FIRESTONE AND THE WARLORD

THE PLOT THUS FAR

The secret relationship between the iconic tire company & the infamous Liberian warlord Charles Taylor.

Firestone and the Warlord reveals how the American tire company Firestone conducted business during the brutal Liberian civil war, piecing together how the stories of Charles Taylor (the American-educated war criminal notorious for his use of child soldiers) and Firestone (Liberia’s largest single employer) intersected in fateful ways between 1989 and 1992. The investigation uncovers the details of the deal Firestone struck with the warlord–how it channeled millions of dollars to Taylor in exchange for being able to operate-money that, in his own words, provided the “financial assistance that we needed for the revolution,” and how Taylor turned the plantation into a rebel base that he used to wage war. With all eyes on Liberia as the country battles the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history, FRONTLINE and ProPublica shine new light on the country’s history and its civil war–a conflict that left lasting scars on the country’s infrastructure and psyche–and raises provocative questions about corporate responsibility, accountability, and the ethical ramifications of doing business in conflict zones.

WHAT WE THOUGHT

“Firestone and the Warlord” is a Frontline look into how Charles Taylor used his ties to Firestone to finance his rule in Liberia. Sure, child soldiers are questionable, but Firestone provided excellent paying jobs. They also gave indirect Western permission to a man who believed that he had learned the best of both worlds and decided to bring a new kind of war to Africa. The results were chilling and now the world is bailing out the failed nation of Liberia during one of the worst Ebola outbreaks in human history.

While I agree that Firestone did some questionable stuff, I don’t agree with the documentary’s efforts to blame every problem since that time on the arrangement. There is a statute of limitations on how much a Western entity can destroy the Third World in pursuit of that Multi-National Corporation dollar. I just wish that there was more time in the investigation to explore who OK’d it at Firestone and if they had been making advancements to preventing it from happening again. What I saw was a mix of history and finger-pointing.

The DVD comes with no special features. The A/V Quality is on par for most recent standard definition PBS releases. The transfer isn’t amazing, but it works. The same goes for the Dolby 2.0 audio track. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 02/03/2015

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