Tribeca Film Fest: ‘Shadow World’ Doc on Global Arms Trade is Scathing, Devastating

A still from "Shadow World" of an image supplied by the Reagan Library
A still from “Shadow World” of an image supplied by the Reagan Library

It’s difficult to write about “Shadow World” – a documentary screened at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. While I’ve read about and seen other documentaries about war profiteering, if the film is to be believed, it’s absolutely devastating. The U.S. and U.K. governments are implicated at the highest levels as using the global arms trade for not only war profiteering but also bribery and assassinations – for decades. The goal is to profit from perpetual war.

Shadow World2Even Obama and the African National Congress in South Africa are implicated. Of course, we do know about the drones that have been used by the Obama Administration. A young Pakistani girl’s testimony is shown in the film about the day her grandmother was hit by a drone in front of her.

Journalist Chris Hedges says the war profiteers don’t care if we win or lose a war as long as it remains good for profit. In his opinion, it’s permanent wars that are destroying the Middle East, not fundamentalist Islam. When he came out against the invasion of Iraq, he even received a letter of reprimand from the higher-ups at The New York Times. So much for objective journalism.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of clips implicating Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, both Presidents Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and their relationship with the royals of Saudi Arabia. Those interviewed in the film say that there was a deliberate plan to create corporations that have the fire power of small nation-states, which allows them to overthrow small governments around the world.

Former Representative Cynthia McKinney is interviewed in the film and says that she received death threats. “That’s what happens when you go against the big boys,” she said.

David Leigh, a reporter for The Guardian, says that politicians are no better than mid-level executives who do what they’re told by corporations, and they serve as the salespeople for large arms contractors. Arms trader Riccardo Privitera puts it this way in the film: government officials “make the mafia look like a bunch of school boys.”

“Shadow World” left me feeling like a certified conspiracy theorist and feeling more helpless and despondent than a film has ever caused me to feel. I was beyond angry. That said, I don’t want to discourage people from seeing it. Yes, you need to be emotionally prepared, but it’s important that citizens know what’s brought to light here, whether you believe it or not.

If this horrific corruption is as extensive as the film (and, apparently, the book of the same name by Andrew Feinstein on which the film is based) claims, I don’t know how to dismantle that corruption. But I do know that there’s no way we’ll ever be able to do it if the public remains ignorant about it.

I sobbed after the film was over. I thought of my lucky life and wondered how many people died so that I might have it – people I never wished to die. I desperately want this horror to end. But what can I do other than write this piece or try to vote responsibly? I honestly don’t know, but the website for the film includes a page on taking action.

Directed by Johan Grimonprez, the documentary was written by Andrew Feinstein, who wrote the original book of the same name. Watch the trailer below.


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