Rhodes and Power with former President Obama
Rhodes and Power with former President Obama REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A new documentary on the Obama foreign policy team that is being released this week, and it reveals an administration that by its final days was deeply conflicted on how to address persistent challenges like the ongoing Syrian civil war, and found itself profoundly shocked and unprepared for the upset victory of Donald Trump just a few weeks later.

The HBO film, The Final Year, by documentarian Greg Barker, features Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power, who represented two opposing poles inside the Obama administration over the uses and limits of American power to shape events around the world—a running battle between idealism and pragmatism that is, in the end, subsumed by their shared horror and dismay over Trump’s election.