OBAMA AND CODE PINK AND IRAQI WOMEN.

Yesterday Jonathan Martin speculated that Code Pink co-founder Jodi Evans' fundraising for Obama would make for a "resonant" general election attack against the candidate. After all, Martin writes:

According to research being circulated by GOP sources, Evans has a record of inflammatory statements such as saying that women were better off in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, "Men are dying in their Hummers in Iraq so you can drive around in yours" and, my favorite, that the invasion of Iraq amounted to "global testosterone poisoning."

I find Code Pink sometimes silly and often annoying. But is it really so outrageous to say that women were better off in Iraq under Saddam Hussein? MADRE, the international women's human rights organization, reports:

Rape and abductions of women have risen sharply since the invasion, making many women afraid to leave their homes. So have "honor killings," in which rape survivors and women who violate conservative social mores are murdered by male family members to restore the family's "honor." Caught in the social void created by the overthrow of the Ba'ath regime, many Iraqi women are fighting simultaneously against the US occupation and the rising tide of Islamism, which seeks to monopolize interpretations of Islam in pursuit of a reactionary social and political agenda.

Iraqi women say that the gains won by the Iraqi women's movement in the first half of the 1900s—maintained to a large extent through 1990—are being rolled back. Since 2003, the US has strengthened conservative Islamic forces in Iraq both directly, by appointing reactionary clerics to the Iraqi Governing Council in 2004, and indirectly, by creating an atmosphere of chaos where such reactionary forces thrive.

It feels weird to still have to argue this in 2008, but recognizing the human rights abuses that have taken place in Iraq since the U.S. invasion is not the same as excusing the human rights abuses that took place under Saddam's regime.

--Dana Goldstein

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