The Island President

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Recommended by Charles Mudede

Before watching Jon Shenk's The Island President, Google “Maldives” and read the latest news reports about that small nation: “Maldives, hailed as democracy poster child, turns to Islamist fundamentalism” (The Christian Science Monitor); “Maldives ousted president appeals for global help to bring early elections” (New York Daily News); “Maldives' Ex-President Calls for International Sanctions” (Voice of America). In 2008, Mohamed Nasheed, the hero and victim of Shenk’s documentary, ended the 30-year rule of a brutal dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, by easily winning the presidential election. Three years later, the army removed Nasheed from power and replaced him with politicians directly and indirectly linked to Gayoom. The political confusion that the coup d'état plunged the Maldives into has its winners and losers. The winners are China, India, and the United States; the losers are nations like the Maldives (island nations), environmentalists, and humans as a whole. Now we get to the matter of the documentary: global warming. After taking power, Nasheed became an important figure regarding this issue because, one, he is a humanist, and, two, his country (the lowest country on our planet) is immediately threatened by rising sea levels. During the 2009 UN climate talks in Copenhagen (the doc begins and ends with this conference), Nasheed fought very hard and loudly for an international treaty that would require countries to really (not slightly) reduce CO2 emissions. Nasheed did not win this fight, but he did make a lot of enemies in the most powerful countries in the world. China, India, and the US made it clear to Nasheed that they will not comply with anything that gets in the way of what their masters, the global elite, want: economic growth. What this doc ultimately reveals? The global elite permitted Nasheed to challenge and defeat his country’s aging dictator; but it would not permit him to challenge the current international market system.

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