The Pamphleteer

During colonial times in America, if you wanted to convince or inform people about some issue that you considered important, you went to the local printer and got some pamphlets printed. You then handed them out, read them to anybody that was interested, nailed them to the town bulletin board, or the nearest tree. The first amendment was specifically written to protect this type of activity and the writers or "pamphleteers".

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Sunday, September 25, 2005
Ron Silver's New Anti-U.N. Documentary


The Los Angeles Times featured an article this week about Ron Silver's new documentary on the U.N., "Broken Promises." We've now had the chance to see this extraordinary account of the U.N.'s many failures, particularly
throughout the 1990s.

The film first takes audiences through a brief, encapsulated history of the U.N. as it arose from the ashes of two World Wars. The film revisits the heady days of the immediate post-World War II years when it appeared that
international cooperation could head off major global conflicts, prevent wars, or mediate local strife. "Broken Promises" identifies this as the enormous promise or potential of the U.N. - a potential that has never yet
been realized.

The film identifies a tendency - exemplified by the U.N.'s early handling of clashes over Kashmir, and over the founding of Israel - to conflate aggressors with their victims. This studied 'neutrality' of the U.N. - really a mask for its own weakness or lack of resolve - carried over for decades into later humanitarian disasters in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia/Serbia.

Particularly chilling are the film's first-hand accounts from those who experienced the Rwandan and Bosnian/Serbian massacres firsthand, and accounts from U.N. aid workers who were themselves betrayed by higher-ups.

What one gleans from these extraordinary interviews is the scale of the problem with the U.N. - the immensity of its incompetence and corruption.

One U.N. translator, for example, describes how Dutch U.N. 'peacekeepers' in Srebrenica knowingly delivered his own family to slaughter at the hands of the Serbs in a moment that recalled Jews being packed into box-cars for
shipment to Nazi death camps. The look of betrayal on this poor man's face is almost too much to bear.

"Broken Promises" is an absorbing, enlightening, and infuriating documentary that has the potential to alter the debate about the U.N. as it reaches its 60th anniversary. Many of the people who participated in the documentary
were the crucial U.N. operatives on the ground during some of the U.N.'s most notorious humanitarian catastrophes. Their experiences are difficult to 'refute' in the glib, off-handed manner so many liberals dismiss criticism
of the U.N.

To listen to refugee Eugenie Mukeshimana, for example, talk about the relatives she lost during the Hutu killing spree in Rwanda is nothing short of heart-wrenching. More than that, it's something like a glimpse of hell on earth. Why did the U.N. do nothing? Why were Canadian General Romeo Dallaire's warnings ignored (he's also interviewed in the film)?

These questions only hint at the vast and systemic failures of the U.N. - the institution many still believe was more 'competent' to handle the threat of Saddam Hussein than was the U.S. military. will be hosting the L.A. premiere of "Broken Promises" during the Liberty Film Festival this October 21-23, and we look forward to more such documentaries from Ron Silver and producer Dave Bossie (Citizens United) in the future.