Director:  Eugene Jarecki,
Watched on:  DVD,
Rating:  3/5.  


My hope for Why We Fight is that it will reach all of the homes and especially the high schools that house the future cannon fodder for George Bush’s imperialist army. Perhaps this film and the others like it—An Inconvenient Truth, The Road to Guantanamo, Robert Greenwald’s marketed drive-by documentaries—will end up making a difference after all.  I hope so, because the feeling one gets watching Why We Fight is a great and desperate anger, followed by depression, and then hopelessness. A fun time at the movies it’s not.  But the lessons contained within are essential.

Why We Fight is not great documentary filmmaking. It is snipped and cliff-noted, sound-bited and sanded down into an unemotional and clearly left-leaning treatise. There are way too many talking heads and the supporting footage is scattershot, without real focus or even clear attribution. You’re never quite sure which scenes are new, old, or recreated. But the information is clear-headed and sobering. And the jumping off point for the film is intriguing.

The movie takes its title from the series of World War II propoganda films made by the likes of Frank Capra and John Huston; but its premise comes from a 1961 speech by outgoing president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower was a former general, who oversaw the troops in World War II but disagreed with Truman over the dropping of the bomb on Japan.  He saw a scary thing happening. The emergence of the military-industrial complex essentially as the tail wagging the dog of Congress. He warned against wars of aggression and he cautioned future US governments to not create a global republic that we couldn’t defend. All of which is coming true.

Why We Fight illustrates many of the arguments most of us, if we’re readers of the newspapers and listeners of NPR, are familiar with once we finally pulled the wool off of our eyes that was put there after September 11th. There is little new information for the well-informed. But for the rest of us, for those who still can’t quite wrap their heads around the idea that our government lied to us, and that the whole point of this war was to secure mideast oil reserves and line the pockets of the military-industrial war profiteers, then rent this film and start counting the days until the American Empire crumbles.