In this engrossing study of US interventions since the cold war, a cast of senior White House figures across the decades revisit their decisions, set against a visceral catalogue of archival footage.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Whether, when, how and for how long the United States should intervene beyond its borders remains one of the most contentious and consequential questions of international politics and human rights since the end of the Cold War. Here Dror Moreh (the Oscar-nominated Gatekeepers, The Human Factor) trains his camera on those at the centre of making such indescribably high-stakes decisions.
In seeking to understand how those choices were made, Moreh spent six years collecting interviews with senior figures from White House administrations across several decades. The cast list is astonishing. Among those who describe their motivations and experiences, recounting the tension and entanglement of moral imperative, practical consequences and expedient domestic political objectives are Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Leon Panetta, Antony Blinken and Samantha Power.
Those perspectives come with a necessary and visceral juxtaposition. Spanning examples of action and inaction including the Balkans, Rwanda, Libya, Iraq and Syria, archival footage catalogues gruesome human atrocity after atrocity – a visceral evocation of the challenge that Power, who would go on to become an adviser to President Barack Obama, explored in her Pulitzer winning book “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide.
Moreh’s unflinching, engrossing documentary picks up that challenge and asks: can the Never Again mantra that followed the moral stain of the Holocaust truly be said to endure today? - Toby Manhire