Sunday, May 1, 2011

U.S. Official Makes Reprehensible False Rape Claim

It is widely believed that it was the women in Barack Obama's administration (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, among others) who pushed for military action in Libya.  Now, in an attempt to persuade nations growing increasingly skeptical about NATO-led attacks on Libya, especially India, Russia and China, there is evidence that US ambassador Susan Rice has made a massive false rape claim.

Rice announced in a closed door meeting at the United Nations Security Council last week that Gaddafi's forces were issuing Viagra, the drug used to treat erectile dysfunction, to soldiers "so that they go out and rape" civilians in areas that support the rebels.

According to this news report, Rice's allegation was false.  "There is no evidence that Libyan military forces are being given Viagra and engaging in systematic rape against women in rebel areas, US military and intelligence officials told NBC News on Friday."  The story notes that "several diplomats said Rice provided no evidence for the Viagra allegation, which they said was made in an attempt to persuade doubters the conflict in Libya was not just a standard civil war but a much nastier fight . . . ."


We do not know if Ms. Rice had faulty intelligence or if she concocted the claim from whole cloth. She needs to promptly explain.

In any case, you need not oppose the NATO-led military effort in Libya to agree that Ms. Rice's false rape claim is despicable. It would be difficult to imagine a false rape claim about a matter more serious because it was uttered to buttress support for a policy that exposes men in combat and innocent civilians to the most serious risk possible.

The fact that this false rape claim has been made by a leading official of the most powerful nation on earth should be a grave concern to the entire world community.

If we, as a society, insist that cries of "rape" be taken seriously, we must be prepared to condemn the abuse of the power to cry "rape" when there is no evidence to support it.  That is all the more true when the claim is made by a leading government official that rape is being used as a weapon of war. 

If the United States is prone to make false rape claims on such a massive scale, it has no moral standing to condemn other nations from telling lies that American men in combat have committed war atrocities against women and children.

Yet, we have seen no condemnations nor expressions of outrage by women's groups regarding Ms. Rice's abuse of the power to cry rape. Their silence on this issue is unfortunate because it suggests they might just believe that the power to falsely cry rape is a legitimate weapon whose use is justified by the ends sought to be achieved.