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A 'gender gap' in Obama administration’s approach to war?

Senior men in the Obama administration argued against a no-fly zone in Libya. But several prominent women, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice, pushed for military action.

By Staff writer / March 19, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses reporters during a press conference held at the US embassy in Paris Saturday March 19, following a crisis summit with world leaders regarding military action against Muammar Qaddafi's forces in Libya.

Remy de la Mauviniere/AP


Is it just me, or has anybody else noticed the gender difference in the Obama administration’s move toward war in Libya?

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With women in uniform fighting – and dying – in Iraq and Afghanistan, we’re long past the point where it’s extraordinary (although still argued about) to see women earning Purple Hearts and other combat decorations. They’ve been fighter pilots for years.

And there’s certainly a history of women leading their countries in wartime. Golda Meir. Indira Gandhi. Margaret Thatcher.

But as I read about the Obama administration’s evolution in support of military action against Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, I couldn’t help but notice an important distinction in the line up of senior officials.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, and White House chief of staff William Daley all argued against a no-fly zone in Libya.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said laying the groundwork for a no-fly zone would take “upwards of a week.” That was two days ago, and already the bombs from allied jets are falling on Libyan military targets. So are cruise missiles from US Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea.

But as Qaddafi’s army and air force kept pounding the rebels and the United Nations moved – faster than its typically glacial speed – to stop the Libyan dictator from killing more of his own people, it was senior women in the administration who pushed the process toward military intervention.

That included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and National Security Council senior aide Samantha Power, according a New York Times report.


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