Like most UN peacekeeping missions, it’ll kill ‘em:
Call it Michael Moore meets Sacha Baron Cohen.
A pro-Israel activist is hoping that his documentary on the United Nations — to be released nationwide on June 1 — brings focus to what he says is the world body’s global ineffectiveness.
But will the left-leaning Moore’s trademark style wow viewers of a documentary taking aim at an organization that has long been a punching bag for the right?
Horowitz, a former investment banker and avowed conservative, says the film is neither liberal nor conservative. Indeed, in what may wind up being a savvy directorial decision, the film never mentions what many consider one of the most egregious examples of the UN’s moral blindspot: a relentless focus on Israel.
I understand the decision, but I have to call it out. Leaving out the UN’s pathological focus on Israel is like leaving the Holocaust out of Hitler’s bio. Yes, the UN is corrupt and incompetent, and, yes, Hitler caused World War Two—but hello?! Aren’t you forgetting something?
Instead, Horowitz keeps the lens trained on UN failures in areas generally cherished by liberals: peacekeeping and human rights.
He travels to the African nation of Cote d’Ivoire, where he reports on a little-known incident in which a contingent of French UN peacekeepers fired on protesters. He interviews Nobel laureate Jody Williams, whose report on Darfur for the UN Human Rights Council was nearly blocked by the very body that commissioned it. And he reviews the details of better-known examples of UN wrongdoing, such as sexual abuse allegations by peacekeepers and the atrocious Oil for Food Programme that served mainly to enrich Saddam Hussein.
“Almost anybody who is a liberal thinks it’s a liberal movie, and everybody who is conservative thinks it’s a conservative movie,” Horowitz said. “People don’t know [UN reform] is a conservative cause.”
Horowitz routinely presents himself as a credulous buffoon, eagerly accepting the assurances of an Iranian official that his country is not making nuclear weapons and agreeing with UN disarmament chief Sergio Duarte’s assessment that despite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated hostile declarations against Israel, the Iranian president’s true intensions cannot be divined.
The routine succeeds, Borat-syle, in making several interviewees look silly. In a segment on the UNs failure to stop the killings in Darfur, Horowitz asks Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations why Sudan stones gays after the first offense but lesbians only after the fourth.
“No, no, no,” the ambassador corrects him. “Woman, if she is married, she will be stoned immediately.”
Earlier in the interview, Horowitz informs the ambassador that before learning of the situation in Darfur, he had thought the Janjaweed was a strain of Sudanese marijuana.
Horowitz screened the film for Dick Cheney at the former vice president’s home in Virginia, and for media executives Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes in New York. According to Horowitz, Murdoch liked the film and wanted to distribute it, but Ailes warned him that supporting the film would be tantamount to declaring war on the United Nations.
Murdoch, Horowitz recalled, replied that Ailes’ FOX News is already at war with the world body.
“The whole idea of the movie is based on the idea of activism,” Horowitz said. “I’m not trying to tell an impartial story. The only thing I’m responsible for is the truth. I have no responsibility beyond that. I don’t have to show both sides of anything. I have a point of view and I’m trying to prove it.”
Aggie and I have written here and talked off line about what is a reasonable response to genocide in all its guises: gendercide, infanticide, ethnic slaughter, etc. We don’t disagree, but we present different sides. If America washes its hands of Afghanistan, for example, many/most/all women there will suffer at the hands of the Taliban; yet if America stays, we own a corrupt, incompetent government (sounds like a job for the UN!), unwilling or incapable of defeating the Taliban. And we bleed, however slowly.
Can’t really argue against either side.
But I wonder if that might be a false choice. Afghanistan may be intractable, but perhaps there are choices other than should we stay or should we go. Perhaps the UN’s utter rottenness can be said to have claimed another victim.
The UN treats Kim’s Korea and Harper’s Canada the same. The US and China. That structure stretches amorality to the edge of immorality—and beyond. To refuse to judge countries and rank them objectively on human rights and civil liberties for their citizens, on transparency, on corruption, on threats of war with neighbors, the region, the world—that is no club of which to be a member. I’d rather be a Blood or a Crip, where at least initiative and drive count for something.
I’m not saying another entity would solve Afghanistan: NATO hasn’t. But if there is value in countries acting together when common interests align, it must be among countries with common interests. Iran is no such country. Sudan is no such country. Castro’s Cuba and Chavez’s Venezuela are no such countries. Probably 90% of the countries are no such countries. (I mean, I think Peru is a cool country—I love it. But would I want it in my fox… rather, llama-hole?)
I don’t really know. As I say, NATO doesn’t have the will to stay in Afghanistan, but maybe that’s because Afghanistan isn’t exactly adjacent to the North Atlantic (the NA of its acronym). But would a ToAD (Treaty of Allied Democracies)? Is there even the glimmer of a hint of a spine among those few countries with thriving democracies AND a functioning military to solve the world’s problems? Wouldn’t we rather The Avengers sort it out?
What I have no patience for (if you have the patience to keep reading) is pointless mewling over vewy sad twagedies. I focused my contempt at the impotence of the Free Tibet movement into the founding of this blog. Over its six years, I couldn’t have held the Save Darfur crowd in lower esteem if they kicked puppies in the inadequate, pathetic failure to save it. If Mia Farrow really wanted to make a difference, she should have entered pie-eating and hot-dog wolfing contests, rather than go on a hunger strike. Who wants to watch a bleeding heart anorexic starve herself? But watch an elfin, neurotic social x-ray put her cinched waist on the line for real change? I’d pay whatever pay-per-view charged: that’s conservative porn. “Double Chins for Darfur”, “Big Asses for Biafra”, “Tubs of Goo for Timbuktu”.
“Mia Does Mallomars”.
Saving innocent people from tyranny may be the highest cause a people can aspire to. I just set my sights a little lower, I guess.