Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards, a vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, attended the premiere of the anti-war film, “Rethink Afghanistan” in Washington last night. In remarks afterward, Edwards quoted a House colleague, whom she did not identify, saying anti-war Democrats must work to rescue President Obama from his commitment to escalate the war in Afghanistan. “As one of my colleagues, who shall remain unnamed, said, ‘Indeed, we may have to save this president from himself on Afghanistan,’” Edwards told the audience. “I take that really seriously.”
Edwards said she believes Obama is “capable of setting aside this language of a campaign” as he decides U.S. policy in Afghanistan. “Even though we talked about Afghanistan as sort of the good war, there is no good in that war,” Edwards said. “We have to be vocal and insistent on this administration and this Congress not to fall prey to the language of the good war.”
“Rethink Afghanistan” is the work of left-wing documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Featuring commentary by war critics Juan Cole, Robert Baer, and others, the movie calls for the U.S. military offensive in Afghanistan to be replaced by a large-scale humanitarian effort. Rep. Alan Grayson, the self-styled “Democrat with guts” whom MSNBC host Ed Schultz recently dubbed “the new hero on the lefty block,” also attended the showing.
In an interview after the film, Edwards expanded on her remarks. “I think it’s clear just reading the headlines, that the president is getting some advice and push to escalate the war in Afghanistan,” she said. “I don’t want to push the president toward any particular decision, but I’m concerned that in fact there are some who would choose to push him toward an escalation, and I want him to have the opportunity to step back, make a full assessment, and then give a rationale to the American people about why we’re still in Afghanistan and what the strategy is going forward.”
If Obama ultimately decides to send more troops to Afghanistan, Edwards suggested that a large number of majority Democrats will abandon him when it comes time to vote for extended funding of the war. “In order to go forward to continue the funding,” she said, “it is going to be largely, I think, a Republican vote that would stand with the president, if that’s the decision that he makes.”
The left-wing filmmaker behind a documentary that questions U.S. policy in Afghanistan says he “took a lot of grief” and lost progressive donors when he began making the movie “Rethink Afghanistan.”
Robert Greenwald’s latest effort criticizes the U.S.’s current approach to the war in Afghanistan, even if it tarnishes the image of Pres. Barack Obama by association. Greenwald says his intent with the film is to get people talking about the Afghan war and questioning U.S. policy there, which made some progressives angry in the early days of the Obama administration.
“When we started doing it, we took a lot of grief, we lost funders, people were mad at us,” Greenwald said in a phone interview with Raw Story. “It was at a time when there was this notion that anything the Obama administration did you were not supposed to question.”
Greenwald has a petition on the movie’s website that calls on Congress to debate “civilian alternatives to a failed military-based approach to bringing peace and security to the region.” He told Raw Story he was prompted to make the movie after a recent trip through Vietnam when he noticed parallels between the Afghan war and the Vietnam war.
“I started thinking, literally, you could cross out Kennedy and replace it with Obama, and cross out communism and replace it with a fear of terrorism,” Greenwald told Raw Story.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine, a subsidiary of WellPoint, the nation’s largest insurer, wanted the state to approve an average rate hike of 18.5 percent on its policyholders. Maine rejected the increase and now the insurer is fighting for the hike in court.
Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films is taking aim at Anthem’s rate reach in the latest installment of his “Sick for Profit” series. The video, posted below, is a slick pitch for pitchfork-style outrage. It notes how much WellPoint pays its CEO ($9.8 million) and how much of its policyholders’ premiums it spends on lobbying ($9,529,747). WellPoint’s subsidiary in Maine says it needs the rate increase to guarantee a 3 percent profit margin.
“The only justification for this lawsuit is just pure greed,” says Ali Vander-Zanden of the Maine People’s Alliance in the video.
And the Maine attorney general’s office seems to buttress that argument — in a Sept. 23 filing, in response to the insurer’s claim that raising premiums is necessary for the financial health of the company, the AG says Anthem is perfectly profitable.
Perhaps more than any other major corporate news outlet, The New York Times played a central role in promoting the Bush administration’s fraudulent case for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The “reporting” of Judith Miller and Michael Gordon basically served as a front-page fiction laundering factory for Dick Cheney’s fantasy of a “mushroom cloud” threat from Saddam Hussein looming on the immediate horizon, topped off with a celebratory slice of yellowcake. More recently, the paper’s propagandists, William Broad and David Sanger, have aimed their sights on reporting dubious claims about Iran’s nuclear program.
Readers of the Times, therefore, should take with a huge grain of weaponized salt the paper’s “review” of Robert Greenwald’s new documentary, Rethink Afghanistan. With no sense of the painful irony of writing such jibberish in the Times, reviewer Andy Webster declares that the film could “use balance, something in short supply here:”
At an almost breathless pace that leaves little room for reflection, Mr. Greenwald presents a flurry of sights, voices and figures, many of them compelling but all reflecting his point of view. A historical summary is fleeting. What appears, again and again, are terrifying images of children: dead, hideously maimed or, in one instance, almost put up for sale by a frantic civilian in a refugee camp. Military engagements, it seems, are messy and claim innocent lives.
If it takes Greenwald’s “point of view” to see the human costs of the U.S. war in Afghanistan in the form of deformed, maimed and dead civilians, then his film should be required viewing for anyone purporting to support the war.
President Obama, who is under pressure from the Pentagon and defense contractors to surge 40,000 additional U.S. troops into occupied Afghanistan, will meet Tuesday with members of Congress to discuss the sorry state of the mission and its uncertain future.
That’s the good news — sort of.
At least the president is talking to the civilian leaders who, according to the U.S. Constitution, are supposed to be making decisions about whether to engage in and escalate wars.
The bad news is that the president and Vice President Joe Biden (who is reportedly skeptical about expanding the occupation force) are not planning to meet with members of Congress who have studied the conflict and determined that it is time to develop a flexible exit strategy.
This past weekend, AlterNet had the privilege of hosting a screening of Robert Greenwald’s important new documentary, Rethink Afghanistan, in New York City. It was just one of several screenings to kick off an impressive nationwide campaign by Brave New Films to spread a crucial message about the war in Afghanistan: This is not the “good war” as we have been told by so many for so long. This is a losing battle, and it is costing us dearly: in billions of dollars, in thousands of lives, and in the eyes of the rest of the world.
And of course, it is costing the people of Afghanistan more than anyone. Perhaps one of the most jolting things about watching the film is seeing image after terrible image of civilian suffering: desperate families mired in refugee camps, pain-stricken schoolgirls attacked with acid by the resurgent Taliban, countless injured men, women and children who are the collatoral damage from errant U.S. bomb strikes. It is a punch-to-the-gut reminder of just how sanitized this war — which Obama has always called the “right front” of the so-called war on terror — has been.
Of course, if you’re the New York Times, these very images, which have the power to awaken people to the human cost of war, are actually proof of a slanted agenda on the part of the filmmaker. “At an almost breathless pace that leaves little room for reflection, Mr. Greenwald presents a flurry of sights, voices and figures, many of them compelling but all reflecting his point of view,” writes NYT film reviewer Andy Webster in a dismissive 250-word review today.
As the eighth anniversary of the US-led bombing of Afghanistan draws closer, the Obama administration continues to debate the best way to fight this ongoing war. Senate Democrats voted Thursday to delay a congressional briefing by General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, a NATO air strike on a compound in southern Afghanistan has reportedly killed a family of six. As the civilian death toll in Afghanistan continues to rise, we turn now to an excerpt from a new documentary by filmmaker Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films. It’s called Rethink Afghanistan and premieres today in New York.
MoveOn.org, the progressive grassroots action group with five million members, today emailed their supporters to urge them to host a screening of Brave New Foundation’s “Rethink Afghanistan” film. BNF calls the film “a great way to start a dialogue that will help build the movement to end the war.” From the email, which I can’t seem to find on MoveOn’s site:
In the face of a coming request for thousands more troops for Afghanistan, President Obama and his advisers are reassessing their strategy in Washington. And in living rooms across the country, Americans of all stripes are beginning to raise serious questions of their own. We’re all grappling with how to end the war as quickly and responsibly as possible.
That’s why we’re partnering with Brave New Foundation on their new film, Rethink Afghanistan. It’s an incisive and powerful documentary that provides an important perspective for the ongoing debate.
The email goes on to ask supporters if they’d be interested in hosting screenings of the film between Oct. 7 and 14 to coincide with the eighth anniversary of the war.
Greg Sargent reported on Friday that MoveOn was emailing supporters to tell the Obama administration to seek “clear exit strategy” as his strategy review progresses. This marks quite the shift for MoveOn: the group took flak from the left earlier this year when it didn’t oppose Obama’s first round of troop increases for Afghanistan. It’s tread a delicate balance since Obama’s election, as it gained a ton of new members by hugging the Obama campaign so tightly, which puts it in a delicate position of wanting to press Obama from the left while retaining its pro-Obama base of support.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates argued on Sunday that setting a date for withdrawal in Afghanistan would be a “strategic mistake.” MoveOn isn’t calling for that, to be clear, but might move in that direction as it “grappl[es] with how to end the war as quickly and responsibly as possible.”
Voters for Peace (VFP) and a host of national organizations announced today that they are mobilizing Americans across the nation to call Congress on September 30 to say, “No Exit strategy! No Timeline! Stop war funding!” according to Kevin Zeese, VFP director.
Congress is steps away from passing the $625.8 billion 2010 Defense Budget containing approximately $128.2 billion to war against Afghanistan and Iraq through September 2010. Evidence exists that the longer the U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, the greater is the risk that Americans will be attacked on U.S. soil according to former CIA field operative, Robert Baer and other officials in humanitarian movie director, Robert Greenwall’s documentation in Rethink AfghanistanPart 6. (See video below)
Americans have been signing Tom Hayden’s petition for Congress to not fund sending more troops to Afganistan. The September 30 National Call-in signals stronger dissent against the wars that are putting Americans in harms way and wasting troop’s lives while basic human needs remain unmet on the homefront.
The original meaning of “a quagmire” is when every step taken to escalate a war makes it harder than ever to leave.
General McChrystal has called for tens of thousands of additional American troops and a long-term commitment likely to tie the United States down in Afghanistan for years to come.
The White House has offered no timetable and no “exit strategy” for Afghanistan.
“At this critical moment, members of Congress need to get a powerful message from their constituents that we need a different policy in Afghanistan – one that emphasizes diplomacy and humanitarian assistance. Without any plan to bring the war to an end, Congress should not give another “blank-check” to the White House for continued fighting,” states Zeese.
The coalition urges all citizens to particpate in the September 30 National Call-in Day to tell Senators and Congressional Representatives to vote against the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill.
“When making this call, urge them to co-sponsor Congressman James McGovern’s H.R. 2404 that would require President Obama to provide an ‘exit plan’ from Afghanistan no later than December 2009,” urged Zeese.
“Growing numbers of Senators and Congressional Representatives have expressed concerns over US policy in Afghanistan. It is hypocritical to raise so many questions and then turn around and provide “blank check” funding for another year of war,” says Zeese.