The Human Cost of War: The Images the Corporate Media Doesn’t Want You to See
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.
“Mr. Greenwald’s documentary has no time to approach an opposing view with sympathy or understanding for its concerns,” he concludes.
Webster misunderstands — or else purposely distorts — Greenwald’s purpose in making his film. This is not a Times-style war report that feigns “objectivity” by peddling administration spin. This is a critical educational and organizing tool for Americans and their Congressional representatives, who must confront hard questions — and horrible images — about this deadly war that has no end in sight. This is what is being done in our names, with our tax dollars. It is time people saw what it looks like.
For Jeremy Scahill’s take on Rethink Afghanistan — and the New York Times review — go here.