Saturday, January 29, 2005

Theo's movie... van Gone!!

Expressionist movie makers....not wanted!, originally uploaded by mightymerk.

Much of today's media around the world will be focused on the elections in Iraq. Major emphasis will be put on the violence that is almost certain to accompany it and the potential for low voter turnout.

There is another striking story though, one many of you know I have been following for some time. It is that of the brutal slaying of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh. (details of the slaying here and here)

It is being reported that the Rotterdam International Film Festival has canceled a screening of Submission Part One. Mr. van Gogh's film about a Muslim woman forced into a marriage with a man who beats here and who later is accused of adultery when her uncle rapes her. The producer of the film, Gijs van de Westelaken, said Thursday, "we do not want to take any chance of endangering anyone else who participated in the film."

So, this weekend much of the emphasis shall focus on the elections on Iraq. Something that in all reality should be cheered, considering the fact if there is just 10% voter turnout (let alone the 50%-80% some are projecting) under the threats of violence, decapitations, kidnappings etc., the men AND WOMEN of Iraq will be participating in a free democratic process. In reality though, a combination of anti-American anti-Bush jeering will take place. I have yet to hear a progressive define what a successful democratic process in Iraq would look like (come on guys just humor me). Yet progressives are so certain the election will be a debacle (as some close to me have labeled it).

All the while the fact that an existing, free democratic nation such as the Netherlands, is cancelling a film screening purely under the threat of potential Islamic fundamentalist dirven violence will be given barely a glance, barely a thought.

Posted by mightymerk, 6:53 AM


By Blogger Christian

With current estimates of about 60% of registered Iraqis voting, it undoubtedly made a positive statement that indicates the people of Iraq want their country back. However, declaring the election process a success at this juncture would be premature based on the dilemma that threatens civility and stability in Iraq. Out of the 275 seats in the new assembly, the Shia will account for the majority. In fact, according to an AP article on Yahoo this morning, estimates that the Iraqi United Alliance (an influential Shiite political party endorsed by Ayatollah Sistani) will dominate by winning 45% of the vote. These are of course estimates, but they appear fairly accurate. This will have a profound impact on how the Shiites view their role in creating the new government, and how disenfranchised Sunnis could be further alienated from the decision making process. In addition, the Kurds have struggled with autonomy for years, and will most likely seize this opportunity to develop their own state as a result of their new found independence. Let’s hope not, but a civil war could be brewing, and by claiming the elections a resounding success is not fairly representing the situation.

@ 1:18 PM  

By Blogger mightymerk

thanks for the only comments is that by your own account a lot of things "could" or "most likely" happen. Fair enough, but what actually 'did' happen was that a large portion of the Iraqi voting block turned out despite extremely threatning circumstances.

Andrew Sullivan said it best "Two years ago, the West liberated Iraq. But yesterday, the Iraqis liberated themselves. "

As predicted in my blog entry, most progressives found nothing to celebrate. Take a look at the progressive blogs, at best they have "mixed feelings" in most cases there is barely an acknowledgement of the Iraqi voters will. They view every American induced action as Swiss Cheese...just looking for holes. So they can say, "hey, there is no cheese here". That is exactly how useful many progressive pundits have become.

At the same time, the Theo van Gogh movie ommission from the Rotterdam film fesitval goes unnoticed (as predicted).

Now the million dollar question...or maybe just for a beer, is: What rational definition do you have for success in Iraq then? I emphasize rational. I am willing to let the process pan out and admit if the environment becomes a horror show, we failed. At what point do you admit the right thing may have been done?

@ 1:44 PM  

By Blogger Christian

I agree with your assessment regarding some "progressivist" banter on the subject of the elections upside, which is in fact a success only because many Iraqis are beginning to make decisions for themselves. That said, I think it's also fair to be cautiously optimistic especially considering the precarious position the country is in, but I already posted comments that reflect those concerns.

As far as your question as to what would be a rational definition of success, you would have to have an ideal (or reasonable)situation where a majority of the population has a consensus, at least politically, or ideologically. Sunnis, Kurds and Shiits have neither. Kurds are basically isolationists, and Sunnis have only distanced themselves further from the political process. This is bad blood that's been spilling for 1500 years, and now it's boiling over.

These concerns needed to be addressed and dealt with, but of course this is very difficult, almost impossible, with a growing insurgency and death threats for Sunnis who do want a voice in their country.

I could be completely wrong on this, and of course I have no crystal ball or first hand insight. You could wind up being 100% right, and I will admit that I was wrong as well. But based on quite a few miscalculations and mistakes the administration, the whole process hasn't really been well thought out.

In closing, let me ask you this, if our national election took place here in the US, and Ohio and Illinois boycotted the election because of inner turmoil, would it be a success? Would that truly be a fully represented government?

@ 9:21 PM  

By Blogger mightymerk

Great reply and great question. Of course FULL participation from all parties is the best way to go...but in historical is not such a realistic expectation.

With regards to the Sunni's, the former larger power base in Iraq. These are the people who benefitted the most from Saddam's regime. Any group that was 20% of the population but represented 90% of the former powerbase is going to be upset. They were Saddam loyalist. But reflecting on their lack of participation in this election would be kind of like souring over the fact that many hard cord Nazi or Hitler sympathizers did not participate in Germany's first free election after WWII.

In the election of 1864, the Confederate States refused to participate. Granted this took place during the Civil war, but would you not agree that the elections going forward, allowing the democratic process to continue was not a good thing? Or do you argue that the elections should have been postponed (a more harmful option in my opinion)?

Keep in mind that after the election in 1860, and prior to the Civil War, South Carolina immediately seceeded (followed by six more states). The country moved on despite this. Also keep in mind that during multiple elections withina 50 year time frame, there were 'territories', such as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado etc. in which they had not voting representation on the National level. Some how it worked.

I can be accused of being overly opitmistic, but I am so with history on my side. I do agree with you though that caution is very good thing with these mattes. This is far from over. Things 'could' and will go wrong, but as long as things are moving perpetually forward I will continue to see the glass as half full (until it actually is) :)

@ 4:40 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home