Gerecht Pines for an Old American Century

When questioned about the role of women in the new Iraqi constitution on Meet the Press yesterday Reuel Marc Gerecht, Director of the Middle East Initiative at the Project for the New American Century – the right wing think tank that brought us the Iraq War – let slip the neo-cons’ real opinion regarding women:

MR. GREGORY: Fast forward to this morning. Gentlemen, we put this on the screen from The New York Times. “[American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay] Khalilzad had backed language [in the constitution] that would have given clerics sole authority in settling marriage and family disputes. That gave rise to concerns that women’s rights, as they are annunciated in Iraq’s existing laws, could be curtailed. … [The[ arrangement, coupled with the expansive language for Islam, prompted accusations from [a Kurdish leader] that the Americans were helping in the formation of an Islamic state.”

Mr. Diamond, is that a change of position?

MR. DIAMOND: It would be, I think, a substantial change if it’s true. We need to wait and see what exactly is true. All of these are just reports. Let me say, I don’t think we have–and I think Reuel would agree with this–we don’t have the power anymore to foreclose this, to veto this. We’re not a veto player there anymore. But neither do I think the United States should be endorsing it. And I think our clear stand should be in favor of individual rights and freedoms, including religious freedom, as vigorously as possible. So I hope the ambassador on the ground is standing up for that principle.

MR. GREGORY: Mr. Gerecht, the consequences of this?

MR. GERECHT: Actually, I’m not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women’s social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there’s no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it’s important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we’d all be thrilled. I mean, women’s social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they’re there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.

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