During World War I, Alice Paul and her sister suffragists called out the hypocrisy of President Wilson and the US government in denying the rights of women at home while claiming to be fighting a war for freedom and democracy abroad.
So little has changed. President Biden is beating the drums of war, proposes an unprecedented $770 billion dollar military budget, and risks nuclear confrontation between the great powers, all in the name of “freedom” and “democracy.” Meanwhile, women in the U.S., who make up a majority of the poor, are denied housing, health care, equal pay, and accessible, affordable childcare. Even the pandemic-related child tax credit program that provided government relief to low-income families has been allowed to expire. We are poised to lose Roe vs. Wade, which will have a devastating effect on women’s freedoms with little action from the White House.
Biden has also failed to take the simple step of instructing the archivist to publish the Equal Rights Amendment already approved by the requisite 38 States, which would put women’s sex-based protections into the Constitution. His administration is thus undemocratically depriving us of a crucial tool to challenge our continued second-class status as a sex.
Those who are familiar with the history of U.S. wars abroad over the past century, have long known that U.S. foreign policy has everything to do with oil and empire and not a scintilla to do with democracy. Our military-industrial complex is a destructive money-making machine; it is the epitome of patriarchy in action, fighting to maintain status as the biggest bully on the block with no regard for human beings or their rights. Our government has repeatedly spearheaded the overthrow of democratically elected governments from Chile to Guatemala to Iran, rained untold destruction on Vietnam to prevent the people there from determining their own future, and currently counts as its closest allies (and arms to the teeth) the military dictatorship of Egypt, the religious fundamentalist sexual apartheid Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the ethnic apartheid regime of Israel. The decades-long occupation of Afghanistan not only failed to liberate the women there from the Taliban, but instead murdered 71,000 civilians, mostly women and children, and after the U.S. finally withdrew its troops, the imposition of murderous sanctions is now threatening the civilian population with mass starvation.
We must call out this hypocrisy today loudly and clearly, just as Alice Paul did more than a century ago. Fortunately, women around the globe are recognizing that war is not in our interests. Medea Benjamin of the women-led organization Code Pink, long a voice of the U.S. peace movement, has been speaking out against the threat of war with Russia over Ukraine, as well as demanding diplomacy and an end to NATO expansion.
On February 15th a group of women from the United States and Russia released a joint statement, “Independent American and Russian Women Call For Peace” raising their voices against militarism and war and calling for diplomacy and peace. They wrote:
“We are women from the United States and Russia who are deeply concerned about the risk of possible war between our two countries, who together possess over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. We are mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and we are sisters, one to another. Today we stand with our sisters in Ukraine, East and West, whose families and country have been torn apart, have already suffered more than 14,000 deaths…For the U.S. and Russia, the only sane and humane course of action now is a principled commitment to clear, creative and persistent diplomacy – not military action…We stand together and we call for peace. Stand with us.”
Thank you, sisters!