Women and Feminism has been Co-opted by NATO & the Military Industrial Complex with “Girl-washing”


Clare Daly, Irish Member of the European Parliament at Meeting with Global Women For Peace United Against NATO meeting, Says Women and Feminism has been Co-opted by NATO & the Military Industrial Complex with “Girl-washing”

 By Ann Wright

Global Women For Peace United Against NATO met in Brussels, Belgium, July 6-9, 2023 with representatives from 35 countries who have agreed with the Declaration of the group that states that “Our aspiration for peace is today threatened by the escalating arms race and the risk of nuclear war, the strengthening of military alliances and the militarization of international relations. All this risks leading humanity to catastrophe. NATO’s decisions since 1991 have in large part been responsible for this developing global confrontation.”

PHOTO by Ann Wright, Members of the Global Women For Peace Against NATO 

with on the podium L to R Irish MEP Clare Daly, from Cyprus Global Woman Skevi Koukouma, German MEP Özlem Demirel and from Finland Global Woman Ulla Klotser

As a part of the three day Global Women’s meeting, on July 6 Irish member of the European Parliament Clare Daly addressed members of the group at a meeting in the European on the role of NATO and its impact on women and feminism. 

She described NATO as engaging “in a highly strategic and highly considered communications strategy to try and position itself as a cosmopolitan defender of gender justice and human rights. The goal, of course, is to legitimate its actions and existence, and to open up a whole new market of support for its project. Recognizing the fact that it had an image problem, since it was rightly perceived as the enforcer of Western patriarchal muscular militarism at a time when the problematization of ‘toxic masculinity’ was increasingly popular and mainstream, and conscious of the fact that feminist anti-militarism was gaining ground with the young and the progressive in the wake of America’s high-profile and disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, NATO seems to have taken a very deliberate decision to market itself differently, and the language of gender equality was just what it needed.”

Daly added, “Feminism has been ruthlessly co-opted by the military industrial complex. A succession of young, glossy female politicians and media personalities have been pushed to the fore across Europe to argue on NATO’s behalf, to argue for more war, more militarism, more arms spending. NATO has cottoned on to the power of social media and the emotional heft of identity politics, and is leveraging online influencers and the thinnest imaginable conception of gender equality to push its patriarchal, militarist agenda.”

Daly added that “War and militarism are anathema to feminism. They are opposites, they cannot be reconciled. Anyone who tries to reconcile them, anyone who tries to abuse the language of gender equality to justify war and violence – those people are not advancing the cause of feminism, which is the cause of equality, of resistance to all forms of violence, exploitation and discrimination, the cause of care – for each other and the planet that sustains us.’

Daly said that “anyone who argues for a ‘feminist militarism’ is abusing feminism and  they’re ruthlessly exploiting the years of feminist work and advocacy, the decades of feminist activism that have won women some measure of rights; they’re cynically milking the blood sweat and tears of the hundreds of thousands of women all over the world who have made it their life’s work to advocate for a better, fairer, more sustainable world based on feminist principles; and they’re plundering the goodwill generated by all of that for their own, selfish and greedy ends.

Daly called out women executives of corporations in the military-industrial complex. In 2019 the CEOs of four of the five biggest defense contractors  in the United States— Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and the defense arm of Boeing were women.

Daly said, “We have to be loud in calling that out. We have to be crystal clear in our position that girl-washing militarism is an act of breathtaking cynicism that we will not stand for. Women who allow themselves to be used as lobbyists for violence, these women cannot be allowed to so much hint or imply that they speak on behalf of anything other than the military industrial complex that’s bought and paid for them, metaphorically or otherwise.”

Please read the entire speech given by MEP Clare Daly here. 

Clare will be one of the keynote speakers for the national Veterans For Peace annual convention August 25-27.

Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She was also in the US diplomatic corps for 16 years and served in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned from the US government in March 2003 in opposition to the US war on Iraq.  Since then she has worked for peace with Veterans For Peace, CODEPINK: Women For Peace and many other peace organizations around the world.  She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”

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