Lately the Iraq war is being compared to the Vietnam war, because many people aren’t quite sure why we’re there and our soldiers are vulnerable to attack by civilians. But others say it’s becoming more like the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The U.S. has already adopted many of Israel’s military tactics, such as bulldozing terrorists’ houses. One thing many Moslem women’s groups have hoped that the fall of Saddam Hussein would bring is the establishment of women’s rights as part of any new constitution. But, at present, the situation is too violent for anybody’s rights to be respected, least of all women’s.

In his new report, defense analyst Nicholas Blanford, who spent a month in Iraq, says, “It is not lost on the Iraqis that the U.S. military has embraced some of the tactics used by the Israeli army in the West Bank and Gaza. Massive displays of firepower, sealing off villages with razor wire, mass arrests and bulldozing houses of suspected militants have become commonplace. Sunni mosques have been raided and senior clerics detained.

“The Americans are falling into the same vicious cycle?[as Israel]: cracking down on the guerrillas fuels support for the resistance, which leads to more repressive measures, and on and on. The U.S. Army views its counter-insurgency efforts largely in military terms. However, political measures are equally, if not more, important for diminishing the violence of opposition.”

U.S. officials say Iraqi resistance leader Moqtada Sadr identifies with Hamas and Hizbullah. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt says, “He started calling himself the striking arm of Hamas and Hizbullah and he has told his militia to go out and kill Iraqis and kill coalition forces.”

Houda Zayati, reporter for the Iraqi Balad daily, says, “You have just made Iraq another Palestine.”

One of the reasons we’re in the Middle East is to show the world that democracy can work there, and one sign of democracy is better treatment of women. Our “friends” the Saudis are some of the worst abusers of women. Rania al-Baz, a popular TV host who was beaten by her husband, has sent pictures of her swollen face to local newspapers in order to illustrate how even the most successful, modern women are not immune from being beaten up by their husbands. She says her husband, Mohammed al-Fallatta, beat her so hard he broke her nose and fractured her face in 13 places because he became infuriated when she answered the telephone. She says, “I want to use what happened to me to draw attention to the plight of women in Saudi Arabia.”

Abeer Mishkhas, of the English-language newspaper Arab News, says, “It is considered a husband’s rights that his wife should obey him. This can involve coercion or violence, and we know that the majority of cases of this kind go unreported and unnoticed.”

Kim Ghattas of the BBC says this is probably the first time a case of domestic violence has received media coverage in Saudi Arabia, so maybe we are having an influence on the culture there.

There’s more than one way to abuse a woman?our government is just more subtle about it.

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