Archive for the ‘Afghanistan’ Category

For my 19th birthday — declare #YesAllGirls

Today — my 19th birthday — I’m in Kenya visiting Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp.

Every year on my birthday I travel to meet girls who are struggling to go to school — to stand with them and to make sure the world hears their stories.

Today in Dadaab I met Rahma Hussein Noor, a 19 year-old who has struggled more than most of us can imagine just to go to school.

Rahma came to Dadaab at age 13, having never set foot in a classroom. She worked hard to catch up with her classmates and, in a few years, graduated primary school.

Rahma then enrolled in a secondary school in Dadaab. But when her family returned to Somalia last year, Rahma could not find another school to attend.

After two months, her father said her education was over and decided to marry her to a man over 50 years old whom Rahma had never met.

Rahma snuck out of her house and took an eight day bus ride back to the refugee camp…all to continue her education.

Rahma is not alone. Many girls from Syria, Burundi, Afghanistan, Pakistan and all around the world have lost so much and are then forced to fight for a right they already have — the right to go to school.

Last year, the world agreed to provide 12 years of education for every boy and girl. Yet, nearly one year after making the commitment, where do we stand?

We are facing a global refugee crisis and more and more girls like Rahma are at risk of losing their chance to go to school — and their dreams for a better future.

We cannot allow girls like Rahma to fight alone. It’s time to do right by girls — #YesAllGirls.

Today, on my 19th birthday, I’m asking you to stand with me and keep fightng for girls around the world who are denied an education. Will you make a gift today to ensure girls — #YesAllGirls — get the education we promised them?

Nothing would make me prouder on my birthday than knowing we are in this together.

Like this essay and respond to Malala here >>>>

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Since this blog is about homegirls (and boys) and security,  I think it is appropriate to share here a brilliant analysis  by Karen Finney at The Hill exposing costs of war that fall through the cracks in budget proposals.

This is the real cost, and it is incumbent upon all of us to consider deeply how secure continued operations and deployments keep us and whether current levels are worth these  costs .   Equally important is our encouragement to legislators to be certain these costs are covered in current and future budgets.  Not worth merely a read, worth sharing every way you know how.  Homegirl Karen hit a home run with this one!

By Karen Finney
– 03/19/12 06:14 PM ET

We may never know all of the factors that led an American soldier to allegedly murder 16 people in Afghanistan. The more we do learn, the more it seems there were signs of the toll that repeated deployments, an injury and the stress of his situation back home were taking. None of that excuses what the soldier reportedly did. However, given the number of Americans who have served or are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who could be facing similar stressors, we have a responsibility to better understand and factor in these human costs in any conversations about the way forward — particularly for the benefit of the 40 percent of U.S. citizens who still believe the war is worth the costs.

Read more >>>>

Edited to add:

This is  more than an op-ed in a column.  In a comment in the thread below I called it a treatise.  Karen Finney may well be the 21st century Thomas Paine for women and others.  Looking at this text again, I see it as the basis of a doctrine,  the Finney Budgetary Doctrine.  This is very important information that Karen has compiled, and the implications are enormous and look far down the road.   That is where we all should be looking.

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A rolling stone may gather no moss, but Rolling Stone magazine sure gathered its share of media attention today in the run-up to its release on the newsstands this coming Friday of an article about chief of Afghanistan Ops General Stanley McChrystal entitled The Runaway General.  You can read the advance net release at the link below and judge for yourself the degree to which McChrystal may or may not deserve to feel the tip of Obama’s Commander-in-Chief  boot.  There certainly seems to be a plethora of off-the-cuff remarks that appear as quotes from the general,  but there is a back story here as well that has less to do with him and more to do with the CIC and the one member of his cabinet and staff that not only did not receive criticism but rather won praise from McChrystal’s men.  If you have guessed by now that I refer to our esteemed Head Homegirl, Hillary Rodham Clinton, you would be correct. This excerpt tells the story succinctly enough.

Part of the problem is structural: The Defense Department budget exceeds $600 billion a year, while the State Department receives only $50 billion. But part of the problem is personal: In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama’s top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a “clown” who remains “stuck in 1985.” Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, “turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it’s not very helpful.” Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal’s inner circle. “Hillary had Stan’s back during the strategic review,” says an adviser. “She said, ‘If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.’ ”


Defense Secretary Robert Gates does not appear in an antagonistic role in the article as others do, but neither is he singled out for the praise the Secretary of State is accorded.  In all fairness, Secretary Gates has accompanied the SOS to The Hill to help argue against the budgetary imbalance referred to in that first sentence.  But it is the incomparable Hillary Rodham Clinton who floats off the pages not only unscathed, but applauded by McChrystal’s aides.

Now,  none of this  surprises the Homegirls and Homeboys at all since we well remember scenes like these in Afghanistan.

All of this comes accompanied by this, also tearing up the interwebs today.  Voters Say Hillary More Qualified To Be President Than Obama, Romney, Gingrich, Palin.  Amusingly, for me and my Homies, since she neither instigated nor encouraged any of this, she cannot be assigned any blame for it unless you care to blame her for doing her job diligently and efficiently and for being charming and attentive to the troops.  I would so have enjoyed being a fly on the wall in that cabinet meeting today, or perhaps in one of the other two meetings she attended at the White House today, since she is simply an innocent bystander who apparently is doing so much that is right.

She has the highest approval rating, and consistently has had, among the people in that room, and she is untouchable!  You see, we like her, we really, really do.  She is the one shining star there.  Hmmmmmm … is she likable enough for you now?  Full disclosure:  I always liked her.   This night, I fell head-over-heels in love, not for the first time,  (along with millions of others).

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Many readers here will recognize the Phoenix logo to the left from 2008 when it became a symbol within the PUMA movement  in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention.  The slogan was “Rise, Hillary, Rise” and referred to the hopes of the PUMAs that a fair and transparent roll call on the convention floor would permit Hillary to prevail as the nominee.   Things did not play out that way.  When Barack Obama became the nominee, and Hillary campaigned for the Democratic ticket (as she had always said she would), many of her supporters fell away, became embittered, some attacked Hillary, and this blog was born in her defense.

Now, in the run-up to President Obama’s (yes, folks, he is the President) speech on Afghanistan policy tomorrow night from West Point, this very interesting article pops up on a news feed, and I find it so very noteworthy for several reasons.  In  Can Hillary Clinton win the war in Afghanistan?, published by The Newark Examiner online, my new best friend  (and Homeboy) Kyle Sennett refutes several of the toxic memes that we Homegirls have been battling over the months of Hillary Clinton’s service as Secretary of State.

Perhaps the most persistent and  infuriating was the marginalization meme.  It also served as the umbrella for other spin-off memes.  You remember that one.  The story was that Hillary was being marginalized by the White House.  The spin-offs were that she was powerless,  was overshadowed by her special envoys (the ones she suggested to help her oversee critical regions),  that she was unhappy (because she was powerless),  that she was quitting State and running for Governor of New York, her old Senate seat, etc.  You can find them all in the archives here.

So now, at the zenith of speculation about what President Obama will lay out as an Afghanistan policy tomorrow night (or tonight, depending on when you read this) among the many predictions, some perhaps based on leaks, but nary a single word from Hillary who refused flat out to speak on the issue, Sennett posts his own reasoned argument regarding the issue and Secretary Clinton’s role in it.   In doing so, he carefully dismantles the toxic memes, argues as to how she has been a major player all along on the AF-Pak issues and policies,  and proposes that this is her vehicle.  That Obama is handing Af-Pak to her to manuveur.

I will not presume to answer the question in his title.  If she can,  this would be a first in the history of the region which time and again has resisted foreign intervention.  But there is no question that as Sennett states:

Secretary Clinton is at the forefront of the effort, and all signs point to the idea that she, and the Obama administration, are approaching it with an open mind.

Sennett provides an excellent review of events leading up to the formation of this policy and of Secretary Clinton’s involvement. You can, and should,   read his whole article here.

You didn’t think for a minute that I would post this without a picture of the Head Homegirl, now, did you?


Oh!  And in case Kyle and I have not made it perfectly clear:  Hillary was never down.  She has always been, and continues to be, rising, and rising, and rising.

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As students, my friends and I used to joke about an old line that I always thought came from a movie. To lure a woman up to a bachelor’s apartment after a date, a playboy would ask, “Do you want to come up and see my etchings?” With Wedgewood and Waterford on the verge of bankruptcy, it is doubtful that most Americans worry much about etched glass except for the coffee pot that gets clouded after too many dishwasher cycles.

Etching, the effect of acid on glass or metal, is an artful, precious medium and becoming rarer as time goes on. When you think about how hard glass or metal is, and see the effect of the acid, then it is very painful to imagine the effect of acid on human (or animal) skin and bone. Someone in my town poured acid on a beagle puppy last year and caused an outrage. The puppy was saved (by my vet).

Even more disturbing, then, is this story from Bangladesh about acid attacks on women and girls. I have written here before about this. I will continue to post about this issue until communities address this issue in an effective way. This would include international organizations, and domestic groups interested in human rights and dedicated to eradicating cruelty and violence. I almost added “against women and girls” and am holding back on that. Hillary Clinton said,” …human rights are women’s rights – and women’s rights are human rights.” Acid attacks are violations of human rights – period.

BANGLADESH: Acid attacks continue despite new laws

Photo: Contributor/IRIN
Workers at the Acid Survivors Foundation express their solidarity with acid victims to raise social awareness against the practice

DHAKA, 5 January 2009 (IRIN) – Acid attacks against women and girls are continuing despite legal campaigns to halt their spread.

Over 2,600 cases have been reported since 1999, according to the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) of Bangladesh. Almost all the attacks have been on women or girls. Many of the victims are under 18, says ASF, which has been working to eliminate acid violence for almost a decade.

The main reason for the violence is dowries, refusal of love proposals, or land disputes, ASF said. Bent on revenge, perpetrators throw acid into their victims’ faces in an effort to severely disfigure them, often with horrifying results.

Nitric or sulphuric acid has a catastrophic effect on human flesh, ASF said, resulting in skin tissue melting, often exposing the bones below the flesh, and even dissolving bone.

Scarred for life and badly burned, many survivors also lose their sight in one or both eyes. Others are so psychologically traumatised they never recover.

Read the rest of the story here.

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This article popped up on Digg today:

Saudi court tells girl aged EIGHT she cannot divorce husband who is 50 years her senior

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 9:49 AM on 22nd December 2008

A Saudi court has rejected a plea to divorce an eight-year-old girl married off by her father to a man who is 58, saying the case should wait until the girl reaches puberty.

The divorce plea was filed in August by the girl’s divorced mother with a court at Unayzah, 135 miles north of Riyadh just after the marriage contract was signed by the father and the groom.

Read more….

This story has a familiar ring to it.    In early November, both Condoleeza Rice and our Homegirl, Hillary Clinton, were honored as two of Glamour Magazine’s Women-of-the-Year.    That same evening,  Nujood Mohammed Ali and Shada Nasser were also honored.  Glamour has awarded a Women-of-the-Year Fund to assist the work Nasser is doing in Yemen to help child brides.  Click on the link.  Homegirls can help!

Remarks were made during the Primary season that Hillary’s visits to over 80 countries were ceremonial.  The truth is that she visited refugee camps and sat in tents listening (and I think we have learned how very well she does that) to stories of displaced persons and mistreated women and girls. (See December3 post: Hillary in Her Own Words).  Condi Rice has done the same as related in the Glamour article linked above.  So I think the torch that is being passed at the State Department is  significant for girls and women in threatened regions as well as in friendly ones.

Ann Curry had an update tonight on the schoolgirls attacked with acid in Kandahar, but I could not find a link at MSNBC.  I did however find this story about them at AlJazeera. It is not an update, but tells the story.

We all know these are stories and situations both Secretary Rice and her successor care about.  We also know we cannot change laws in far away cultures.  But those of us who remember Hillary’s Beijing speech know we have a strong advocate for women and children ready to represent us and be our face and voice to the world.

Hillary, your Homegirls are behind you as you take this next big step.  God bless you and keep you safe.

Afterthought:  (And I don’t mean to be sexist myself here).  I wonder how things would have been if Colin Powell had never been in the picture.  What if State had passed directly from Madeleine to Condi to Hill?  Sounds like an awesome triple-play to me.

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