By: Amanda Guarragi
The Longest War is directed by Emmy-winning director, Greg Barker and Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon. The documentary was televised right after the series finale of Homeland on Sunday night and unpacks the CIA’s long and morally complicated history in Afghanistan. This fight had been going on for two decades and the timeline that was shown, highlighting each President discussing the issue put the longevity of this war into perspective. The question that often arises is “Why were they there?” and this documentary definitely explores that jam packed question.
The documentary goes into the depths of the battle in Afghanistan by highlighting key moments, which made an impact for the trajectory of this war. It began with the United States stepping in, to get the Soviets out of the country by supplying them with weapons to fight extremist groups. After the Soviets left, Afghanistan had control of weapons and the country faced a Civil War with the Taliban emerging. Shortly after, Al Qaeda made its presence known and Osama Bin Laden was their leader.
During all this, President Bill Clinton was the Leader of the Free World and did nothing to stop this. It seemed as it was a domino effect because people question would question the aftermath of one decision. What if President Clinton went after him? Would things have been different? Would 9/11 have even happened? Would the U.S. Troops be there without cause or reason after 2 decades? These are the questions that are addressed in The Longest War and I was so invested in knowing the truth.
What I think was incredibly beneficial of the storytelling in this documentary was the detailed interviews on both sides of the fence. It was such a balanced discussion between CIA operatives, U.S Troops, Journalists and the Afghan people that it covered all the bases. At times, the editing allowed for two opposing answers, to counter each other and present an argument, without having those people face each other in the same room. The integration of stock footage was done seamlessly and showed the destruction of Afghanistan, by extremist groups and the United States.
Barker also highlighted the importance of Journalists and their bravery when reporting in warzones. Anyone who old the truth was at risk. The television station and media outlets that started production in Afghanistan after the US stepped in, were reporting on the Taliban and ended up losing thirteen people from their team to violence. The truth is, and always will be, a powerful tool and it’s up to Journalists and the media to cover history in the most honest way because their words will be remembered.
Afghanistan is a very young country and they are the future. They’ve only known what a war torn country looks like and have never been able to know peace with their own people. The battle in Afghanistan will forever be the most confusing, life altering and questionable battle that the United States had to endure. It doesn’t help that the CIA took matters into their own hands and made some very violent decisions when interrogating people in the extremist groups. What started out as a peace mission to redevelop Afghanistan, ended up being one of the most scarring events in U.S. history, which changed the way the United States was viewed by the world forever.