Review: Why We Fight
The word "testosterone" is never heard in response to the question of Why We Fight in Eugene Jarecki's documentary of that name. Ordinary American citizens mostly answer "Freedom" and experts mostly say "Money."
|Ah, for the good ol' days of Commie paranoia.|
Jarecki's film examines the growth of the "military-industrial complex" since Pres. Eisenhower, a Republican and former general, warned about it in his farewell address of January 17, 1961.
The documentary has been said to be balanced, which it is if your idea of balance is to let your opponents speak enough to look like liars and fools. But that's OK: I'm on Jarecki's side.
Wilton Sekzer, a retired New York cop who lost a son in the World Trade Center bombing, speaks of his disillusionment on learning the President had lied about our reasons for starting a war with Iraq. The pilots who flew the stealth bombers on the opening salvo describe their mission, after which we see the results and learn how imprecise "precision bombs" can be.
Eager young recruit William Solomon joins the Army. Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who worked for the Department of Defense, says she won't let her sons serve in the military. Dan Rather speaks out against government manipulation of the press.
Dick Cheney's links with Halliburton are examined, with attendant denials from Cheney and others. Former CIA worker Chalmers Johnson explains the concept of "blowback," retaliation for a covert act that leaves civilians mystified because they don't know the context.
Eisenhower looks like a liberal in retrospect. According to testimony from his son and granddaughter and historians, he opposed Truman's use of atomic bombs on Japan, which could have been avoided if Truman hadn't wanted to frighten Russia ; and Eisenhower tried to keep defense spending down in the 1950s, itemizing the positive things the money could be spent for.
But defense contractors had learned there was money to be made and there was no turning back. They spread their operations into all the states so congresspersons would support them for the sake of jobs in their own districts. Today, think-tanks write our national policies and rationalizations for those policies.
Someone boils it down to a "struggle between capitalism and democracy...and capitalism is winning."
Neither as entertaining as a Michael Moore film, nor as dry and didactic as it might be, Why We Fight is thoroughly engrossing. It makes its point and gives you plenty of reasons to fight...against the war.
Steve Warren is a local actor and film reviewer. His reviews can also be seen weekly in the Sunday Paper.