Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes is not having the easiest time these last few days trying to convince women that the American way is super-duper.
Yesterday at a Saudi university Hughes got her ass handed to her by a room full of women:
…When Ms. Hughes expressed the hope here that Saudi women would be able to drive and “fully participate in society” much as they do in her country, many challenged her.
“The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn’t happy,” one audience member said. “Well, we’re all pretty happy.” The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause.
The administration’s efforts to publicize American ideals in the Muslim world have often run into such resistance.
…Many in this region say they resent the American assumption that, given the chance, everyone would live like Americans.
Then today, a group of Turkish women confronted Hughes about the invasion of Iraq:
“This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero,” said Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, an activist with the Capital City Women’s Forum. She said it was difficult to talk about cooperation between women in the United States and Turkey as long as Iraq was under occupation.
…”War makes the rights of women completely erased and poverty comes after war — and women pay the price,” said Fatma Nevin Vargun, a Kurdish women’s rights activist.
…Hughes, looking increasingly pained, defended the decision to invade Iraq as a difficult and wrenching moment for President Bush, but necessary to protect America.
“You’re concerned about war, and no one likes war,” she said. But, she said, “to preserve the peace sometimes my country believes war is necessary.” She also asserted that women are faring much better in Iraq than under the rule of deposed president Saddam Hussein.
“War is not necessary for peace,” shot back Feray Salman, a human rights advocate. She said countries should not try to impose democracy through war, adding that “we can never, ever export democracy and freedom from one country to another.”
Love it. There’s just this insane arrogance that goes along with the idea that American women know what’s best for women around the world. Whatever happened to letting women tell their own stories and speak for themselves?