The left-wing filmmaker behind a documentary that questions U.S. policy in Afghanistan says he "took a lot of grief" and lost progressive donors when he began making the movie "Rethink Afghanistan."
Robert Greenwald's latest effort criticizes the U.S.'s current approach to the war in Afghanistan, even if it tarnishes the image of Pres. Barack Obama by association. Greenwald says his intent with the film is to get people talking about the Afghan war and questioning U.S. policy there, which made some progressives angry in the early days of the Obama administration.
"When we started doing it, we took a lot of grief, we lost funders, people were mad at us," Greenwald said in a phone interview with Raw Story. "It was at a time when there was this notion that anything the Obama administration did you were not supposed to question."
Greenwald has a petition on the movie's website that calls on Congress to debate "civilian alternatives to a failed military-based approach to bringing peace and security to the region." He told Raw Story he was prompted to make the movie after a recent trip through Vietnam when he noticed parallels between the Afghan war and the Vietnam war.
"I started thinking, literally, you could cross out Kennedy and replace it with Obama, and cross out communism and replace it with a fear of terrorism," Greenwald told Raw Story.
After the movie's D.C. premiere on Tuesday night, a freshman Democratic congresswoman quoted a "colleague" of hers as saying Obama may need to be saved "from himself" in deciding Afghan war policy.
Suburban Maryland U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards made the comments while discussing the "tough choice" ahead for members of Congress in which they will have to decide whether to approve funding more troops for the war in Afghanistan if Obama follows the recommendation of his top military commander there and asks for additional resources. General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander for the war in Afghanistan who was hand-picked by Obama, has told the president he wants to expand the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.
"As one of my colleagues--who shall remain nameless--said, 'Indeed, we may have to save this president from himself on Afghanistan,''" Edwards told the crowd, after encouraging attendees to take action in their communities by "raising questions" about the war.
"We have to be vocal and insistent on this administration and this Congress not to fall prey to the language of the good war," Edwards said, referencing how the Afghan efforts were once viewed favorably by the American public in comparison to the Iraq war.
Edwards told reporters later that her comments stemmed from concerns that Obama was being pressured to escalate the Afghan war.
"It's clear just from reading the headlines he is getting some advice and a push to escalate," Edwards said. General McChrystal has said the fate of the Afghan war will likely be decided in the next 12 months, and is expected to request as many as an additional 40,000 troops for the conflict in the near future. The U.S. currently has roughly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. Obama told a group of bipartisan lawmakers Tuesday that he has no plans to lower troop levels in Afghanistan, the Washington Post reported.
Edwards said she doesn't support adding troops to Afghanistan, and hopes to give Obama room "to step back, make a full assessment," on the future of the war.