Foreign Policy Blogs

Shadow of Afghanistan (2012)


This documentary is all over the place.

It is in part a history of modern Afghanistan and also a film about independent journalists – some of whom were killed – trying to report on the situation on the ground.

Afghanistan is called “The Graveyard of Empires” for good reason: Every country or empire that has tried to possess it gets mired down and loses its way.

What Shadow of Afghanistan does a good job of showing is how so many people have been uprooted and living in refugee camps, most on the border with Pakistan.

Another issue addressed is the landmines left behind by the retreating Soviets. The fact that they either never kept records of where they planted those mines or intentionally withheld such knowledge is barbaric.
Many Afghans – a good many children – have died or been maimed by the mines that lay scattered across the country.

Also, the makers of the film claim the CIA inadvertently supported the Taliban before 9/11 because it was funding the Pakistani ISI (the nation’s largest intelligence service) who supported the radical religious group.
What Shadow of Afghanistan does show in some detail is the number of people and parties vying for power, mostly in the 1990s. Also, the situation average Afghans face every day is explored.

This film could have been much longer or could have been divided into shorter pieces. It should be watched, however, as a primer of modern Afghanistan.

Shadow of Afghanistan is available to rent.

Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]




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;