Foreign Policy Blogs

The Forgotten War (2010)

Why Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires is made crystal clear in this short documentary.
Journalist Paul Johnson made this film last year by traveling to Kandahar, one of Afghanistan’s deadliest regions that breeds young Taliban converts.
He shows the aftermath of roadside bombs in part by turning the camera on civilians. The lack of translation heightens the viewer’s sense of misunderstanding and alienation when approaching the region.
Johnson also points to Kandahar’s huge unemployment problem as a situation exploited by the Taliban to recruit new fighters and suicide bombers. He also interviews a scientist who says poppies can be used for things likes morphine and codeine, thus allowing the farmers to maintain their businesses.
She says the United States is trying to impose its Latin America war on cocaine onto Afghanistan’s poppy growers because as much as 90 percent of all the heroin in the world comes from Afghanistan.

Johnson interviews a man who is addicted to opium, another poppy-based product, as a sample of the growing number of opium addicts in the country.
Near the end of the documentary there are images of how Canadian troops and local Afghans treat their dead.
The former march in formation with a flag-draped coffin to a transport plane. The latter carry a dead man on a blanket onto the back of a pickup truck.
The last part of the film is a list of those who have attempted to rule Afghanistan, including Alexander the Great and the Greeks (330 BC to 305 BC), Genghis Khan, Mongols and Moghuls (1219-1709), the British Empire (1839-1919), and the Soviet Union (1979-1989).
It ends with the United States and NATO (2001 – ). It is up to us to determine what year will be etched on the other side of that hyphen.
The Forgotten War: Military Encounters in Afghanistan
can be found at: www.pauljohnsonfilms.com
Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]

 

Author

Sean Patrick Murphy
Sean Patrick Murphy

Sean Patrick Murphy is a graduate of Bennington College, where he majored in politics and Latin American literature. He has worked for Current History magazine, Physicians for Human Rights, and Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the World Federalist Association). He lives outside Philadelphia.

Areas of Focus:
Cinematography; Independent Films; Documentary;

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