“…new United States special envoy to Northern Ireland … would have been approved of by Margaret Thatcher…”

2007-01-24t014024z_01_nootr_rtridsp_2_oukwd-uk-irish-usa-dobriansky.jpgThis article by Susan McKay in today’s Irish News was sent out by the Pat Finucane Centre who responded by saying “so let’s treat her with the same contempt.” Paula Dobriansky is the new US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, replacing Mitchell Reiss. In the following article, McKay discusses the neo-conservative, anti-feminist Dobriansky as a woman that we should all NOT celebrate on International Women’s Day tomorrow.

Unsurprisingly (well, to me anyway), when we first learned of Dobriansky’s appointment to replace Reiss, there were many Irish Americans who lauded the change. As you’ll see below, Dobriansky believes that it is about time that we get rid of those silly little myths called social and economic rights. Ahem. I’d say the expression on her face in this picture here says a lot about how I feel about what to expect from her in the future.

It is International Women’s Day on Thursday and here’s something not to celebrate – the new United States special envoy to Northern Ireland is, well, a woman, but a woman who represents just about everything that feminists are up against.
Put it this way. Paula Dobriansky, who has taken over from Mitchell Reiss, is the sort of woman who would have been approved of by Margaret Thatcher. A neo-conservative of the scariest kind.

She is a favourite of President George Bush. He appointed her as undersecretary of state for domestic and global affairs at the state department in 2001. Her range of responsibilities include democracy, human rights and environmental issues. She has also served on the national security council.

A zealot for war, she is a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) which wrote to President Bill Clinton back in 1998, urging him to order a US invasion of Iraq. US policy was being “crippled” by the “misguided insistence” on unanimity on the UN security council, it said. It was impossible to find out if Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction but he was more than likely going to get them. He was in control of “a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil”. He must be removed.
She is a member of the advisory board of the right wing Independent Women’s Forum, founded by Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynn. The IWF has been described as the “antidote” to the feminist National Organisation of Women. It deplores the “nanny state” and sees childcare and elder care as matters primarily for the family. As in Ireland, traditional family values” are elevated, while feminism based on women’s rights is dismissed as selfish.

Examples from the animal world are cited – young male elephants run rampant if they don’t have male authority figures in their herds. Multi-culturalism and political correctness are deplored.

One of the IWF’s board argues in its most recent newsletter that “our tolerant ways” are seen as weakness by the growing western Muslim population. A ‘significant minority’ of this population is “filled with a violent religiously based obsession with destruction of the current global civilization.”

Dobriansky was, then, the ideal person to be sent, in 2004, to head the “Iraqi women’s democracy initiative”. She would equip Iraqi women with the means to “lobby for fair treatment” she claimed. As Iraqi novelist Haifa Zangana points out, after “liberation” Bush and Blair made much of the rights of women as a centrepiece of their vision for Iraq, bringing “handpicked” individuals to the White House where they “recited desperately needed homilies” to justify the invasion.

Meanwhile, Zangana, herself a former prisoner of the Saddam regime, says women are prisoners in their homes because of the horrendous violence. Acute malnutrition has doubled among children, there is 70% unemployment and poverty is driving women into prostitution, while backstreet abortion is rife and honour killing is increasing.
Never mind. According to a speaker at an IWF seminar, the US “can educate the Iraqi public about the democratic ideal of being an American, and living this wonderful life across the world.” Dobriansky has argued, by the way, that we need to eliminate the myth that there are such things as social and economic rights.

Dobriansky has been central to Bush’s irresponsible policies of climate change and global warming. The US is the world’s biggest carbon dioxide polluter and Kofi Annan spoke at the world summit on climate change last year about the “frightening lack of leadership” on the issue.

Dobriansky has staunchly defended the US’s refusal to ratify the Kyoto protocol, and has fought to block international agreements to cap carbon monoxide emissions. In 2005 she led the US’s resistance to imposing controls on illegal logging of forests, arguing that nothing should interfere with free trade.

When author Elizabeth Kolbert was researching her highly regarded book on global warming, “Field Notes from a Catastrophe”, Dobriansky granted her a 15 minute interview. She repeated endlessly the mantra, “we act, we learn, we act again” and insisted economic growth “is the solution, not the problem.”

So far, among the local politicians, only the Green Party has had the decency to express dismay that this paragon of all that is appalling about the Bush administration, has been sent among us.

Do the rest of the parties believe she will civilise us and instruct us on how to live this wonderful life? Or are they too busy girding their largely male loins for “a battle a day” to care? Happy International Women’s Day.


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