´You have the watches, we have the time´, a Taliban commander infamously warned an American in 2002 Afghanistan. It was ominously accurate. Months earlier, America had swiftly ousted a flailing Taliban government, pledging to rebuild the embattled country. Fifty nations joined the ‘Operation Enduring Freedom´ war machine and for two decades, foreign armies poured into Afghanistan along with eye-watering amounts of foreign aid funding. Yet now the Taliban is back in charge of the entire country. So what went wrong?
The Watch Or The Time explores America and its allies’ ill-fated offensive in Afghanistan told by the foreigners and Afghans who lived it. The film tracks the arc of America’s longest war in modern history with these personal experiences, looking at the pitfalls of military intervention, humanitarian aid and the culture clash through the legacy of the West’s efforts in Afghanistan.
Did the thousands of expat-nation-builders foresee a Taliban victory? After so many other previous invasions, did the Afghans see the writing on the wall? And what is the price of the so-called peace in Afghanistan today?
You’ll meet a German armoured car salesman, an American sports trainer and women’s rights activist, a Canadian NATO psychological operations specialist, an Australian war photographer, an Afghan female graffiti artist from the Taliban heartland; Kandahar, Kabul University’s debate club vice-president, a local media producer dubbed Afghanistan’s Number 1 fixer, and a senior Taliban commander.
You’ll see ex-pats grapple with what they’ve left behind, Afghans struggle to make sense of the dramatic shift in their fates, while others celebrate the Taliban’s win.
As America and its allies try to wash their hands of responsibility in Afghanistan, The Watch Or The Time puts it front and centre again. This film presents the perspectives and ultimately asks, was it worth it? You decide.