Why We Fight

Last night i watched Why We Fight, a documentary directed by Eugene Jarecki, who also directed The Trials of Henry Kissenger. Why We Fight, in my opinion, is the most important documentary i have ever watched. An often repeated theme in the documentary centers around the farewell address given by President Eisenhower in 1961, in which he warned against the danger of the close-knit relationship between the military and the defense industries, using the term military-industrial complex.

According to the wikipedia, “in the penultimate draft of the address, Eisenhower initially used the term military-industrial-congressional complex, indicating the essential role that U.S. Congress plays in propagating the military industry.” But to “avoid offending members of the legislative branch of the federal government”, it is said that the president chose to remove the word congressional. In the film, Jarecki successfully demonstrated the worrisome relationship among the defense industries, The Pentagon and the United States Congress. For example, in Why We Fight, Chalmers Johnson notes that the B-2 bombers have parts made in all 50 states and if someone dares to phase it out, even the most liberal members of the congress would be “howling” for heads to roll.

The film also exposes a fourth element in the military-industrial-congressional-complex – the think-tankers. Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski witnessed how our foreign policies, especially regarding Iraq, were dictated by the neoconservative think-tankers like Richard Perl, Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol that were brought into the Pentagon. In a way, Eisenhower’s worst nightware came true: Former military officers, think-tankers, lobbyists, and politicians are spinning through the revolving door between public and private sectors to serve on the boards or as executives of corporations that do business with the Pentagon. A prime example is Dick Cheney, who was a Congressman, a Secretary of Defense, and then the Chairman and CEO of Halliburton, prior to becoming the current Vice President.

There is no doubt Why We Fight has an agenda in criticizing American foreign policy, but the film provides a very convincing case about the existence of numerous conflicts of interests and its detrimental effects. This is one important film that should not be missed. A lot of reviews have been written about this film and i am not going to dwell on it more. For those interested in the reviews:

For those in the Seattle area, Why We Fight is currently being shown at the Landmark Neptune Theatre.

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