Thursday, October 14, 2010

Winter in Baghdad

I am passionate about books or movies introducing elements or fragments of the international affairs. Despite the high occurrence of disinformation or of literary re-interpretation of facts, being able to read with a clear mind allows me to understand the mental world we are living in. An useful exercise of X-Ray the history of mentalities.

About the war in Iraq I watched several movies and read a couple of novels. The same predominant pattern and messages: the war is wrong, because of the "invasion" people were left in the streets, killed, arrested, the generalized violence is the daily life of the Iraqi people desperately fighting to live from a day to another.

I never been to Iraq, but it is not hard to understand that the situation is not a bed of roses and, definitely, people are facing a daily violence and lack of proper institutions to defend them against the abuses. It is outrageous, of course.

But we have to take into account that it is not a completely new situation for the people in Iraq. "Before", when Saddam Hussein was still alive and in power, he used to control everything, via a corrupt and repressive system. Who dared to express against the regime, was killed, and we, the Western European were hardly aware of the situation. In any case, I never saw any mass demonstration against Saddam Hussein at the size of the anti-war demonstration in Europe after Saddam was out.

The movie Invierno in Bagdad/Winter in Baghdad is presented as a documentary, describing the life "under occupation", through the eyes of people living in the city, mostly children and women. What new information are you acquiring after the movie is over? Almost nothing, except how to do not make a movie introduced as documentary. Beyond the anti-American and anti-war messages, too common these days, I was surprised by the lack of any curiosity from the part of the film director. The movie it is not intended to show us something different about Iraq - as for example, why there are so many children under 11 supporting their parents by working in the street, where are their parents - but to reassert usual stereotypes. And I was disappointed to waste my time watching people talking about what they expect about democracy when in a bar, without being asked where they were when Saddam was killing people. Or, the Western "emissaries" of peace, why they didn't try to protest the constant violations of human rights during the former dictatorial regime. There are used the powerful strong images common to illustrate the situation from the Middle East, with crying and shoot to death. And, in fact, it is very sad and unhelpful that so many children are victims of conflicts.

Of course, there were mistakes and the war is not a way to solve a problem. And, of course, there were many tactical and strategical mistakes, following a precarious cultural knowledge of the country and of the region. People from Iraq, as some of them are outlining, went through a number of wars in the last decades and it is very difficult to see a clear future when you are used to fight for survival from a day to another. And this situation reflects to the way in which Iraqis are getting involved or not in their political institutions, with limited investment of time and resources, as long as you are not sure when the situation will change and in what direction. And people continue do die.

For the moment, the situation in Iraq remains unclear and tormented by violence. A never ending violence. It is what we read in the news every time when we type the word "Iraq" on the web. But the future relies on going out of this stereotypical and self-complaining situation and daring to wish more for yourself and your family. With more education, open mind and courage to face narrow-minded perspective. From this point of view, the movie must encourage those who are thinking differently, and beyond the black-and-white narrative, to outline what is different.

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