I am tired today. And the reason why I am tired is that I stayed up late watching a movie called Fair Game, starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn (just got to love Sean Penn – he is brilliant, no matter what role he plays). Both are such excellent actors and the story – a true story – was gripping and provocative. And while I do not understand all the politics behind it, I get that she was betrayed by her government and the trauma she went through, and the strain it put on her and her marriage must have felt insurmountable. I can’t comment on the politics of the movie, except to say that we now know that there were never any weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq or under Saddam Hussein’s regime. Whether political America used that as an excuse to get in as reckoning for 09/11, who knows? I don’t have the answer – I can venture an educated guess on all the conspiracy theories I’ve read, movies I’ve seen that this was the case, but I am by no means proficient in the area of American politics, or politics across the globe.
The movie is about Valerie Plame, who is employed by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The only people in her life who are aware of this fact are her husband and her parents. She is a spy – as in proper 007, covert operations, traveling to far and distant lands, speaking strange languages – a spy (there is a part of me that thinks spies are only the stuff made of in movies – like James Bond 007 or Mission Impossible). But, Valerie Plame did all that in real life – putting her life on the line for her country.
“She is an intelligence officer involved in a number of sensitive and sometimes dangerous covert operations overseas”
Her husband, Joseph C. Wilson (Joe), on the other hand was a diplomat. Who also served overseas and served in Gabon. The CIA chose to use Joe, because of his diplomatic experience and contacts in Niger, to travel to Niger and gather information as to whether yellowcake uranium is being bought by Iraq to build nuclear weapons (or Weapons of Mass Destruction). Joes determines to his own satisfaction that it is not.
Military action is then taken by George W. Bush, who justified it in a 2003 State of the Union address by alluding to the uranium’s use in building weapons of mass destruction. Joe writes a an article to The New York Times, claiming these reports to be emphatically untrue.
As retribution to this article written by Joe, Valerie’s status as a CIA operative is “leaked” to the media, possibly coming from White House officials, including the Vice President’s chief of staff and national security adviser, Scooter Libby. This was done primarily to discredit Joe’s allegation that the Bush administration had manipulated CIA intelligence to justify invading Iraq. This results in Valerie being dismissed from the agency. Obviously, being a real spy, this left widespread repercussions for various parties or individuals that Valerie was working with.
The pressure and stress felt at the betrayal and the loss of her job causes Valerie to leave Joe and stay with her parents. She is, understandably, angered at Joe granting television and print interviews, as this exposes them and their children to public outcry and threats. And here is my favourite part in the movie (paraphrased), Valerie goes outside to where her Dad is playing with the children and says to him, “Dad, I think my marriage is over.” He looks at her and says, “Seems I’ve heard that before – when your mother and I moved around and I was in the air force. We lived in more than 20 different places in 25 years. Seems I didn’t know what a home was until I retired.”
In the next scene, you see her at home, with Joe, and she says (paraphrased), “they can take away my job, my home, my country – I don’t care about any of that, but they can’t take away my marriage, because that I do care about.”
And that was the best part, because a part of me wondered if we all fought for our marriages to survive, no matter what the odds, what would the divorce rate be like? Here and across the globe? I’m not naïve, and I know that circumstances and situations get so that often we cannot control how things turn out, and in fact, I do believe that the whole world is setup to make marriages NOT work – just look at the messages we get in the media about it being okay to be on your fourth or fifth spouse (my brother is now married to his third wife), to have affairs, commit adultery – do what you want, it’s okay. But, what if we made marriage and our relationship to our spouse our number one priority? What if we starting thinking that they can take everything away, but not our marriage. Would my mom be going onto her third (in all probability) marriage if she started her first marriage thinking about how she wanted this to work, and not how she wanted to get out of it. How different everything would be.
Does city life break marriage?
A different set of UN statistics, taken from their demographic year book compares divorce rates in urban and rural areas for selected countries and found considerable differences between the two.
In Cuba for example, urban divorce rates varied between 3.6% and 4% between 2007 and 2010 – but in rural areas the divorce rate stayed the same, at just 0.8%. In 2010, Egypt’s urban divorce rate was 2.5% but its rural divorce rate was 1.4%. In fact, similar discrepancies can be seen almost everywhere that data is available from Panama and Mexico to Finland and Switzerland.
Another key consideration is looking at marriage rates. If countries do not have cultural or legal traditions of marriage, that may artificially bring down divorce. This UN data only provides the following categories ‘married’, ‘divorced’, ‘widowed’ and ‘single’ – meaning that plenty of individuals in happy relationships may not be counted as they should.
Just a thought…