I was having a discussion the other day with a woman who was fervently hoping that Hillary Clinton would not be elected in the US. Her reasoning was simply that there’s never been a female head of state who had not gone to war. Leaving aside that one of the requirements for a Republican nomination is a willingness to nuke Islamic countries, the argument didn’t seem that rational. I wasn’t that convinced it was even true.
Don’t get me wrong. There has been a number of female warlords of some considerable hawkishness. Boudicca kicked arse, but to be fair to her it was because she objected to the perfidious Romans reneging on a deal and raping her daughters. The Amazons were allegedly a bunch you really wouldn’t want to tangle with. Latterly Indira Gandhi thumped Pakistan, prior to her making herself so unpopular that she was assassinated, proving pretty conclusively that if you live by the sword you die by the sword. And who can forget that bloodthirsty old harridan Margaret Thatcher, who famously had a warship sunk while it was sailing away from the combat zone?
But let’s add some balance here. Julia Gillard, was PM of Australia for a while without firing a shot in anger. Corazon Aquino in the Philippines may well have been corrupt as all get out, but never went to war with anybody. Mind you, with the Philippines having on of the highest murder rates in the world, they’d probably have difficulty mustering a couple of platoons let alone an army. Angela Merkel has stuffed Greece pretty badly, but never actually resorted to gunboat diplomacy.
Let us not forget Costa Rica. They’ve had many female PMs, including the delightfully named Laura Chinchilla. Not one has gone to war. Part of the reason for this is that, believe it or not, Costa Rica has no army. Alone of all the countries in the world, it’s so peaceful it has no standing fighting force. This is quite something considering it shares a land border with Nicaragua, which is not exactly a haven of peace and tranquillity, is it?