|Directed by||Robert Greenwald|
Rethink Afghanistan is a 2009 documentary about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. This full-length documentary campaign features experts from Afghanistan, the U.S., and Russia, among other stakeholders, addressing critical issues such as military escalation, how escalation will affect Pakistan and the surrounding region, the cost of war, civilian casualties, and the rights of Afghan women.
Rethink Afghanistan gave birth to a movement based out of the growing need and desire for non-military solutions in the region. Through the production of the full-length documentary film coupled with an online and on-the-ground campaign, Rethink Afghanistan advocates an alternative vision to current U.S. policy in Afghanistan.
Creators Robert Greenwald and Brave New Foundation released this film in six chapters, beginning in February 2009. The final chapter was released in August 2009 and the full 6-part documentary DVD became available on November 10, 2009. This staggered release allowed BNF to stay atop an ever-changing news cycle. They have "released all segments of this six-part documentary".
As part of the filmmaking process, acclaimed Director Robert Greenwald (Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers; Outfoxed; Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price; Unmanned: America's Drone Wars) traveled to Afghanistan to meet with and interview members of Afghanistan's parliament; bloggers; women's rights organizations; and groups committed to the peace movement.
The ultimate goals of this documentary campaign were to raise the level of public discourse, compel people to ask key questions about the war, and urge Congress to vote against any escalation of U.S. troops in the war in Afghanistan. Early on, the campaign successfully helped retired Corporal Rick Reyes and other veterans testify before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and meet with members of Congress. Reyes, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, testified before Sen. John Kerry and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He told the committee, "Sending more troops will not make the US safer; it will only build more opposition against us. I urge you on behalf of truth and patriotism to consider carefully and Rethink Afghanistan."
The first chapter of the 6-part film argues that due to the rural nature of Afghanistan, a troop surge similar to the one undertaken in Iraq will fail to work. Additionally, its autonomous tribal peoples adhere to a strict code of honor which is being violated by invading western forces. This invasion will fuel more anti-American terrorism.
In chapter 2, experts assert that the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan was an artificial creation of 19th century British policy, and has no reality for the Taliban. The weakened Pakistani government, which fears Indian encirclement, is assisting the Taliban to re-invent themselves as a Pashtu nationalist army intent on controlling both countries.
Rethink Afghanistan goes on to address the cost of the war. Supply problems in a rural, mountainous, landlocked country and lack of oversight and accountability by private contractors result in war profiteering. That, and hidden costs such as care for veterans, have created an unsustainably expensive war which contributed to the financial crisis which began in 2008.
In the fourth chapter, disturbing footage from destroyed communities and IDP (Internally Displaced Person) camps illustrates that the bombardment of villages and mosques result in the deaths and dismemberment of innocent civilians, including children. This violence converts villagers into suicide bombers for the Taliban.
The film also addresses the plight of Afghan women. Due to the increased militarization of Afghan society and misogynist Mujahedeen who have taken key positions in the government and judiciary, violence against women has increased. This includes rape, child abduction and acid attacks. Furthermore, literacy, female life expectancy, and maternal and infant mortality have not improved since the US invasion.
Finally, Rethink Afghanistan posits that the avowed aim of making America more secure is actually compromised by the US presence in Afghanistan. Due to the US government's attempts to fight a conventional war in Afghanistan - a region where Al Qaeda no longer has a substantial presence - the world is now less safe for Americans, including American operations overseas, and terrorism has actually increased.
- Anand Gopal - Afghanistan Correspondent, Christian Science Monitor
- Robert Pape - Professor, Political Science & Author, Dying to Win
- Andrew Bacevich - Professor, International Relations and History & Author, The Limits of Power
- Faiysal Alikhan - Founder FIDA (Foundation for Integrated Development Action) & Executive Director, The PESCO Group
- Stephen Kinzer - Foreign Correspondent & Author, Overthrow
- Ruslan Aushev - Lt. General, Russian Army (Ret.) & Chief, Committee of Russian Afghan Veterans
- Thomas J. Barfield - Professor, Anthropology & Pres., The American Institute of Afghanistan Studies
- Dr. Ramazan Bashardost - Member, Afghan Parliament & Presidential Candidate
- Shukria Barakzai - Member, Afghan Parliament & Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Aina-e-Zan (Women's Mirror)
- Mohammed Osman Tariq - Former Mujahid Commander, Soviet-Afghan War & Pres., The National Council for Peace and Democracy in Afghanistan
- Carl Conetta - Co-Director, The Project on Defense Alternatives
- Tariq Ali - Historian & Author, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power
- Steve Coll - President/CEO, New America Foundation & Author, Ghost Wars
- Ahmed Rashid - Pakistani Journalist & Author, Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia
- Rory Stewart - Director, The Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard University & Author, The Places in Between
- Catherine Collins - Co-Author, The Man from Pakistan
- Lawrence Korb - Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress & Senior Advisor, Center for Defense Information
- Linda Blimes - Co-Author, The Three Trillion Dollar War
- SSG. Christopher Bentley - United States Marine Corps
- Winslow Wheeler - Director, Straus Military Reform Project
- Jo Comerford - Executive Director, National Priorities Project
- Pratap Chatterjee - Managing Editor, Corpwatch
- Sonali Kolhatkar - Afghan Women's Mission
- Erica Gaston - CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict)
- Ann Jones - Author, Kabul in Winter|
- Orzala Ashraf Nemet - Afghan Women's Network
- Kavita Ramdas - President/CEO, Global Fund for Women
- Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy - Journalist & Filmmaker
- Fahima Vorgetts - Director, Afghan Women's Fund
- Fatana Gailani - Founder, Afghanistan Women's Council
- Robert Baer - Former CIA Field Operative, Middle East & Author, See No Evil
- Graham Fuller - Former CIA Station Chief, Kabul, Afghanistan & Former Vice-Chair, National Intelligence Council
- Tom Hayden - Author, The Long Sixties
- Robert Grenier - Former CIA Station Chief, Islamabad, Pakistan & Former Director, Counterterrorism Center
- Ursala Rahmani - Former Taliban Official
- Juan Cole - Author, Engaging the Muslim World
- "Rethink Aghanistan". imdb. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- Brian Stelter (2009-03-23). "Released on Web, a Film Stays Fresh". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2010-02-17.
- "Rethink Afghanistan". Archived from the original on 2010-02-17.
- Farah Stockman (2009-05-13). "McGovern fights Afghan war funding". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2010-02-17.
- "How Do You Ask a Man to Be the Last Man to Die for a Mistake in Afghanistan?". 2009-04-29. Archived from the original on 2010-02-17.