The West Wing (1999–2006)
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The Women of Qumar 

CJ cannot control her outrage when the US agrees to an arms sale to Qumar, a country that brutally abuses women. Josh meets with Amy Gardner, a leading women's group lobbyist. The content ... See full summary »

Director:

Alex Graves

Writers:

Aaron Sorkin (created by), Aaron Sorkin (teleplay by) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Rob Lowe ... Sam Seaborn
Stockard Channing ... Abbey Bartlet
Dulé Hill ... Charlie Young
Allison Janney ... C.J. Cregg
Janel Moloney ... Donna Moss
Richard Schiff ... Toby Ziegler
John Spencer ... Leo McGarry
Bradley Whitford ... Josh Lyman
Martin Sheen ... Jed Bartlet
Mary-Louise Parker ... Amy Gardner
Anna Deavere Smith ... Nancy McNally
Christian Clemenson ... Evan Woodkirk, Smithsonian Curator
Dinah Lenney Dinah Lenney ... Mary Klein, Smithsonian Curator
Ty Burrell ... Tom Starks
Bradley White ... James
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Storyline

CJ cannot control her outrage when the US agrees to an arms sale to Qumar, a country that brutally abuses women. Josh meets with Amy Gardner, a leading women's group lobbyist. The content of a Smithsonian exhibit draws protest from a veteran's group. Leo and the President discuss options when the possibility of a Mad Cow infection strikes the US beef industry. Written by Taigan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

TV-14
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 November 2001 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Previously on the West Wing" spoken by Sam (Rob Lowe). See more »

Goofs

While Amy and Josh are arguing about a treaty banning prostitution, Amy states that "the more toothless a treaty is, the more toothless it is". Josh refers to this as a "permeating syllogism"; however, Amy's argument is in fact an example of tautology (making an argument by repeating the premise), not syllogism. See more »

Quotes

C.J. Cregg: They beat women, Nancy. They hate women. The only reason they keep Qumari women alive is to make more Qumari men.
Nancy McNally: So what do you want me to do about it?
C.J. Cregg: How about instead of suggesting that we sell the guns to them, suggesting that we shoot the guns at them? And by the way, not to change the subject, but how are we supposed to have any moral credibility when we talk about gun control and making sure that guns don't get in the hands of the wrong people? God, Nancy! What the hell are we defining ...
[...]
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Soundtracks

West Wing Main Title
(uncredited)
Written by W.G. Snuffy Walden
Performed by Pete Anthony
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User Reviews

 
I'll make it past this episode, grudgingly
5 August 2017 | by bgdinerSee all my reviews

The West Wing is a moralizing, didactic show. Everyone knows this. It's not very realistic, but that's why we love it: it's hopeful about something that inspires so little hope, Washington politics. The characters can sometimes be too certain in the moral supremacy of their policy positions, but that's to be expected in any administration, liberal or conservative. I like the humor and character interactions, and as a centrist (I can still be a centrist in 2017, right?), I'd certainly watch the conservative version of this show.

That said, this episode perturbed me like none in this series has before. CJ is morally outraged at the sale of US arms to a repressive Middle Eastern country with poor women's rights--as CJ says, "they're beating the women." This type of plot is par for the course for the West Wing: a character notices a discrepancy between stated US goals (here, human rights) and reality (selling arms to states with poor human rights), and the episode progresses with the characters trying to resolve this distinction.

Here, though, things felt like a little too ridiculous. Arms sales are controversial, yes. And the way these repressive Middle Eastern countries treat women is anathema to American ideals. But tackling the intermingling of geopolitics and human rights was beyond the potential of this script. Trying to dilute international relations to a categorical imperative-based way of conducting diplomacy is ridiculous. As the national security adviser tells CJ, this country hosts an American base. That should be enough for CJ--a country that allows the forward deployment of the American military, especially in the Middle East, is very valuable to American interests. But CJ is so enraged that she insults some veterans visiting the White House and yells at characters for foreign policy decisions which are way, way beyond their purviews. Her anger is so over-the-top that it really felt like the writers just wanted to win an emmy for character performance, regardless of believability.

I'm no foreign policy expert, but this was just dumb. The way these countries treat women is rooted in centuries of religion and social practice. CJ compares the situation to apartheid in South Africa, which, yes, was successfully resolved due to international pressure. But apartheid was surface-level compared to the institutional history of women in the Middle East. The former was imposed by a minority of whites for about a half century. The latter is much, much more indigenous to the region. The writers really make CJ look naive in this episode.


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