On Tues. Aug. 31, after more than seven years of war, President Obama officially ended the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. It's something to celebrate, the end of a war, except for the 4,746 deceased American combatants for whom this decision has come too late.
So how do we learn from this experience of the wasted and lost lives of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, in a war where questions still remain as to why it was ever launched in the first place? Simple. Ask a woman.
And who better to ask than the women who bear witness to more wars than any other ... female journalists. Christiane Amanpour, the former chief international correspondent at CNN, covered everything from the Persian Gulf War, to the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, to the war in Kosovo (where she was threatened with death). Once she became a mother, she could no longer justify putting herself in life-threatening situations. Motherhood clearly made Amanpour more conscious of the risks of her job, and the value of her life and that of her child. "If you have a child," Amanpour said, "you have a responsibility at least to stay alive."
But women's utmost appreciation for the sustenance of life is nothing new. An article recently published in a California-based newspaper entitled, "Want to End War? Give Women Leaders a Chance," recounts the tale of Lysistrata, the Greek comedy where women demand peace by withholding sex until their husbands agree to stop the Peloponnesian War.
Supplanting mythology with reality, women in Liberia recently lined the streets sitting through rain, blazing sun, and wind, often with bullets and air raids whirling around them amidst a brutal civil war, holding true to one simple message: "We Want Peace; No More War."
The grassroots campaign not only put an end to war, but elected the country's first female president. "We offered a rehumanizing approach," said Leymah Gbowee, executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa. "We engaged in real relationships with the child soldiers. We saw them not as perpetrators of violence, but as our sons and daughters."
Even one more death became, for these women, incomprehensible.
But it doesn't require a woman to bear children to appreciate the sacredness of life. Women's eNews recounts how female journalists have increasingly focused on the toll war takes on civilian populations -- primarily the women and children -- who have little or no say in the decisions that lead to mass killing.
And although women still may only make up an average of 18% of leadership positions across the U.S., it is not surprising that there is at least one area in which women are starting to pull ahead: nuclear diplomacy. In fact, when the U.S. recently engaged in negotiations with Russia on a new nuclear treaty, a Russian delegate was surprised by the large number of female members of the U.S. Delegation. He asked, "How come you've got so many women?"
Perhaps the best woman to answer this question is the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, a country that opposed and officially condemned the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In her address to the Leaders Global Security Summit in 2007, Clark said, "Women resort to jaw-jaw rather than war-war."
Can we talk?
Lori Sokol, Ph.D., is President of Sokol Media, Inc., and host of the weekly radio show, 'Juggling Act,' on 1490AM WGCH. She can be reached at email@example.com