Thursday, September 11, 2008

Last night, I went to an event where Javier Bardem was supposed to lead a panel discussion and then screen his newly released documentary, The Invisibles. But Bardem was a no show, and the documentary was quite bad. Most folks, including myself, didn't make it through the screening.

I think most people had come to see Bardem anyway, and they were probably itching to leave since the moment they found out he wasn't coming. Many of the women sitting around me got very excited when a tall, shaggy haired guy approached the stage early on, but they were disappointed to see that it was John Prendergast. Prendergast had a good sense of humor about it though. He joked that while he had considered trying to cut his hair to look like Bardem, any such cosmetic attempts on his part would be like "putting lipstick on a pig."

To fill in the celebrity gap, the organizers had managed to invite the beautiful and likable Robin Wright Penn, but lovely as she is, she is just not as cool as, you know, Javier Bardem.

Anyway, the event was all about typical "left" interventionism. While the right-wingers have gatherings where they talk about how to intervene in other countries by bombing, proselytizing, and what ever else it is that they do, the folks ostensibly on the left of that spectrum get together to talk about how they can stick their nose in other people's business by sending in their (often state-connected) NGOs and various other components of their "soft power" machinery.

During the question and answer period, one guy politely intervened in the love-fest of how "we" must act to lobby the US government to fix the problems in Congo to ask what the panel made of the fact that the US has channeled millions and millions of dollars to fund six different sides in the Congo.

The only person to respond-- if you can even call it a response since was a total evasion of the main point-- was Prendergast, who said: "Well, that just goes to show you how much influence the US can have."

Say what?

One of the panelists, whose name I can't recall since he was also late addition and his name doesn't appear on the program, is an American author who has written about the situation in Congo, particularly about the rape as a tactic of war, said at one point that the solution to Congo's ills would come when all those who had entered the country from elsewhere went back to where they came from: if left alone, the fighting would stop and the Congolese could heal their own wounds.

His point was clear, made perfect sense, and should have been taken to heart by the rest of the panel and the attendees. But this type of audience, which always takes itself as an exception, certainly didn't get it; the sense of entitlement to interfere in the business of the world over is just too deep-seated.

And finally, I think the sudden boom of interest in Africa related affairs is clearly rooted in broader political concerns that have nothing to do with the sufferings of the people Africa whatsoever. It will take many more posts to further explore this, but what is issue can for the time being be summed up in one single word: China.

I hope people expose these links, rather than falling for yet another "humanitarian" cover for expanding the powers that be.