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A Military Solution in Afghanistan Will Fail, says “Real Time Documentary Filmmaker”

By: Daniel Buarque Do G1, em São Paulo Globo

(Translated Internally From Portuguese)

Original Version Here

Robert Greenwald’s project proposes to rethink the whole conflict. The film is being released in real-time and online.

Sending more troops to a chaotic conflict zone might have had an impact in Iraq, but will most likely fail in Afghanistan, according to political activist and documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Different from the Iraq case, where the brewing of a civil war evolved to relative tranquility and more soldiers were sent and stationed there for a couple of years, the situation in Afghanistan requires a distinct approach than that of military engagement, says Greenwald.

Robert Greenwald was in Kabul last week, shooting the third part of his “real-time documentary,” Rethink Afghanistan at the same time that U.S. president Barack Obama, was announcing his new plans to deal with the conflict in that country.

“The people were really worried that the U.S. would continue military action and policies toward Afghanistan. The problem in Afghanistan is not a military one, it is political, ideological, and people want solutions that go beyond the sending of more troops,” says Greenwald, in a telephone interview.

According to him, Afghans are delighted at the election of Obama for President, they are hopeful that the U.S. will help with teachers, hospitals but not with armed people.

Foto: Divulgação

He remains optimist, though. “Obama was elected as a change leader. We witness a No to Vietnam, a No to Iraq and a NO to military options for Afghanistan, since they resolve nothing. An alternative non-military solution would be the real change we expect from the president. He is intelligent and has good advisors, with time we will see the expected change.”

Real Time

The new documentary Project by Greenwald is being done in a revolutionary manner as, real cinema. Instead of doing all at once, doing interviews and editing everything into one single film, he has decided to do the work in parts, and release each chapter as it becomes necessary and in “real time.”

“The documentary is done in real time because we don’t have the luxury to wait for months to raise this issue. A documentary filmmaker usually has to wait until he finishes the whole film, but an activist knows he must act fast. This is why I developed this new way of working, releasing the film in parts which has a greater impact to the national debate.”

You can see the first two part of Rethink Afghanistan on the film’s website both approximately 10-15 minutes. In the first one, Greenwald interviews analysts from both countries and shows, from a historical point of view, that Afghanistan is “a world champion in resisting” foreign invaders and it doesn’t matter the number of soldiers you sent to the country. The second part focuses on neighbor Pakistan, and is identified by the footage and interviews as the focal point of the radicalism and terrorism problem.
The third part will be released in a couple of weeks. It will incorporate footage he compiled in Kabul and will deal with the cost of the war and where this is all going.

Foto: Reuters

According to Greenwald, visiting Afghanistan, like he did last week, leaves the impression that millions of people live in daily danger and in the middle of a true war zone. “The situation in Kabul is definitely dangerous. There are armed people on every corner, barricades mounted all over town, and military tanks moving throughout the city. This is clearly a war zone.”


In spite of opposing publicly Obama’s new plan, Greenwald avoids giving his own solution to how to resolve Afghanistan problems because his main objective is to create the debate.

“Is not only because the policy is mistaken, but there are important questions that must be raised an answered about the conflict and that we must begin to address . This will lead us to a complex but substantive discussion of how we can help the country and bring real security at home and abroad. I don’t expect to be able to answer these questions because our role is to raise these issues, so that real specialists can discuss and come to a conclusion accordingly.”

According to him, the idea to send 4,000 more soldiers (on top of the 17,000 already committed) to train the Afghan army is interesting but must yield strong results quickly. “Obviously it is preferable for Afghanistan to use its own army instead of a foreign one. The problem is that this will take a long time and we need a satisfactory result today.”