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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.

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“The three women were pushing for American intervention to stop a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Libya,” according to the newspaper.

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In op-ed columns in the nation’s leading newspaper, this gender gap was apparent too.

In the Washington Post, retired US Army Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO's former supreme allied commander in Europe, argued against US intervention in Libya.

“To me, it seems we have no clear basis for action,” he wrote. “Whatever resources we dedicate for a no-fly zone would probably be too little, too late. We would once again be committing our military to force regime change in a Muslim land, even though we can't quite bring ourselves to say it. So let's recognize that the basic requirements for successful intervention simply don't exist, at least not yet: We don't have a clearly stated objective, legal authority, committed international support or adequate on-the-scene military capabilities, and Libya's politics hardly foreshadow a clear outcome.”

“We should have learned these lessons from our long history of intervention,” Gen. Clark concluded. “We don't need Libya to offer us a refresher course in past mistakes.”

Over in the New York Times two days later, Anne-Marie Slaughter, former State Department policy planning director under Sec. Clinton, took on Clark’s argument.

“Now we have a chance to support a real new beginning in the Muslim world – a new beginning of accountable governments that can provide services and opportunities for their citizens in ways that could dramatically decrease support for terrorist groups and violent extremism,” she wrote. “It’s hard to imagine something more in our strategic interest.”

“Any use of force must be carefully and fully debated, but that debate has now been had,” wrote Dr. Slaughter, now a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University. “It’s been raging for a week, during which almost every Arab country has come on board calling for a no-flight zone and Colonel Qaddafi continues to gain ground. It is time to act.”

One can make too much of any “gender gap” in military affairs in the Obama administration. But it’s worth noting.


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