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Why We Fight

A 2005 Documentary directed by Eugene Jarecki

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"You begin to wonder... there's something wrong with the entire system.."

  • Oct 8, 2008
Heartsick. As I should be. As any human being with a shred of humanity left should be. And no one more so than the patriotic American.

"Why We Fight," Oliver Stone's stunning documentary on the real reasons behind the wars in which Americans are and have been involved, is a film every American should view, and more than once. Is war ever the right answer? I will not argue that it is not. There are such times. And there have been wars that I believe we should have fought. Self-defense, yes. In defense of human rights, yes. But, honestly, how many such wars have there been? Few.

Begin with Harry Truman (to date, the only president whose popularity rating was lower than that of George W. Bush at 23 percent) and the order he gave to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. As the documentary points out, it had nothing to do with ending the war or forcing the Japanese to surrender. They had been attempting to surrender for months. Truman gave the order to drop the bomb for the thrill of an explosion, the thrill of power, the thrill of a blood lust. Or perhaps one can just call it ... thrill of imperialism. That deadly explosion was the opening of a door that has never closed again, and it never will. This is now the legacy of Truman, and that day, the day we took off our white hats forever.

Eisenhower predicted in his parting speech from the presidency that we were on the road to building a military-industrial complex. He was right. Most wars since then (and several before then) have been for power, for imperialism, for an arrogance in seeing our way superior to all others, and now, our wars are for oil. The documentary interviews countless military experts, news figures and scholars, runs disturbing video clips of politicians - including film of George Bush and Dick Cheney dishing out propaganda to justify an unjustifiable war - telling blatant lies about the reasons we were attacking Iraq and later chuckling over it. (There's even a clip from a current presidential candidate, and one wonders at the disparity in his message here, even as he scampers away at the bidding of the vice president, and his message in the current campaign. Huh. Not where my vote is going.)

A connection to 9/11? Heartrending interviews with the father of a son killed in one of the two towers in New York on that date progress to show how one American was pulled in by that propaganda, felt the hate he was told to feel, sought the vengeance, requested his son's name be painted on the side of a missile that became a part of "shock and awe," only to find out, much later, the truth of that day. That some ninety percent of the casualties in Iraq that day were boys like his. Children. Housewives. Workers. Families in their homes at the break of what seemed an ordinary dawn. And that it had nothing to do with "freedom." For anyone.

Defending freedom? Defending nothing more than corporate and political interests. At the brink of a time when we are once again expected to vote in a presidential election, one can only hope for documentaries such as this to give Americans pause. As one military figure in this film remarks, it is not that we do not have the information we need. We have access to the Internet. We have access to all kinds of information. If we wish to know, we can know. What then is our excuse not to make wiser decisions and demand our government to be accountable? Truly, the buck stops here. In the mirror. In every mirror.

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More Why We Fight (2005 movie) reviews
review by . March 07, 2007
Why We Fight is an open-ended documentary that profiles the military-industrial complex of the USA and how it influences American foreign policy to the point that wars are started primarily for corporate profit. The movie starts and ends with President Eisenhower's farewell speech where he frankly and clearly lays out the danger of a powerful military industrial complex. In between, the movie gets interviews from John McCain, Richard Perle, Chalmers Johnson, William Krystal, Gore Vidal, and numerous …
review by . February 13, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Pacing, storyline, people chosen to speak      Cons: Title doesn't quite fit the subject matter      The Bottom Line: Why anyone fights is fraught with wonder and questions, why we are fighting now . . . idiocy comes to mind.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      Why We Fight deserved all the accolades it got, but I have difficulty with the title. Why we …
review by . November 01, 2006
I can't recall ever seeing a more thoughtful documentary on the most recent of our nation's military efforts. What separates the American experience from that of almost every other "empire" throughout history is the fact that critics of our government are allowed to voice their opposing views. Efforts by some to paint a message like this as anti-American are disengenuous and downright wrong.    Beginning with Dwight Eisenhower's farewell address that warned of the danger posed …
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Zinta Aistars ()
Ranked #143
I am a bilingual writer and editor; founder and editor-in-chief of the literary ezine, The Smoking Poet. Learn more about me on my Web site--I welcome visitors!
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Fans of Oliver Stone'sJ.F.K.will recognize the opening moments of writer-director Eugene Jarecki'sWhy We Fight, in which outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower warns of the pernicious and growing influence of what he called the "military-industrial complex." But Stone's movie, which uses the same footage, was a work of fiction. While those who disagree with the decidedly leftist point of view in this documentary will probably consider it the product of paranoid liberal fantasy as well, there's enough credible material, much of it supplied by the targets of Jarecki's criticisms, to make Eisenhower look like a prophet and everyone else uneasy about the dark confluence of politics, money, and war that controls the country's fortunes. The message here is that while there may be some who sincerely believe that America's various military engagements (in Iraq, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere) since World War II are the product of our God-given duty to spread freedom and halt the influence of evil ideologies around the world, the real reason we fight is that war is good business. This is hardly a bulletin; anyone who is surprised by allegations that politicians pander to defense contractors, or that Vice President Dick Cheney helped secure huge deals for Halliburton, the company he formerly headed, simply hasn't been paying attention (Politicians lie? How shocking!). In fact, the principal drawback to Jarecki's film is simply that ...
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Director: Eugene Jarecki
Genre: Documentary
Release Date: 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Eugene Jarecki
DVD Release Date: June 27, 2006
Runtime: 1hr 39min
Studio: Sony Pictures
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