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Taxi To The Dark Side (2007) was an eye opener for me. I watched it expecting something completely different and came out of it with a deeper understanding of a dark Chapter of the war on Terror, and an exposition that validated some of my beliefs regarding the matter.
I thought this documentary would be another one of those that try to paint America and the American Army as evil entities that caused a tragic death for an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan. War is a horrible thing, and terrible things happen at war. There is no such thing as a civilized war, and i believe that by the very definition of what war is, even the best intended army with the best of motives, atrocities are bound to happen. When they happen, they should be dealt with as there should be a zero-tolerance towards them, but using such accidents somehow in an argument that would paint the entire US military and Government as evil, or worse, no better than Nazis, is incredible troubling to me. This is case of the proverbial bad apple souring the whole basket.
I find it shocking that in some circles, it's been too easy to just paint the whole war on terror as the manifestation of Evil incarnate. Portraying Bush as a neo-Hitler is offensive as it completely miscasts what the American government has been doing (albeit with an incredible level of incompetence), and completely dilutes what the true evils of the Nazi regimes and other far right or far left governments can really do.
This being said, no one can argue that many terrible mistakes were made to the point of angering most people towards a Government that looked completely incompetent. One of those terrible mistakes that got a lot of press during the election campaign in 2008 has been the use of torture techniques to get information from suspected terrorists. This whole thing seems absurd to me since History has shown over and over again that nothing is gained by torturing someone. So, how did it happen in a country such as America? How did so many people believe that it could be warranted?
Well, this is where this documentary comes in. It's a near perfect study of the system that enabled torture to occur, and all the reasons why it was completely absurd in the first place. By issuing contradictory and confusing policies, breaking down communication and reporting lines across the military, a fertile ground has been created for such things to occur, and obviously, get out of control. That documentary eloquently presented the facts and reasoning around the issue.
In that way, it reminded me of No End In Sight (2007). Both take a very logical and meticulous approach to highlight failures of the Iraq war, like a mathematical proof or a business case study. It's not so much that they present a forceful anti-Iraq war rhetoric in and of itself, but they clearly highlight many of its ideological weaknesses and faults, and the mistakes that were perpetrated. Those documentaries present real issues with the war that are quite damning. They offer a deep and well thought-out analysis, not theatrical and partisan crackpot arguments. For that, both are worth watching, whichever part of the political spectrum you belong to.
- Laurent Hasson