War and the imperialism that so often drives it aren't good for anybody except arms dealers, imperial states who gain territory and/or hegemony, and the wealthy whose fortunes grow regardless of who wins or loses. For everyone else war means death, injury, destruction, loss, disruption – and more. “Women and girls suffer disproportionately during and after war, as existing inequalities are magnified and social networks break down, making them more vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation,” according to the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
Massive numbers of women civilians are killed and injured in modern warfare. Widows of war are displaced, disinherited, and impoverished. Women and children are the majority of war refugees. Rape, sexual torture and sexual exploitation are fueled by war. Women's bodies are a battleground over which opposing forces struggle. Women are kidnapped and used as sexual slaves to service troops, as well as to cook for them and carry their loads. They are purposefully infected with HIV/AIDS, which is a slow, painful murder. Rape leaves lasting psycho-social consequences including depression, stigma, discrimination, and all too often, unwanted pregnancy.
Women have a greater vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections, particularly HIV/AIDS, and especially as a result of rape. They are harmed by a lack of reproductive health care as part of humanitarian aid. Women's vulnerability is increased due to pregnancy, childbirth, and responsibility for caring for children, elders, the sick and the wounded. Women do not receive what they need during emergencies.
Women are further assaulted by Disaster Patriarchy. Akin to disaster capitalism (as defined by Naomi Kline), disaster patriarchy occurs where men exploit a crisis to reassert control and dominance over women, and rapidly erase their hard-earned rights. Disaster patriarchy escalates the danger and violence to women. Men then step in as their supposed controller and protector. Disaster racism follows a similar course; we see these oppressive behaviors toward immigrants, non-Christian people, LGBTQiA people and other marginalized groups. Fascism often arises from disasters.
Today, in addition to the well-publicized war in Ukraine, there are major armed conflicts in more than 40 countries. Regional conflicts number in the hundreds. Women across the globe are suffering. They face enormous challenges to their lives, liberty, and personal safety.
Our principles of justice, self-determination and support of human rights compel us to oppose imperialist wars and dismantle patriarchy in all its forms, everywhere that it occurs. Yet here we are again, on the brink of a worldwide conflagration because of the unbridled expansion of the U.S. Empire and its continued violation of human rights.
Apparently there is truth to the adage that "those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it." Or perhaps they know but are blinded by dreams of empire or riches, nationalism or supremacy, patriarchy or hatred, exceptionalism or just plain hubris. Or all of the above.