Feb 6, 2019
Since the dawn of the American Empire, thin moral pretexts in our politics and press have been used to justify our wars and conquest. The invasion of Cuba and Philippines in 1898 was declared to be a fight for freedom from Spanish oppression. Vietnam was about stopping Communist tyranny. T he pioneer myth of Manifest Destiny and “westward expansion” was built about “taming” and “civilizing’ the land from violent savages.
But one current that flows through all of these imperial incursions has been the idea that the United States – as well as its allies the Great Britain and Israel – are out to protect women. Today's endless occupations in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan are, in large part, justified in perpetuity because the United States is a self-declared, unique protector of modernity and women’s rights.
All the same, the Pentagon is increasingly promoted, in press releases and media puffy pieces, as a place where women can exercise their agency: the ultimate apex of meritocracy and a vanguard of equality.
But what if this approach misses the point of equality altogether? What if this is simply a craven branding exercise, putting a liberal face on what is a fundamentally oppressive system of violence? On this episode, we explore various ways women’s rights and empowerment has been used to sell colonial objectives and how one can differentiate between actual progress and the superficial language of inclusion used cynically in service of mechanized violence.
Our guests are University of Delaware professor Dr. Kara Ellerby and University of Bristol senior lecturer Dr. Sumita Mukherjee.