Foreign Policy Blogs

Talibanistan (2010)

Hearts and minds.
That’s what narrator Peter Coyote says coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan need to win over in this National Geographic offering.
Talibanistan is the nickname given to the treacherous mountainous area straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is called that because of the Taliban forces entrenched there.
This hour long documentary shows firsthand the situation on the ground where snipers and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are a constant threat.
It also achieves some insight into the indoctrination of young men by the Taliban. One interviewed said he was told that local women were being sent to “that prison in Cuba” (Guantánamo Bay) where they are tortured and raped.
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The issue of winning hearts and minds in a foreign land by western powers was just as important in Vietnam. The 1974 documentary Hearts and Minds shows how the west failed miserably in that regard.
In fact, reports that Afghan and Pakistani villagers – who are caught between Taliban and coalition forces – siding with whomever is around is eerily similar to those of Vietnamese villagers who helped (at times by gunpoint) the United States by day and the Vietcong by night.
One scary scenario is the Taliban toppling the Pakistani government and thereby having access to the nation’s nuclear weapons.

The film tries to end on a positive note, showing coalition soldiers handing out goods to smiling children.
However, the truth is that the Taliban have a recruiting tool created by the current occupation: the coalition forces are foreign intruders and that trumps ideology.
What will happen remains to be seen. However, Afghanistan is called the “Graveyard of Empires” for good reason.
Talibanistan is available to rent.
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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