Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Annual Academy Awards
This Oscar-nominated documentary should be seen by everyone, but especially for the blind and naive people who espouse that the United States is always a bastion for good in the world. You are as brainwashed as any other of the world’s various automatons if you believe that. And I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican, a Libertarian or an Independent—everyone is corruptible to a degree. And that’s from the lowliest intern right on up to the occupant of the Oval Office. As much as I am a proclaimed liberal, and proudly voted for Barack Obama in both elections, I fully realize that no one escapes being sucked into the machine in Washington(please spare me the touting of your favorite congress person…I’ll avoid the blanket statement by saying 99.9%). And Obama and his administration takes a couple of hits in “Dirty Wars”, and I believe it’s fully deserved. The 2011 assassination of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki is covered extensively here, and its justification is shown to be a political gray area. However, the subsequent drone strike killing of his 16 year-old son Abdulrahman doesn’t seem gray at all—it just seems wrong. U.S. officials later dubbed his execution a “mistake”. In fact, the teenager was killed while sitting in a cafe, and nine other people also lost their lives—including Abdulrahman’s 17 year-old cousin. It should give you pause.
Journalist Jeremy Scahill co-wrote this screenplay(with David Riker), and it’s based on his book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. And with Scahill’s showcased visits to Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, the world indeed proves to be just that. “Dirty Wars” also covers the mostly untold story of innocent civilian deaths in these countries, including those of pregnant woman, small children and babies through “acts of war”. It’s a heart-rending expose, made even more horrible by the casting off of these human lives as being unfortunate “collateral damage” from U.S combating of terrorism. Also, highly questionable tactics employed by American soldiers are brought to light here as well. It’s not the kind of stuff you usually get to see on the evening news, and there are things presented that seem outright criminal. Scahill took great risk in presenting these stories, and there were many times when he feared his life was in danger—even when he was right at home in Brooklyn. He’s an ubiquitous presence in the feature(maybe too much so), and his learned narration is enlightening. Director & editor Richard Rowley has crafted a riveting watch with “Dirty Wars”, which is perhaps somewhat guilty of getting a bit too sentimental towards its finale. That’s a debit, but the overall product is a resounding plus. Grade: A-
next review up: “Kick-Ass 2”