Why We Fight (2005)

Genres - Culture & Society  |   Sub-Genres - Military & War, Politics & Government, Social Issues  |   Release Date - Jan 20, 2006 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - Canada , United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Eugene Jarecki's documentary Why We Fight takes its name from a series of propaganda films made by Frank Capra during World War II, which were designed to support the American war effort. But Jarecki has quite a different agenda now than Capra had then. Why We Fight is unambiguously anti-war, but unlike some 21st century anti-war documentaries, it doesn't exist just to hang the Bush administration out to dry. To be certain, Jarecki's film criticizes the faulty reasoning behind invading Iraq as stridently as anyone out there, specifically, Vice President Dick Cheney's connection to a company (Halliburton) that would directly profit from this invasion. But it presents another conservative president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, as the sage voice of reason underpinning the whole film, with his prescient warnings about "the military-industrial complex" -- in other words, a self-perpetuating war machine that burrows into the capitalist fabric of the country, independent of political parties and unaccountable at the polls. Meanwhile, Jarecki notes that Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, used intelligence to justify military engagement in Vietnam that was just as flimsy as Bush's search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Why We Fight is an excellent balance between history lesson and current events, and it makes its case compellingly through the facts presented and the people interviewed -- most of whom agree with Jarecki's perspective, but some of whom do not (such as conservative hawk Richard Perle). Most memorable among the interviewees, from a standpoint of journalistic fairness, are the Iraqi citizens whom Jarecki went to the trouble of interviewing in their own backyard. Their presence adds one more voice to the debate, a voice that even the most conscientious of Jarecki's peers might have overlooked. Why We Fight is a highly illuminating portrait of a national psychology, full of sobering truths.