This is a transcript of an interview Matthew Alan Hill conducted with Emma Sky for the Women and US Foreign Policy Interview Project at The Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.
Interviewee: Emma Sky (ES)
Employment position at time of interview: Visiting Professor at the War Studies Department, King’s College London
Interviewer: Matthew Alan Hill (MH)
Date: July 14, 2011
Location: London, UK
General questions about your career [00:03 – 18:22]
Career before working in foreign policy; difference between foreign policy making and foreign policy implementation; US military generals as a source of inspiration; US military is the armed wing of Amnesty International; US military leadership has a sense of purpose that civilian leadership cannot offer; student studying Hebrew and Arabic at Oxford University; impact of first Palestinian intifada and Gulf War on personal political growth and desire to reduce poverty and mediate conflict; bringing a local voice to the US military decision making table in Iraq; understanding why Iraqi insurgents used violence; key motivators to personal success; class and gender issues in British military in contrast to the US military.
Non-gender specific issues and events you were involved in during your FP-related career [18:23 – 27:59]
Reframing language describing opponents to US military in Iraq; understanding motivations of the various insurgents; US military working with the Sunni Awakening; speed of decision-making in US military reaching the lower ranks; change in US military’s strategy in responding to opponents; increase in Iraqi groups engaging in conversation with the US military and a reduction in violence.
Experiences and knowledge of US engagement with gender issues in foreign policy [28:00 – 39:53]
Main focus not on gender issues; Female Awakening in Iraq; gender an aspect to human security; females as non-threatening advisers to male military superiors; changing indicators that reflect successful development projects; difficulties of the US military supporting gender-focussed development projects; repetitive refocusing of counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan.
Views on recent US foreign policy related issues [39:54 – 55:25]
Bush administration gave democracy promotion a ‘bad name’; Obama 2009 Cairo speech and empty promises on democracy in MENA; US did not change its support for authoritarian regimes in MENA after the 2011 Arab Spring; Obama administration’s lack of vision in changing US policy in the MENA region, and its pragmatic assessment of whether it would support revolts; US presidential campaign focussed on domestic not foreign policy; neo-conservative cry of success in using Iraq as a democratic beacon for the MENA region; Egyptian people’s perspective is that the US propped up Mubarak for support for Israel and to keep Palestinians divided; improvement of Iran’s position in the region due to the US ‘War on Terror’; promoting democracy in Iraq was an ideological goal for the Bush administration between 2003-4; due to Iraqi civil war stability not democracy was what defined success; is Iraq moving towards democracy or kleptocracy?; will take a long time before Iraq becomes a democracy; domestic versus externally-led democratisation.