It’s blockbuster season in Hollywood – there’re a whole bunch of great movies out there, including “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which I saw last night. It’s a fantastic-but-true story of the Texas Congressman, played by Tom Hanks, who influenced Congress to support Afghan freedom fighters in their battle against Soviet invaders in the 1980s. Working with a renegade CIA agent (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and an anti-Communist Texas socialite (Julia Roberts), Wilson managed to increase the appropriations for this “covert” war from $5 million to $500 million over a few years – arming the mujahideen who were ultimately victorious against the Soviets.
Despite this triumph over communism, the end of the movie depicts Wilson’s unsuccessful attempt to push the U.S. government to invest in the post-armed-conflict Afghan infrastructure, in the form of education and rebuilding schools. So that didn’t happen, and the weakened state of the country post-war contributed to the subsequent rise of the Taliban – and we all know how that’s turned out (ironically, this movie touches upon “who was responsible for the execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” father of Benazir, who was assassinated in Pakistan yesterday).
Of course, it’s the movies, and we hope for Hollywood endings. But to me, Charlie’s quote in the epilogue, about “changing the world but messing up the endgame,” highlights how these critical elements of civil society – education, health care, a decent economy – can make a huge difference in the overall stability and ultimate prosperity of a country and its people.
Good movie. Thumbs up for Charlie Wilson’s War from this reviewer.