"These guys just don't get it," a senior State Department official told me more than a year ago, referring to the White House's inner circle's reluctant embrace of the idea that women are central to American security.
If they still don't, it isn't for lack of hearing the idea loud and clear.
On Friday former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech both personal and fiery to argue once again that women are central to American security. Call it the "Hillary Doctrine Unplugged": Freed from the diplomatic propriety of State Department officialdom and White House-shepherded protocols, Clinton spoke plainly to a crowd that loved her message nearly as much as it loves the idea of a second Clinton presidential candidacy. The thesis: extremism and the suppression of women go hand in hand. Ignore the latter and you are ignorant about the former.
"As strong a case as we've made, too many otherwise thoughtful people continue to see the fortunes of women and girls as somehow separate from society at large. They nod, they smile and then they relegate these issues once again to the sidelines. I have seen it over and over again, I have been kidded about it I have been ribbed, I have been challenged in boardrooms and official offices across the world," Clinton said at the Fourth Women in the World Summit before proceeding to poke fun at that conventional wisdom. "The next time you hear someone say that the fate of women and girls is not a core national security issue, it's not one of those hard issues that really smart people deal with, remind them: The extremists understand the stakes of this struggle. They know that when women are liberated, so are entire societies. We must understand this too. And not only understand it, but act on it."