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Farcical fellowships: Laura Bush promises ‘international collaboration’

June 23, 2010

Attention, U.S.A. undergraduates! The State Department’s ‘Diplomacy in Action’ program is once again offering the Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship, with a selection subcommittee ‘which shall include a personal representative of Mrs. Laura W. Bush.’ The UNESCO-mandated grant seeks candidates whose projects use ‘education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture an/or communication and information to build strong ties among nations.’

You may recall that the former FLOTUS, for whom this fellowship is named (to icily satirical effect), demonstrated her interest for Afghan women simultaneously as her former POTUS husband planned its invasion in 2001—after all, the Bush II years are primarily remembered for their attention to ‘build strong [educational, scientific, cultural] ties among nations,’ mmyes?

The Institute for Public Accuracy’s must-read monograph (dated 2005) called ‘Laura Bush, Women and Realities of Afghanistan‘ quotes Afghan Women’s Mission co-founder Sonali Kolhatkar:

Mrs. Bush said yesterday that ‘American women stand in solidarity with the women of Afghanistan.’ But most Afghan women disapprove of U.S. policy. Women are overwhelmingly disappointed with the re-emergence of warlords, a direct result of U.S. policy. These warlords are ideologically similar to the Taliban and many have horrific war crimes in their past. Unfortunately the Bush administration and Mrs. Bush refuse to apply the same standards of women’s rights to their warlord allies. […] Laura Bush is taking $21.2 million in school grants to Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s education was recently called the ‘worst education system in the world’ by the UN, and unfortunately Mrs. Bush’s donation will barely make a dent in the needs.’

Afghanistan is no longer archly connected to Bush II, though. For almost two years it has been called (correctly, in my view) Obama’s War. It’s all the more sickening that UNESCO has named a fellowship in ‘international collaboration’ after Laura Bush during the age of Obama’s high neocolonial Liberalism. To think that after a decade of war on the Middle East, Obama’s wars could afford the formerly dark, ominous Bush years with a certain legitimacy and even diplomatic caché.

The wounded Afghan woman in the photo above is named Zinat Gul. She was injured in the U.S.-led air strikes in Azizabad that killed 33 Afghans and injured countless others. If Wikileaks‘ Julian Assange is successful, video of this attack could become available shortly, though one wonders how much leaking it takes before the true face of ‘international collaboration’ is met with anger and disdain by the American public.

[Related: Five inquiries on the worth of an Afghan woman]

[Related: Operation Khanjar, over my covered body]

(Photo by AFP.)

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