The Final Year, the HBO Documentary about Obama’s Foreign Policy team during the final year he was in office, has been on my radar to go and see ever since I had first heard the film had been made. I’m not someone whose entire life revolves around politics and what is happening, but I do keep my ear to the ground and I am interested in the processes of how political actions are carried out.
Last year I watched a BBC documentary about the House of Commons (UK Government) and found how out domestic politics operates and it was fascinating. I am someone more inclined to domestic policy than foreign policy, but I knew that I was going to find the inner workings of Obama’s Foreign Policy team just as intriguing.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
It was certainly interesting to hear from Ben Rhodes and John Kerry, and as always it was great to hear Obama’s opinion on anything, because it is always well thought through. At one point, he is talking to young leaders, and he gives them some great advice. To be a great leader you need to understand what motivates people. He says at first that you might assume that is money or power, but he’d learnt over time that you need to listen to their stories, and it is their experience that motivates them.
Let’s just say as an introvert who believes listening is one of the world’s most important (and feels as if it is the most ignored) skills, it was fantastic hearing someone like Barack Obama say that, and it was a great nugget of advice to take away from this film.
However, the focus of the film was on Samantha Power who acted as the UN Ambassador. I don’t know very much about her, but seeing a composed, professional woman carrying about her business was brilliant, and very inspiring as a young woman. It has certainly made me more interested in Foreign Policy and how organisations like the UN operate. Seeing where she travels to, and the issues she is still dealing with that the media stopped focusing on years ago is eye-opening.
The content of the film is certainly interesting, but what makes it an important film is that it shows that politics isn’t some flash in the pan action that resolves problems quickly. It is a long term dedication, and this film inspired me, and what I hope it does is inspire the next generation of leaders and diplomats to get involved.