A book review in the June 18-19 weekend Wall Street Journal brings into focus two horrific consequences of modern society’s demand for individual liberty of choice without moral absolutes. The book being reviewed was Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men written by Mara Hvistendahl. The reviewer is Jonathan V. Last.
The first consequence documented by the author is the shocking statistic about the choices being made by potential parents around the world. The statistic shows that female fetuses are being aborted at a much higher rate than male fetuses. According to the book, “Since the late 1970’s, a hundred-sixty-three million female babies have been aborted by parents seeking sons.” This has occurred, not only in China and India where sexual selection is common, but throughout the world; especially in parts of the world that are without any cultural objections to the taking of human life in the womb.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade essentially declared individual choice as the highest and most sacred civil liberty. This is in opposition to the right to life stance for the unborn. The second consequence of the demand for individual liberty, which stems from this decision, is demonstrated in Ms. Hvistendahl’s book as the review reveals how unquestioning the author and much of the global society have been convinced of this premise.
From the Wall Street book review, it becomes clear the author is blinded to the fact that individual choice ungoverned by moral absolutes will eventually lead to horrific, unintended consequences that are destructive to the very meaning of being human. This blindness results from the author’s indefensible commitment to what she perceives is a woman’s right to take the life of her unborn child though the author cannot find place for the inevitable consequences of her stance.
The author does try to offer some ways to correct the abortion-gender imbalance. However, the author’s suggested way to protect some of the unborn females is not only absurd, it reveals her inability to grasp the fundamental truth that individual liberty without the restraint of moral absolutes corrupts society at its core. The reviewer, Mr. Last, concludes his review with the following segment in a way that cannot be improved:
“’Choice is choice,’ one Indian abortionist tells Ms. Hvistendahl: ‘I have patients who come and say I want to abort because if this baby is born, it will be a Gemini, but I want a Libra.’…This is where choice has already led. Ms. Hvistendahl may wish the matter otherwise, but there are only two alternatives: restrict abortion or accept the slaughter of millions of baby girls…”
While the author, Ms. Hvistendahl, decries the outcome of the unrestrained abortion ethic, one can only observe that once out of the bag who knows where the cat will run. In this instance, it has run over the top of the women’s’ right to choose and bitten the faces of those who so vociferously lobby for that choice.
On Sunday I was watching a roundtable discussion hosted by Christiane Amanpour on This Week. She had three women as guests one of which was Cecelia Attias, former wife of France’s President Nicholas Sarkozy. The discussion theme was that society would function better if more women occupied civic positions in society.
In support of this theory, Amanpour quoted the example of Rwanda. There, post the genocidal war of 1995 between Tutsi and Hutus, women now occupy at least 50% of the parliament and over 50% of President Kagame’s cabinet is female. Now 16 years after the war, it seems that Rwanda is doing much better by all indicators – health, economics, etc – than its neighbouring nations. Amanpour put this statistic to Attias for comment and I suspect she was surprised, as were the other roundtable guests, by Attias’ answer.
Attias countered by refering to Spain. In Spain half the government is composed of women and women are involved in all levels of the community but it suffers from this astounding domestic violence record. The representation of women in civic society came about as a result of a Law on Gender Equality that was passed in 2004 by the newly elected government of socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. The law provided among other things, that women should be appointed to key positions in the administration, created special courts and issued drastic instructions to crack down on domestic violence. But still seven years later this appalling statistic persists.
Amanpour and Attias appeared to quickly agree that the problem might actually be from a different source in Spain – not a lack of women in civic society but instead, a lack of law enforcement. However, one has to ask, what more can be done? If the Prime Minister himself has issued precisely this directive “crack down on domestic violence”, and yet it persists, perhaps it is not enforcement that is the problem either.
Despite its strongly Catholic population, Spain is one of the more progressive, liberal societies in Europe. It is one of the few countries in the world where homosexuals can get married and it is called a marriage not a civil union. Homosexuals can also adopt children. Politicians also enjoy a degree of tolerance, not typically being required to resign for extra-marital affairs or for having visited a prostitute. National serious newspapers, such as El Pais or ABC, publish explicit adult advertisements on a daily basis and afternoon television – that is to say prime television viewing time for kids after school – commonly features sex scenes.
It is a small snapshot, but it paints a clear picture of attitudes between the sexes in Spain. With women marginalized from their essential roles in marriage and child-rearing, and its leaders granted implicit permission to betray their spouses without repercussions, perhaps it is this country’s attitude towards its women that is killing them?
Eye on Europe
Robert Gates, the outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary delivered a stunning rebuke to European leaders in a recent speech delivered in Brussels, Belgium. Speaking during a self-described moment of candor Secretary Gates complained of the continued unreliability of America’s European partners in military matters; citing to the decision of the Netherlands to pull out its troops early from Afghanistan in 2009, as well as the continued reluctance of Germany to commit its forces to combat roles for NATO missions. Concluding his comments with a rhetorical question, Mr. Gates openly wondered whether future U.S. Presidents, in light of continued economic stagnation for the foreseeable future, will think that it is worth the investment to aid Europe in matters of defense.
Mr. Gates’ frustration has been shared by a generation of U.S. leaders who have complained about footing the bill for military engagements that European leaders officially support, but rarely commit the needed resources to. Examples include the NATO interventions in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and now most recently, Libya, where U.S. military assets and personnel are relied upon disproportionately to carry out the mission. The outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary’s comments are even more relevant during a period when economic instability in the United States has led to calls for cuts to military spending.
The Secretary’s comments leave open the question as to what exactly European leaders would do in response to an American pull back. European populations are far too committed to the extensive social services provided by most governments to entertain a shift in spending away from such programs in favor of a military build-up. Moreover, while Europe is suffering the economic instability plaguing other parts of the world, the notion of raising taxes is certainly not appealing.
The answer may come in the form of greater European military cooperation. The recent agreement reached by Britain and France to begin sharing key military assets, such as use of the French aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, as a means of cutting costs may set a precedent for the rest of the EU. Some leaders within the EU have proposed for over a decade the creation of a pan European military force. However, this has met with little success because of the overwhelming reliance placed by most of Europe on the American led NATO alliance. If Mr. Gates’ comments turn out to be prescient, and Washington does begin pulling back from its traditional leadership role in European military matters, the gap may well be filled with the rise of a new, European military.
For more regarding Secretary Gates’ recent speech, read the recent EU Observer article reporting his comments.
Eye on Europe
On May 29th the Financial Times, a British newspaper, revealed that the European Union is contemplating an “unprecedented” intervention in the Greek economy. Europe is on the verge of launching this historic initiative because it has become increasingly clear that Athens will need at least another 100 billion euros in emergency financial aid in order to stave off what, for lack of a better word, can be described as bankruptcy. The intervention by Greek’s European partners may include such far-reaching measures as a European take-over of assets owned by the Greek government for the purpose of selling them off. International involvement in Greek tax collection and other revenue raising activities usually considered to be the exclusive domain of national governments, are also proposed.
After over a year since it was first revealed that the Greek government was near financial collapse, it has become clear that this Mediterranean nation is unwilling to implement the economic reforms needed to turn the situation around. Current Greek government borrowing runs at a shocking rate of 150% of the national GDP. Without additional loans from European partners and international institutions like the IMF, it is almost certain that Athens will default on its financial obligations – a scenario which would drag down the economies of other fragile European states.
Representatives of Greece to the European Union in Brussels have in recent days again suggested their country will have to give up the common currency, the euro, and return to the old national currency, the drachma, in order to deal with the crisis. This too is an unsavory option for the rest of Europe, as it will certainly lead to a loss of value for the euro. Nevertheless, Europe’s leading lender nations to Greece, such as Germany and the Netherlands are facing their own political dilemma, as recent polls suggest that support for extending further financial support to Greece is low amongst voters. To assuage voter discontent, the recent European proposal to take a direct hand in the Greek economy is seen as an attempt to appease voter apathy towards bailing out this vulnerable economy.
The contemplated intervention in Greece would compromise the sovereignty of that nation. However, in order to prevent the entire Eurozone (those European nations who use the euro as their currency) from falling into economic catastrophe, it is becoming increasingly clear that Greece, or any individual Eurozone country, cannot be allowed to mismanage their economy to such an extent. In this regard the situation in Greece sets a radical new precedent.
Perhaps recognizing that it may no longer be possible for individual member states who use the euro currency to individually manage their economic affairs without oversight, Jean Claude Trichet, the soon retiring head of the European Central Bank recently proposed the creation of a European wide ministry of finance. This new ministry would, amongst other things, manage to one degree or another the fiscal and budgetary policies of EU member states.
Such a proposal stood no chance of winning acceptance by the member states of the EU in times past. But these are not normal times, and as the rest of Europe prepares to in intervene in Greece minds are concentrated on securing Europe’s long term economic future.