Angelina gets more attention than military experts at Iraq policy event

Angelina Jolie caused a media circus at a recent Iraq Policy event in Washington, DC. The controversial (at least at this site) actress appeared on a discussion panel to urge the increase of humanitarian aid to the country and to encourage the U.S. government to make good on its commitment to absorb a greater number of Iraqi refugees. The ballroom where the discussion happened was standing room only, and many attendees admitted that they probably wouldn’t have shown up to the event if Jolie hadn’t been there.

Angelina Jolie nearly stole the limelight from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker yesterday with her own remarks on Iraq at the Council on Foreign Relations, which had to move the standing-room-only event to the ballroom of the Washington Club to accommodate the crowd and television cameras. Paparazzi and gawkers swarmed outside.

The actress’s appearance on a panel discussing the plight of more than 1 million Iraqi child refugees was less upbeat than that of the U.S. officials who testified before two Senate committees yesterday.

“This population we’re talking about is the future of Iraq,” said Jolie, who has traveled twice to Iraq over the past year, as well as to Syria to visit Iraqi refugees. “So to reach them now, to help deal with their trauma and refocus their minds on a possible future should absolutely be one of our top priorities. We need these kids. . . . We need them to rebuild their country, to stabilize their country and eventually lead their country.”

…Jolie gently scolded the Bush administration for its slow follow-through on absorbing Iraqi refugees. The United States took in 374 Iraqis in January, 444 in February and 751 in March — in a year in which it has pledged to take in 12,000 Iraqi refugees, she noted.

…James Gavrilis, who is on the Joint Chiefs staff at the Pentagon, said he would not have come by if not for Jolie. “I want to hear what her perspective is and how it’s different from the military and masculine perspective,” he said, quickly adding that, as an insider at the Pentagon, he already knew what Petraeus and Crocker would say in their testimony.

[From The Washington Post]

I don’t know how to feel about this. I’m sure Jolie is about to be bashed for this all day here at Celebitchy, but if anyone deserves bashing, it’s the American public at large for not giving a crap about this issue until a celebrity shows up to talk about it. Even Pentagon officials are admitting to being celeb gawkers. It’s really embarrassing. Jolie does bring up a good point that nobody in the Bush administration is talking about anymore, and that’s winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Remember when that was every other sentence out of W.’s mouth four years ago- remember his plea to every school kid in America to send money and care packages to Iraqi kids? Whatever happened to that? It looks like “hearts and minds” took a backseat to other agendas, and as a result, you have celebs like Jolie making humanitarian visits and using their media status to get this issue back in the papers again.

Header image is of Angelina at the Vital Voices awards ceremony yesterday via The Washington Post.


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38 Responses to “Angelina gets more attention than military experts at Iraq policy event”

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  1. Jess says:

    Good for Angelina! She’s using her (undoubtedly overblown) celebrity power for good – raising awareness about a very important issue. These poor Iraqi children do deserve our attention and our care and it’s apparently left to Angelina to make this point. Thank goodness she’s doing it – apparently no one else in a position of power will speak up for the littlest victims of this war.

  2. geronimo says:

    “it’s apparently left to Angelina to make this point.”

    Jess, no offence, but please tell me you’re not seriously suggesting that this is where people take their lead from? American people? Not an anti-Ange post but my mouth is hanging open at the thought.

  3. Scott F. says:

    This is why celebrities shouldn’t run their mouth about politics, because they don’t know enough about what’s really going on. Seriously, it’s obvious she knows no more than what most people can gather by checking the AP wire every day.

    The reason we’re not trying to push the refugee issue is because it’s not helping the ‘hearts and mind’ battle, it’s hurting it! Muslim extremists are circulating propaganda telling the Iraqi’s that the US (and of course the Jews) are trying to steal their children away to our country so we can brainwash them against Islam.

    Besides, it doesn’t help the situation if we just move them all over here. We need to help those kids in their own country, through increased aid and encouraging the UN to grow a pair of balls and returning to help. They don’t mind helping in African war zones every day, funny how Iraq is different.

  4. ? says:

    I agree that it is a worthy cause and anyone who brings attention to it should be commended – but please! This country needs to read and get active. Celebs are given far too much power and access to public office. It’s a national embarassment that a celebrity can command this kind of interest. Angelina Jolie is a wonderful advocate for the UN – but she is not an expert on what is going on in Iraq. When we will as a population take our heads out of our asses and partake in the polical process?

  5. Bodhi says:

    I completely agree that the Iraqis need help in their own country and they need to figure out how to do it themselves. However, many Iraqis who helped the US during and after the invasion need to get out of the country or face certain death from the extremists. Those people should be short-listed to get into the US

  6. Scott F. says:

    Bodhi – You’re absolutely right, but for the most part they’re already being expedited. I personally lost three translators over the course of one year to immigration. You’re right though, we owe it to every one of them for sticking their neck out for us and their own countrymen.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The same special treatment should be given to people who help allied forces in afganistan as well, or any where else in the world were people risk their lives to help the american government politically. Most likly what angelina is suggesting will never happen anyways. The wars in afganistan and iraq are long from over, i just hope that some day the goverments of both countries can get to some level of self sufficiency and provide some sort of society for the people in which war is not a constant threat.

  8. KateNonymous says:

    I’m just enjoying the dating site spam.

    In the meantime, though, there are so many things wrong with the way we handle celebrities and serious issues. Sure, celebrities can get more attention for a cause. That doesn’t mean that we should rely on them for information. Being famous, in and of itself, doesn’t make you qualified to be an expert on anything but your own fame. It certainly doesn’t make your opinions better informed than anyone else’s, or make you more qualified than the average person to make policy recommendations.

    I’m not knocking Angelina’s work for the UN, but how is she a military expert?

  9. Mairead says:

    I’m glad to see that (as yet) the Angie-bashing isn’t detracting from the main issues (it’ll probably come later)- refugeeism both without and within Iraq, and the shameful lack of appreciation the average punter both in America and Europe shows to the magnitude of the problems. (With respect Scott, Africa and the Middle East are quite different problems – and simply a democratic vote within the UN was taken to stay out of Iraq – the rights and wrongs of that approach can be debated, we all know it isn’t that simple, due to the vested interests of some of the largest voting blocks – namely Russia and China)

    Its a reflection of Western society in general, that while people are generally aware of the problem, they feel powerless to make a difference – either that or trying to feed a modern lifestyle of overpriced homes, services and childcare they have to work all the hours God sends, leaving very little time or inclination to pay attention to anything outside of their immediate bubbles.

    So whilst no organisation likes it, they know that the only way of ensuring it gets decent coverage in the news media is to have a “face” to go with it. And as someone who has organised public meetings for local government, there is nothing more disheartening than tumbleweed rolling through a conference hall.

    I would like to point out to all that it is highly unlikely that Angelina, or indeed any celebrity speaker, addresses a public meeting of that nature, without either
    (a) being given an approved and specific brief to talk about, or
    (b)their speech being reviewed by the organisers. This is to ensure nothing too moronic, out of date or out of synch with current theory or practice.

    It is insulting to assume that seasoned organisers are going to be so starstruck that they blow protocol out of the water, and allow non-expert speakers to simply blather at will.

  10. journey says:

    ange has never claimed to be a military expert. and when she travels on humanitarian fact-finding missions she stresses that she is there to learn. which does give more weight to her opinion than that of couch potatoes who’ve never ventured to go to these places and talk to the people there. but who then like to sit on their duffs while complaining about anyone who does try to get involved. “shame on ange for daring to travel and try to learn something and then shame on her for daring to try to share her experiences with anyone else. shame shame on her, why isn’t she sitting at home in an l.a. mansion, in front of the mirror admiring her great beauty to the exclusion of all else.”

    sorry for the long-winded rant, but it amazes me that people vilify her for trying to step out of her hollywood box, and not just see the world, but share her experiences with others.

  11. Atticus says:

    Angelina Jolie is probably one of the most informed celebrites out there. She’s been with the UN for years and has been traveling, studying and speaking up about the issues for years. She’s been published. I agree with Mairead that seasoned organizers wouldn’t let anyone in who wasn’t informed about the subject matter. A good portion of the American public DOES get their info from and follow the cues of celebrities, rather than informing themselves. At least Angelina informs herself before speaking up, and she clearly can make a difference as far as raising awareness so more power to her.

  12. Kolby says:

    I agree that she probably knows far more about the humanitarian issues in Iraq than most Americans, most likely because she’s able to witness firsthand what’s going on, opposed to how the rest of us get our news – through filtered media outlets. I take her accounts and opinions on the subject very seriously, because she is far closer to being an expert on this subject than people are giving her credit for. She’s not claiming to be a military expert – that’s not her concern.

  13. Jess says:

    Geronimo, I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I didn’t say that we should take our lead from Angelina. And I agree with those that say that celebs have too much power these days (see the parens in my first paragraph). I’m just saying that I have not heard anyone else (anyone else with the power to make the media take note, anyway) making this point about our responsibility to the Iraqi children – so I’m glad she is. Somebody should be raising the point that we need to address what’s going to happen to the Iraqi children (how exactly to address this situation is obviously tricky, but it is an issue that must be addressed) and apparently it’s been left to Angelina to do so. And, again, when I say “somebody,” I mean somebody with the pull to get the media to focus on the issue.

  14. countrybabe says:

    I think the UN needs to send her to another assignment. Ihe Iraq issue is very sensitive. Most Americans think there is too much money spent there already. It seems to me like another attention seeking move on her part. Don’t agree that she knows more than the average American about anything. Those of us with degrees are educated beyond her capabilities

  15. geronimo says:

    Jess – sure, I get your point. I’m not American and I and most people I know would find it very odd indeed that the only person with suficient clout to bring this issue back into the mainstream would be someone like AJ. I’m not questioning the value of celebrity intervention (it’s how it works today) but I would question the idea that the nudge to take action must come from a celebrity in order for most people to take notice. But I see, in effect, that that’s more or less what you’re saying so we’re in agreement!

  16. KateNonymous says:

    As I said, I’m not disputing Angelina Jolie’s contributions, and I do think she’s informed. But the fact that people are paying attention solely because she’s there? We should do better than that.

  17. Bodhi says:

    Um, no one paid her to come and speak. And she didn’t just wake up & decide that she was going to go speak to Council on Foreign Relations, you kinda have to be invited to do things like that.

    I have a degree too & I’m the first to admit that she knows more than I do about the plight of refugees all over the world, not just in Iraq. Just because people don’t have pieces of paper from an institute of higher learning doesn’t mean that they are dumb or have nothing to contribute

  18. Mairead says:

    It’s not a pre-requisite of most degrees to bone-up on World affairs on a regular basis countrybabe. Whilst a level of higher-eduation “may” enable a person to be more discerning in believeing in what they read, it doesn’t automatically make them any more inclined to find out about things within their sphere of reference.

    And it certainly means that those who simply haven’t gone onto higher education as yet cannot grasp the fundamentals of the issues (I’m sure that’s not exactly what you’re intending, but it really does read that way)

    If it was the case that all university graduates had an innate grasp of national and world politics (and didn’t decry them as “boring”) it could also be argued that the same world view would be instilled into them regarding culture and heritage. Now, if THAT was the case then people like me wouldn’t have to do a damned thing to raise awareness and put together programmes on culture, heritage or the natural environment.

  19. AC says:

    i saw good for her.

    If we want to prevent terrorism… maybe reach out to the kids that will grow up hating america- and probably with some good reason- because of how they had to grow up … and reach them before the extreemests do. If it takes a celebrity to reach this message to a wider audience than so be it.

  20. judi says:

    I agree its a great cause, and people in power should pay more attention..but is Angelina really going to get thier attention? The only reason so many people showed up, is to see her extended belly. And I read on another site, that James Haven was in DC…so maybe a little family reunion is in the works..we all know how much James love Angelina…

  21. Enonymous says:

    Scott F. I totally agree with you.

  22. minx says:

    as far as Angelina not being an expert, may I remind everyone that so-called “experts” also told the American public that Iraq had WMDs and that the American Army will be greated as liberators, the whole thing will be over in 6 weeks, we don’t need so many troops and so forth and so on…
    I see that judi graces us again with her presence, classy as always.

  23. Sasha says:

    Unfortunately KateNonymous, the press has us nearly completely trained to only pay attention to issues the pretty people care about.

  24. Fee says:

    Well at least she is trying to use her celebrity for the greater good – not like all the other usless twats out there – Lindsay, Paris, Britney & co…..

  25. Fee says:

    hahahaha wouldnt you hate to be the other women in the pic with her but – thinking to yourself “Shit yeah, I look fierce tonight, Ive got my best dress on and had my hair done…oh fuck, do i really have to stand next to her for a photo?”

  26. HB says:

    The scary part is one day Ms Angelina Jolie will run for senator, and those posters on this site will vote for her.

    PS. Isn’t that her supposedly “best” friend Mrs Pearle next to her? She looks much better than Jolie.

  27. Bodhi says:

    And in what state would she run? Cause I’ll bet it won’t be SC where I live. AJ & MP have been very close for years; I doubt either one gives two shits about who lookes better

  28. headache says:

    I do like that Angelina has been able to separate the plight of Iraqi children and refugees from the war itself. Here in america, we’ve managed to separate the troops from the politics of war but not the Iraqi people.

    She’s not advocating or condemning the war but wisely pointing out that regardless of whether you think the Iraqis need our help politically or militarily, they most certainly need our help on a humanitarian level.

  29. Dee says:

    I believe she is genuine though. She and her man friend, Pitt, (baby daddy) are doing many great things for the impoverished and those without voices. I guess we need to allow them to live down whatever negativity was associated with them. Doesn’t she look like Padma L. from Top Chef in this photo. The Government spends billions in money on fruit flie research, and lobster research, etc. while many don’t have drinking water, housing, etc. SO DAMN DISGUSTING. SHAME ON THEM THEY WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

  30. Ticia says:

    what is she doing in Iraq, a very dangerous place, WHILE PREGNANT!!!

  31. countrybabe says:

    Most of you who say you have degrees and think she knows more than you do either have low self esteem, or I don’t beleive you really have a degree. I doubt this woman even has high school she left home and started modeling at 16. I’ve never read anywhere that it said she graduated from high school.I taught GED students for a while, and most of them can talk people into doing anything, but when it comes to certain point they can’t reason and get lost in the conversation. Most of these people in Washingon have several degrees. Don’t kid yourselves. You may say they haven’t done anthing, but she hasn’t done anything either, but talk to people.

  32. Mairead says:

    Countrybabe – personally I don’t give a two figs whether you believe I have a primary degree or indeed, a post-graduate qualification. Your beliefs aren’t going to change the educational past of any commentator here so it’s completely irrelevant.

    What I do find annoying is that you are trying to manipulate what I and others are saying. I said that a degree doesn’t make one automatically aware of world politics – especially as it is the same news media that’s available to all.

    And I had to scratch my head as to what possible relevance any of our self-esteem has to do with world politcs or Iraq policy?

    I wholly however agree (and I said this in my first reply to you but didn’t elaborate) that having a degree does develop the skills to analyse the information given and observed, and draw logical informed conculsions from the data. It is something that is learnt and developed best over a course of study and a skill-set that can be applied to many aspects of personal and professional life.

    The fact that Angelina (and most of Hollywood) doesn’t have a higher level of education is, I’m sure, unhelpful when dealing with political and social issues. However, given that AJ is regularly invited to attend, and speak, at such events shows that she must have good advisors to help her get a steady grasp of the facts.

    Again, I repeat, NO self-respecting organiser is going to invite a speaker who is in danger of spouting incorrect facts and make a fool of themselves and the conference.

  33. KK says:

    Good for her if sh esucceeds in helping. She looks very sad though. Something in her eyes does not seem as happy as she should be since she has a family she dreamed off.

    I am never one to believe in celebrity intervention. After years of Bono and Geldof campaigning for Africa, it is poorer than ever.

    Angelina recented made an effort to raise awareness for refugees who were forgotten once she left.

    I find it pathetic actually that real world issues are reduced to farcical shows where th ecelebrity just gets more press time.

  34. Maidae says:

    You guys are ridiculous. I like how you rip on her for doing something good with her time, money and status. If someone were to attack me the way you mongers attack her for what I do and what I believe in, I would tell you what a worthless piece of crap you are (I’ve done it in the past, so I’m not just “saying” I would), however- she simply ignores the countless attacks on her character and her past and continues to work harder than ever on the issues she feels are important, issues that are ridiculously ignored by the government and the public.
    She has written op-ed pieces, made films, supported other organizations and donated MILLIONS of her dollars.
    I can’t STAND IT when people put other people down who are trying to make the world a better place! I have to stop right now because this is actually making me a bit more upset than it really justifies. I’ll pray for you.

  35. Mairead says:

    KK, your point regarding Bono and Bob Geldof (and not to mention Midge Ure who started the whole thing) is a valid one, but I think a little simplistic. I know you know this, but, Africa is a huge continent with many different countries and peoples with varing amounts of natural resources – so it’s obvious that a quick universal solution is never going to be found. It doesn’t mean that we should all just stop trying though.

    For those countries that are ruled by a military junta or crippling dictators (e.g. Mugabe) simply cancelling debt is going to do little; but a concerted effort by the Western leaders to influence them and impose sanctions where necesscary could work wonders.

    For others, which have been devastated through wars of independence and civil wars – the monies to be paid back to the world bank are huge and must be taken out of the coffers each year leaving little for developing infrastructure without further loans.

    And just to clarify, the Cancel Third World Debt campaign was more than just Africa, it included Bangladesh and a number of countries in South-east Asia.

  36. Lenny says:

    At least all this charity has raised her profile and her image. In turn she is now more demanded in hollywood. I doubt though that will last long for this sadly has not improved her dismal box office performance.

  37. bros says:

    I love Mairead’s intelligent and cogent responses, and patience to respond to the most useless ignorant blather and try and to set the record straight. you go mairead!

  38. Slappy says:

    Just as a little reminder of amazingly hot Angelina Joie really is… check out my gallery of pics / fotos of her at: