Monday, August 07, 2006


Why We FightDwight D. Eisenhower Directed by Eugene Jarecki
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



Being relatively well educated, I, of course, had read about Ike’s farewell speech to the nation and his warnings about "the military industrial complex". But I’d never heard the full dialogue until watching WHY WE FIGHT. I’d also never realized how prophetic his speech was until now. Could America be run by the military business machine? With 22 percent of our great nation’s current budget dedicated as such, it shouldn’t surprise many what the answer turns out to be (lets not forget Vice President Dick Cheney’s close "affiliation" with Halliburton, too).

The wonderful thing about the film is that it doesn’t interject the documentary-maker’s opinion. He simply goes up to individuals and asks, "Why do we fight?" The answers are as varied as the faces that grace the screen. Some say, "For freedom." Others shrug and comment, "That’s a very good question." While still others intone, "It’s part of our nature."

From a lowly Vietnam Vet turned cop, to a retired Pentagon official, to Presidential candidates, the camera pans across a broad stroke of Americans with this very basic question. But the answers are anything but basic.

The most telling of these is the Vietnam Vet turned retired police officer who’s son was killed on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. Being a good American and dedicated father, this man asks the military to write his son’s name on one of the bombs being targeted at Iraq. Eventually this happens, but once the truth about Al-qaeda and Iraq surfaces (there wasn’t a connection, per President Bush), he begins to seriously question U.S. policy (both domestic and foreign).

Lines between politics, economy, jobs, morality, and the military are blurred beyond recognition when one watches this award winning documentary. And it’s an excellent way to show how integrated all of these things have become within the American framework and mindset.

One problem: If there’s anything that’s more telling about a country, it’s how it is viewed by its neighbors. I would’ve liked to have seen some interviews with Canadian and Mexican people or authorities (my only negative comment about this superlative film).

Similar movies have come out recently that mirror much of these problems. SYRIANA being one — its focus was on the exact thing that WHY WE FIGHT shows us — and GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK which presented us the dangers of letting government bully us around without explanation. The fascinating relevance of these two films to this one is that SYRIANA and GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK were fiction (GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK wasn’t really, but it WAS Hollywoodized) while WHY WE FIGHT was purely a documentary. That’s what scared me the most. And it’s also why I respect the makers of WHY WE FIGHT. They got their message across stronger than anything with special effects in it.

Click here for the Why We Fight movie trailer!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home