When U.S. military forces began targeting Islamic State terrorists in Syria this week, they were not entirely alone. As Obama administration officials have been eager to note, five Arab partner nations -- Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates -- "participated in or supported
" the airstrikes,
The role of the U.A.E. has been of particular interest because of Maj. Mariam al-Mansouri. As Ishaan Tharoor reported
yesterday, she's "the first female fighter pilot in the history of the United Arab Emirates," and this week, she helped lead her country's "bombing raids over Syria."
And while this is certainly a great story worthy of the international attention it's received, let's pause to note the discussion
about al-Mansouri on Fox News on Tuesday.
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: Hey, ISIS, you were bombed by a woman. Oh, yes, hell came down on ISIS in Syria, because guess what? The first female pilot, piloting for the UAE -- there she was, leading the strikes -- dropped the bombs on ISIS on Monday night. This is really incredible. [...] GREG GUTFELD: The problem is, she just bombed it. She couldn't park it. GUILFOYLE: Now, did you really have to ruin my moment? GUTFELD: I salute her. ERIC BOLLING: Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?
For those unfamiliar with Bolling, I should probably mention that he's actually a grown man, not a prepubescent child trying to be funny.
Laura Clawson added
, "Wow, guys. Way to prove that no woman is ever immune to the particular sexism of the 12-year-old boy. A woman serving as a fighter pilot bombing the people you want bombed and you're still aiming not one but two different kinds of crude sexism at her."
But if we look past the Fox hosts' cheap and ugly rhetoric, the story of Mariam al-Mansouri is quite inspiring.
More from the Washington Post
According to a profile in the National, the Abu Dhabi-born al-Mansouri harbored an ambition to join the air force since her teenage years, but had to bide her time until women were permitted to enlist. She graduated Khalifa bin Zayed Air College in 2007 and is now a veteran F-16 pilot. [...] It's not clear how vital her and her compatriots' efforts were in the air campaign against the Islamic State, which is entrenched over a vast swath of territory in Syria and Iraq. More important was the sheer fact of her presence. "While Arab participation in the strikes is of more symbolic than military value," writes the Wall Street Journal's Ahmed Al Omran, "analysts described it as a bold move for a group of countries that for long preferred to act via proxies instead of any direct involvement."
: Bolling ended up apologizing
for his "boobs on the ground" comments.