A Progressive Producer’s Opposition to Afghan Strategy

Producer Robert Greenwald returned from Afghanistan over the weekend as part of his ongoing, online documentary “Rethink Afghanistan,” which questions the strategy of sending 17,000 additional troops to the country. His opinions of the conflict — which he has shared on a blog he wrote during the trip — reflect simmering doubts about the Obama administration’s strategy coming from the industry’s left.

On BraveNewFilms’ Website Rethink Afghanistan, there’s considerable consternation not only of the Obama plan’s cost but that it will lead to a wider conflict in Pakistan. BraveNewFilms recently introduced the second chapter of its series, this one focused on the powder keg of Pakistan and the worry that any substantial U.S. troop presence will only foment destabilizing dissent on the Zardari government.

What has yet to transpire, however, is anything nearing the anti-war sentiment that preceded the war in Iraq, even if, as David Brooks pointed out in the New York Times on Friday, there is a “war weariness” that pervades the American psyche. (Adding more fuel to the doubters, Brooks also writes, “President Obama is doubling down on the very principles that some dismiss as neocon fantasy: the idea that this nation has the capacity to use military and civilian power to promote democracy, nurture civil society and rebuild failed states.”)

The nature of the opposition — if you can call it that — also isn’t so clear cut. Greenwald is careful about pointing out that even though he has visited the region, he is no expert. “It’s deeply complicated,” he told KCRW’s “To the Point” last week. He offered some praise for the Obama adminstration’s efforts, but said, “I can’t help but think what would happen if we sent 17,000 teachers to Afghanistan.” He said those he talked to didn’t identify more troops as the first option for stabilizing the country, but pointed to the need for education and humanitarian aid. Greenwald said he’s trying to point out that there’s “a way to win that doesn’t rely on old solutions of people with guns.”

BraveNewFilms is calling for oversight hearings on the conflict.


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