Overview: Last year, the U.S. began withdrawing combat troops from the longest war in our history: Afghanistan. But the war isn’t ending just because we’re leaving. This year, Afghan National Security Forces deaths and civilian casualties are both at record highs, and opium cultivation is at its highest since the war began. Ben Anderson went back to Helmand, the country’s most violent province, to investigate the security situation in Afghanistan as American involvement winds down.
The horrific attack at the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in 2015 made headlines around the world – and underscored the deep religious and cultural tensions rocking France. Distrust is growing between Muslims living in Paris’s depressed suburbs, and a Jewish community that feels increasingly under threat. Meanwhile, a far right-wing political party is making gains by opposing immigration and diversity. Vikram Gandhi went to Paris to assess the causes of the growing hate in the City of Lights.
Expectations: I like it when VICE sends us off to catch up with a country we haven’t heard from in a while. Such is the case here with Afghanistan and France. Even though the Afghan nation is a part of the Muslim world that we hear so much about right now it has its own unique set of problems that are worth a look. Even before watching this segment I already have ideas formed about what I think of that country and what it needs to be doing. Not that that amounts to a hill of beans. I mean my thoughts, not the country. Uh, don’t I?
And even France, and more specifically, Paris, has been a locale everyone seems to want to know about. Well, human nature being what it is, even the suave City of Lights has its problems too. And, if we follow the stereotype of the French than we know they are quite passionate in their causes. So once more, dear friends into the crazy world we go, starting with the trailer.
Gut Reaction: The first report is Afghanistan After Us by correspondent Ben Anderson. Honestly, my first thoughts about this piece didn’t really lie with the country of the title. I was actually thinking of the actions of the United States. We promise to go in and fight the bully of the region and promise that things will be better once they are gone. Only we pull out not completely completing the task, but ask on how you are faring.
Now don’t misunderstand me, we never should have gone over there for as long as we did and yes, we should have pulled out our troops, but to promise one thing and just give up on it may have hurt Afghanistan more than help. Now Ben Anderson tells us they have taken matters into their own hands in taking on the Taliban. He points out the community of fighters who have banded together to solve this issue themselves after America did not or could not do so.
Now believe me, it is highly unfortunate that youngsters like the ones interviewed even need to be involved in such a nasty business like war, but this country should have been taking radical steps to take down their enemy long before this. It was kind of chilling seeing Ben talking to the boys and also to see how casual the Afghani were when the bullets were heard about them as they were being interviewed. Great piece.
Paris, France has always seemed to come across as cool, suave, sophisticated, and hip. Not in this segment it doesn’t. There is turmoil in the Parisian streets as seen in La Haine by correspondent Vikram Gandhi. The segment’s title refers to the classic French cinema piece of the same name which translates to “The Hate.” It is about life in the Parisian projects as it were. It is these same sections of town that Vikram visits for his report.
It seems that America is not the only place with ethnic tensions. Whites & Blacks may have issues here but clashing in France are the Muslims, the Jews and the right-wing party that doesn’t want either faith within their borders. Paris itself has had its share of protests ending in riot control and violence. Vikram is there to look at and talk to all sides of the issue. The Muslims are tired of anyone claimed infidels and wants fair equality or prepare for jihad; those of the Jewish faith feel the same pressures and are ready to fight back with their own militant force and a growing political party adds to the turmoil with keeping Fascism alive.
It all makes for an interesting dilemma as that country from its capital city outward faces the consequences of these passionate and zealous entities play out their game of ‘king of the hill’ under the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. It all seems more serious and dangerous when strong countries seem to have such problems.
In Conclusion: Both Ben & Vikram went to the heart of the issues in this examination of the clash of ideologies and practices humans undertake. We sadly seem as if we will never get along. France actually seems like it is in a gridlock with the battling factions in its country. Afghanistan is doing what it should have been doing all along which is taking the matters into their own hands, which unfortunately involves children, and being vigilant at it.
Personally I would have preferred hearing from Vikram Gandhi in this week’s Debrief, but instead we follow up with Ben Anderson. Maybe, he will tell us more about those young teens on the front lines?
Okay, nothing on the young lads, but he did address the issue of the U. S. withdrawing before the mission objectives were completed and sort of throwing its hands up in defeat. Yes, you can read that to mean that the Taliban outlasted America in that campaign. And why should we care what happens to Afghanistan at all? If it falls than the Taliban has a country of its own and becomes that much more of an adversary to the world.
Next Week: Season 3 Episode 14 is the season finale of VICE. That final episode debuts FRIDAY, JUNE 26 at 11:00pm. The installment focuses on one topic as it looks at the United States’ new cold war with Russia. Until then – Peace.