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Monday, July 14, 2014

We Are Many Promising to Stop the Clash of Civilizations

"On February 15 2003, millions and millions of people, in over 800 cities across all seven continents, marched against the impending invasion of Iraq. It has been described as "the biggest and most widespread collective protest the world has ever seen -- the largest mobilization of people in human history. Yet, it remains an untold, little-known story."

According to BBC News, 6 to 10 million people took part in protests in up to 60 countries, on every continent, over the weekend of the 15th and 16th of February 2003. Other reports estimated the actual number was closer to 30 million. Protesters from Tasmania to Iceland, New York to Sydney, and London to Rome, marched against the impending war in Iraq. Even at the McMurdo base in Antarctica, 
more than 50 scientists staged a half-hour rally.

The film We Are Many tells the story of that single day and explores its meaning. It unveils the drama, emotion, magnitude and testimonies of a historic day. At its heart is the drama of many millions of everyday people fighting to stop a war, set against a small number of people working to start one. The film follows the twists and turns of these opposing forces, both as the facts were known then, and what has come to light since the invasion in leaks, inquiries, and high-level hearings.

Eight years in the making, We Are Many chronicles for the first time the rise of a new kind of movement, from those who built and participated in it, as well as those who opposed it. It is an untold chapter in the history of people power, by turns uplifting and chilling, which reveals the potential power of ordinary people as well as the dark underbelly of the war machine.

When the credits of the film rolled at the Sheffield Doc/Fest, the film was met with a five minute standing ovation and a deeply moved audience. It has most decidedly stirred a deep globalisation of conscience.

A story with a cast of tens of millions, people acting all over the world - on all seven continents, in 800 cities - to influence political decisions of life and death importance. - See more at:
The documentary is a story with a cast of tens of millions, people acting all over the world - on all seven continents, in 800 cities -- to influence political decisions of life and death importance. Is the protest to become the "Genesis Story" of our current era?

The State of Democracy

“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, 
by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

--President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

What is the state of democracy today? Reigning political agents and the majority often disagree about decisions concerning foreign affairs, especially those about American military intervention. The popularity of the collective protest and We Are Many are indications that isolationism is gaining new favor.

In 2003, the potential effect of the protests was generally dismissed by pro-war politicians; the then US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was reported as saying that the protests would "not affect [the US administration's] determination to confront Saddam Hussein and help the Iraqi people."

And, of course, the protests did not stop the war. According to President Bush the order was given that the coalition mission was "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people." Only the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland participated in the invasion.

Thousands of troops and civilians were killed in the action. Eventually, Hussein was dethroned, captured, and eventually executed. A new "democratic" government was installed. Yet, the question remains about how much "help" waging the war gave "the Iraqi people." The cost paid by the American armed services was 4,800 casualties in nine years.

The protests of 2003 and other public opposition have been held up as key factors in the decisions of the governments of many countries, such as Canada, to not send troops to Iraq. These protests also give great hope that people power can be a powerful antidote to the idea that war is inevitable between religions factions of Western leaders and reactionary forces in the Arab world. Many hold hope that protests can quell such a showdown.

The Clash of Civilizations

The Clash of Civilizations is a theory proposed by political scientist Samuel P. Huntington that people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world. Huntington believed that while the age of ideology had ended, the world had only reverted to a normal state of affairs characterized by cultural conflict. In his thesis, he argued that the primary axis of conflict in the future will be along cultural and religious lines.

(Samuel P. Huntington. "The Clash of Civilizations." Foreign Affairs, Vol. 72. 1993)

Huntington also argued that civilizational conflicts are "particularly prevalent between Muslims and non-Muslims," identifying the "bloody borders" between Islamic and non-Islamic civilizations. This conflict dates back as far as the initial thrust of Islam into Europe. Huntington also believed that some of the factors contributing to this conflict were that both Christianity (which has influenced Western civilization) and Islam were:
  • Missionary religions, seeking conversion of others
  • Universal, "all-or-nothing" religions, in the sense that it is believed by both sides that only their faith is the correct one
  • Teleological religions (final causes exist in nature), that is, that their values and beliefs represent the goals of existence and purpose in human existence.
  • Irreligious people who violate the base principles of those religions are perceived to be furthering their own pointless aims, which leads to violent interactions.
More recent factors contributing to a Western-Islamic clash, Huntington wrote, are the Islamic Resurgence and the demographic explosion in Islam, coupled with the values of Western universalism -- that is, the view that all civilizations should adopt Western values -- that infuriate Islamic fundamentalists. Huntington believed all of this would lead to a bloody clash between the Islamic and Western civilizations in the future.

Should We Remain Optimistic?

“America is still a government of the naive, for the naive, and by the naive. He who does not know this, nor relish it, has no inkling of the nature of his country.”

--Christopher Morley, American Journalist and Author (1890-1957)

Morley's satire is understood. I want to see We Are Many. The post today is blind in that my opinion of the film must be reserved until I view it; however, if you read me at all, you understand that I believe in democracy while finding myself increasingly dismayed by American politics. I don't know what will happen in Iraq, but the recent ISIS activity and their attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate ignites America's concern over future actions in the country.

Considering a Clash of Civilizations, I believe the world must come to grips with terrorism while not forcing a single ideology upon all its inhabitants. I understand that certain security risks would be taken with a smaller foreign presence, but lately I can't even keep score of whom we must befriend and whom we must oppose. Iran? Syria? Iraq? Libya? Afghanistan? Pakistan? China? And, how about so many factions within each country struggling for power? We seem to sleep with the enemy whenever we need support against a new political foe. Inconsistency and weak alliances reign in United States' foreign policy.

Noted sociologist Jonathon H. Turner said the all cultural conflicts are difficult to resolve because parties to the conflicts have different beliefs, and these conflicts greatly intensify "when those differences become reflected in politics, particularly on a macro level."

We, in America, still are learning to tolerate “the other.” Our endless "War on Terror" is an incoherent foreign policy. Is it any wonder the rest of world looks toward our shores and wonders if "anybody's home" although the lights are on? The rich and the powerful in the United States seem to be ever ready to create wars for reasons best known to them, currently, in the name of democracy. War to punish or reward dictators is insane as one hawkish group decides the will of the majority. Even war in the right to establish national security should be questioned when recent activities have not proven effective.

In the end, we all have to make it loud and clear that we are rational beings and we will not allow ourselves to be steered in whichever direction these warmongers want. David Woolner, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute suggests a solution. He says...

“We must shift our emphasis from the instruments of war to the instruments of justice and treat the terrorists not as belligerents, but as criminals, whose disrespect for the rule of law and basic human rights will ultimately be defeated. Not on the battlefield, but through the exercise of justice.”
(Arshiah Parween. "Zero Tolerance To War."

I agree with Woolner, and I also believe the words of Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author. Let me end this post with his ideas:

"That struggle (learning to tolerate "the other") has to happen in the Arab/Muslim world, otherwise nothing we do matters ...

"Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting since the 7th century over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad’s spiritual and political leadership, and our credibility (America's) is on the line? Really? Their civilization has missed every big modern global trend — the religious Reformation, democratization, feminism and entrepreneurial and innovative capitalism — and our credibility is on the line? I don’t think so."

(Thomas L. Friedman. "Same War, Different Country."  
The New York Times. September 7, 2013)

Click for Youtube. We Are Many Trailer

Click for Youtube. Terry Jones Appeal [We Are Many: Feature Documentary]


Joseph A. Clark Charitable Trust (UK), The Tipping Point Film Fund (UK), Canadian Peace Alliance(CPA), Global Exchange (USA), The Elders – Global, Greenpeace, AVAAZ – Global, 38 Degrees – UK, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Code Pink (USA), Peace Action (USA), Stop the War Coalition (UK), United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), Amiel and Melburn Trust (UK), War on Want – Global, Puma – Global, Channel 4 BritDoc Foundation (UK), Working Films (USA), Film Forum – NY (501c3 partner in USA).

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