there are somehow too many people on this planet and we should limit their numbers is wrong.

it ignores the issue of the uneven distribution of wealth on the planet.

in fact , the practice of population control perpetuates the ineqaulities that exist between peoples.

and it takes place for no other reason than people cant be bothered sending money to the third world.

or treating them fairly and decently.

i hated the way this article skimmed over the facts on china and just went straight for manipulating peoples emotions....

and as i can see , it's been pretty successful.

im thinking of getting my neighbours baby and leaving her

on a nearby hillside to die of exposure ,

would any of you like to send me the cab fare?
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:31 PM on August 16, 2002


it doesn't mean that cocaine use is high on Bush's agenda...

Indeed, you have to put those words in a different order for them to be true.
posted by kindall at 5:33 PM on August 16, 2002


You can read all about CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Descrimination Against Women) at the Treaty for the Rights of Women web site. There's an interesting article on how the treaty has had an impact in San Francisco at Women's News. From everything I've read, it's really hard to understand why anyone would be against this unless they are truly in favor of gender discrimination ala Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan.
posted by alms at 5:50 PM on August 16, 2002


Women have always been seen as by men as more expendable than men.

That isn't true. Ever hear the expression "women and children first"? (as in first to escape a sinking ship, etc.) Men have usually considered women less expendable, because you need women to produce more little men. If you have ten women and one man in a room, you can produce ten kids in nine months. Add more women, you add more kids; add more men, you add no kids.

None of this is to say men treated women well in such situations. This sort of thing has been a rationale for institutions like purdah: do not allow a woman to leave a locked compound, for her own safety (and that of her children), no matter what she might think of the idea. Pre-feminist men often valued women very highly -- but as a means, not as an end. Valuable, and hence non-expendable, property.
posted by ramakrishna at 9:53 PM on August 16, 2002


alms - thanks!
posted by synapse at 6:47 AM on August 17, 2002


First off, what ramakrishna said. It is very much the exception for men to be valued more than women. That's part of why men fight the wars. You can repopulate a country a hell of a lot faster after losing 2/3 of the men than after losing 2/3 of the women.

Second, sincere or not, fold_and _mutilate's comments are fucking retarded. Warfighting is one of the few responsibilities explicitly assigned to the federal government by the Constitution. Collecting federal taxes to pay for those activities is entirely proper.

Paying for birth control and mid-wife training in Burundi is not a duty assigned to the federal government by the constitution. Shocker, eh? Does that mean that the feds should never do it? No, it means that there's no duty or automatic justification for doing it. A convincing case must be made that those things support the other explicitly assigned responsibilities of the federal government.

Kristof's other two examples are fighting slavery and fighting despotic forms of government. Slavery became the feds responsibility when America developed the consensus that no American could be righteously relegated to slave status, ie. when thinking evolved to see those impacted as Americans, the very people the Feds are supposed to defend. The other example is despotic governments, and those were not the focus of Federal attention until they demonstrated a direct threat to the American interests the federal government is constitutionally charged with protecting. Getting the reproductive health of Burundi teens to equal the level of relevance of these events to the American interests the feds are charged with protecting is a very tall order. In my thinking, the circumstances most likely to approach anything like this first are the potential for hideous societal destabilization in Africa from the wholesale AIDS deaths of most productive ages of peoples, and what might start to look like entertainable ideas to the control-minded Chinese government once it sinks in that they have millions of surplus expendable men that will never settle down and marry.

In short, there's no slam dunk case yet for a mandate upon the US federal government to shoulder these responsibilities, and fold_and_mutilate's brand of bullshit does nothing to build the case that there is. Show a compelling connection to an explicitly established duty of the US federal government if you want to affect a meaningful change in priorities. Everything else is talking to hear yourself.

But I only spent two solid years working with USAID's finances during the Clinton administration, so what do I know?
posted by NortonDC at 11:28 AM on August 17, 2002


ramakrishna,
That is a damn good point. I'd not thought about it that way. I guess I got my feelings from the way women have always been treated in especially poor countries...as pieces of meat, as property, as second class citizens or not citizens at all. In that way, men haven't given a shit about women. But as procreators, women are important, you're right. I find it very depressing that in many places, we are valued only for our ability to produce more people to oppress us. Not for any other value we could bring to the table.

NortonDC, no, there is nothing in the constitution that says we have to give money to help these causes. However, there's also nothing in the constitution that says we have to give money and arms support to all the other countries we do, however, you don't hear people screaming as often to end foreign aid for political and implements of war! There's a lot of things that aren't specified in the constitution that the US has adopted as its M.O. So why isn't spending a little cash to better the oppressed women in backwards countries considered worthy? Why is that such a political no-no but supplying other countries with F14's is right-oh-okay.
posted by aacheson at 12:27 PM on August 17, 2002


So why isn't spending a little cash to better the oppressed women in backwards countries considered worthy?

Because a convincing case yet to be made to our elected leaders that that "little" cash serves to advance those federal responsibilities that are explicitly laid out in the constitution, which was pretty much the whole point that part of my post.

And who do you think we give planes to? The feds allowed private companies to sell F-16s to Israel, with tacked on federal demands that they could only be used in defensive situations.

And I have heard plenty of screaming to end US support of Israel. You haven't?
posted by NortonDC at 12:47 PM on August 17, 2002


I'm NOT just talking about Israel. Christ, we give money to just about every country in the world-whether or not they deserve it. And the countries aren't necessarily BUYING anything. We're just handing out money. Christ, we even give money to Syria, Iran, and other fine nations for weapons and military support. And THAT surely isn't "explicitly laid out in the constitution" either. You appear to feel that kind of money is okay to give, but not money for women's services.
We disagree. I'm shocked.
posted by aacheson at 4:35 PM on August 17, 2002


I haven't said anything about my feelings on the moral righteousness or lack thereof of giving out any aid. What I have done is to explain to you how the decisions to do it or not do it are made. You've ignored an inconvenient point clearly told, twice. Forgive me for not feigning shock.

Here, I'll give you a third chance: the giving of any federal aid happens in the context of believing that doing so makes meeting constitutionally assigned responsibilities easier or more likely.
Show a compelling connection to an explicitly established duty of the US federal government if you want to affect a meaningful change in priorities. Everything else is talking to hear yourself.
posted by NortonDC at 6:24 PM on August 17, 2002


Get off your high horse, NortonDC. Condescension doesn't become you.

I'm not disagreeing that it's not an "explicitly established duty of the US federal government." I'm saying that there are lots of things the federal government does currently that also are not an"explicitly established duty of the federal government," but they aren't being stopped by the current administration, an inconvenient point clearly told, twice.
posted by aacheson at 10:48 AM on August 18, 2002


Three times you've ignored what I've laid out about about the context of the thinking that (currently) allows one and not the other. Show any sign of addressing what I said (not agreeing with it, just dealing with it) and then further discussion may be warranted. Until then, do not expect to receive more of my attention in this exchange.
posted by NortonDC at 11:34 PM on August 18, 2002


Three times you've ignored what I've said. In my opinion, I have been discussing your post with you but since it's not what you want to hear, I guess it's not sufficent for you to expend any more of your precious attention.

It's fine with me if we end this discussion. But then again, since you're not paying attention anymore, you probably won't read this.....
posted by aacheson at 6:54 AM on August 19, 2002


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