Sarajevo Film Festival 2024

War is a racket

CONFLICT / The story of a Romanian soldier in the Afghan war and that of a young girl who found herself in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Director: Vlad Petri
Country: Romania

The Same Dream, by Vlad Petri, is a chilling movie. And although it is closer to a short film, it manages to pack quite a punch in just 29 minutes.

On this initiatic journey into the harshness of war, a soldier leaves his hometown in Romania to go to the dusty roads of Afghanistan. As if travelling to the moon, the soldier sees himself more as an explorer than an exterminator. The explorer, however, is riding on a TR-85M armoured tank. A 50 tonnes, 7M€ killing machine, shipped around the globe to launch 4000€ projectiles on shacks of people who live on less than 5€ a day.

The Same Dream, a film by Vlad Petri
The Same Dream, a film by Vlad Petri

War is a racket

The «Operation Enduring Freedom» initiated on October 7, 2001 in response to the September 11 attacks, was carried out despite the public and explicit condemnation that the Taliban made of such attacks. Despite the determined initiative of the Taliban to hand over Osama Bin Laden if the United States could provide evidence of his involvement in the attacks. Despite not having the approval of the UN until December. As if it had already been planned, the US decided to invade.

20 years later, the motivations that led to this endless war remain obscure and, at the very least questionable. Was it the opium? the geostrategic location of Afghanistan in the struggle for dominance of the Middle East#? Or the gigantic business involved in subtracting from the public coffers of the collaborating countries trillions of dollars required to finance a war effort of such magnitude?

Without victory, without peace and leaving behind a quarter of a million dead, many of them civilians.

Orders are orders and a soldier must obey

From the perspective of the soldier, we ride in armoured vehicles and witness accompanied by the reassuring purr of the machine. The all too known perspective that we first discovered thanks to the 2010 Wikileaks video Collateral Murder. The infamous Apache helicopter attack on civilians in Baghdad is no longer the only evidence that we have of the atrocities perpetrated by US forces. NATO support forces, including Romanians, join their ranks to «promote the security of Afghan people and institutions».

A quiet landscape is crossed by a group of children walking through the snow, some with sleds. The stillness is disturbed without a warning by an explosion. Body parts flying everywhere. Are they Romanian? Are they Afghan? Mixed with the soldier’s story, a child explains how one day, everything was blown up. Stones, dust and wounded civilians screaming. Crawling. Scattering towards nowhere, to escape from the all-seeing peephole of a flying murder machine in a treeless land.

This is the method of modern warfare. Attack from a distance, without warning, without conscience, without guilt and without consequences. For Collateral Murder, Julian Assange has spent almost 10 years in forced confinement.

The Same Dream, a film by Vlad Petri
The Same Dream, a film by Vlad Petri

I am you and you are me

Back in Romania, our Afghan infant recounts his epic. Is this kid going to be a Taliban terrorist when he grows up? In what direction has this boy’s life been pushed when he happens to be the only survivor of his family?

Is it the dust of the Afghan plains or the snow of the Romanian mountains? The black and white format gives an excellent narrative support to the montage, which manages to immerse us in this delirious journey and forces us to constantly remember that this is not a work of fiction.

Our Romanian soldier, already back from war, cannot hide a certain military pride, which he feels thanks to Romania entering the first world by being accepted into NATO. The price to pay was 2 years of involvement in Afghanistan from 2002 until being accepted as a country with full rights. Sending assassins thousands of miles away to participate in an international crusade that, as Smedley Butler warned us, is a racket.

This year the US and NATO decide to finally abandon the Afghan territory as other empires did before them. Without victory, without peace and leaving behind a quarter of a million dead, many of them civilians. For millennia, empires have been going to Afghanistan to marry or die.

This is how Alexander the Great did it and that is how the British Empire understood it, supporting the local strong men and warlords and never trying to impose foreign customs or structures like ‘democracy’ on the Hindukush lords.

The director warns us that none of the people who are part of this story have wanted to concede their anonimity.

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Marc Molas Carol
Marc Molas Carol
Spanish editor at Modern Times Review, and Catalan music producer, based in Barcelona.

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