The Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Institute has just issued an excellent report (PDF here) calling for a “responsible” withdrawal of US troops from Iraq that is “quick, careful, and generous.” Also, I believe, total– though I’m not seeing this spelled out in my quick reading of the Executive Summary.
It looks like an excellent initiative, and they already have two members of the US Congress signed up in support of it.
I’ll look in more detail at the report’s contents later. But I just want to make a personal comment here.
I have been working steadily and publicly for the past three years to sketch out and promote the idea of a US troop withdrawal from Iraq that is speedy, total, orderly, and generous. (Wording sound familiar here?) And I know that many of the people associated with this project read my work fairly regularly. Some of them I know personally. So I am really disappointed that none of them ever contacted me to ask me to work with them on this in any capacity, and they never even cited any of my numerous writings on the subject as far as I can see.
They have an advisory group of 14 people, listed on p.30 of the PDF document there. All of them (except one, see below) are male. Surprise, surprise. One of the four members of the “Organizing Committee” listed there is female. I don’t know her.
Why is this yet another, so egregious instance of the ambitious professional male elevator at work? I have worked professionally on Middle East and strategic issues for 34 years. What does it take for a woman to get some acknowledgment and respect in this field? A sex-change operation?
Honestly, I don’t think most of the “left” (which is what most of these people are) is any better on gender-inclusion issues than the right. It sometimes feels fairly depressing.
But I soldier on.
- Update Thurs. morning:
I’m informed that Nadje al-Ali of London’s SOAS, who’s listed as a advisory group member, is female. I’m sorry not to have known or noted that. So we have one out of 14.
One member of the advisory group told me he had simply answered a call from Chris Toensing to participate, and agreed to do so. But why did no-one on any of these groups (organizing or advisory) ever think of drawing on the considerable amount of thinking and writing I have done on precisely this “How to get out of Iraq” issue over the past years? I note that the Commonwealth Institute is headquartered in the Boston area, where certainly my writings on this topic in the CSM and Boston Review would have had wide circulation.
I still believe the “ambitious male professional elevator” I mentioned above is a real factor– and the picture of who was in the two groups bears out this assessment.
Like many of my female friends, I have seen this elevator at work in many, many different contexts, and I might describe them here in some future posts. But so many men still aren’t even aware it exists; aren’t aware there’s a gender-exclusion problem; and are mystified (or worse, defensive and upset) when people tell them there is.