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Rethinking Afghanistan Screening Prompts Lively Discussion

October 5, 2009

Last night about 35 people came to Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ to view a screening of the new 6-part documentary from Robert Greenwald, Rethink Afghanistan.

The documentary explores issues like human rights, security, women, Pakistan and the cost of war in Afghanistan. After the screening there was interesting discussion around the motive for the US occupation of Afghanistan now that it has lasted 8 years. Some people felt that there was no clear objective and that the US should either end the occupation or put the focus on doing development and anti-poverty work.


Most people were quite aware of the current discussion within the Obama administration over whether or not to send additional US troops, as is being suggested by Gen. McChrystal. Some US officials, like Michigan Senator Carl Levin, are advocating for more emphasis on training Afghani police and soldiers, but it was pointed out that this is just a tactical difference and not a disagreement on the larger strategy to win the “War on Terror” in Afghanistan.

Someone suggested that focusing on the monetary cost of the US occupation in Afghanistan might be the best way to reach people. A member of the group Brunch & Revolution talked about a recent march they held in Grand Rapids, where they handed out flyers with information on what the cost to taxpayers has been from Grand Rapids. According to the National Priorities Project (NPP), there has been a total of $479.2 million in tax dollars that have left Grand Rapids to fund the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. The NPP also provides a breakdown of how that money could have been spent for health care, housing and education if it stayed in Grand Rapids.

Other issues that were raised dealt with the US efforts to respond to the skyrocketing opium production that is taking place in Afghanistan, US militarism and the US geo-political and natural resource interest in that part of the world as well.

One thing that many people seemed to agree on was that the information that was presented in the film is not a perspective that the US news media is providing. GRIID confirms that observation with our most recent study of the Grand Rapids Press and its coverage of Afghanistan.

You can view the 6-part documentary online and in light of the recent information coming out of Washington, we think that part 6 is particularly relevant since it speaks to the issue of policy and security. 

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