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PopPolitics: ‘War Machine’ Director on the Futility of Another Troop Surge in Afghanistan (Listen)

Variety logo Variety 5/28/2017 Ted Johnson
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David Michod, the director of the new Netflix movie “War Machine,” debuting this weekend, said that his initial reaction to reports that President Trump’s advisers are calling for more troops in Afghanistan was one of “bewilderment.”

“I can’t pretend to be surprised,” he tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “We are now in the 16th year of this conflict. It is not wholly surprising to me that the architects of this mess can’t let it go.” He adds, “We are talking about an institution, the military, for which the metric of success is as binary in victory and defeat. It is hardly surprising that the first cause of action, and the recurring cause of action. is always to try to throw more troops at the problem.”

In “War Machine,” Brad Pitt plays the fictitious general Glen McMahon, who is tasked with turning around the situation in Afghanistan, certain that a strategy of adding more troops on the ground will win hearts and minds as the war torn country is rebuilt.

The movie is based on the Michael Hastings book “The Operators,” which featured the story of Stanley McChrystal, who was eventually relieved of command for comments he made disparaging President Barack Obama. Hastings had been given intimate access to McChrystal and his associates for a Rolling Stone piece.

Michod’s “War Machine,” which is both satire and serious drama, shows the futility of U.S. military operations in the region given that it is seen by so many in the country as a foreign occupation, something that the Taliban has exploited.

“You just need to accept those grievances are legitimate, and so that means you need to talk,” he says. “The problem with talking is that again, after 16 years, the American and western militaries have gotten extremely good at taking out high-level insurgent targets. They have been cutting the head off this beast for a long time, which is my way of saying, ‘I don’t know what those conversations would look like.’ I can’t see any other way that this mess will end.”

Listen below:

“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs on Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. ET/11-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.

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