October 06, 2005

Why We Fight

Reviewed by Martin Tsai at the 24th Vancouver International Film Festival

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist,” former U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower warned in his 1961 farewell address. “We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.” That stark caution has turned out to be prophetic, and the documentary Why We Fight examines the monster created by contractors, corporations, think tanks, lobbyists and politicians. Because a standing military generates thousands of jobs and millions of dollars, the country must continue to engage in unnecessary wars under false pretenses to sustain the industry.

Even though it's one of the most popular titles at the VIFF, the timing of Why We Fight is off. As Gore Vidal points out, we’re living in the United States of Amnesia. Despite the fact that the film is no less relevant than Bowling for Columbine and The Fog of War, its subject no longer interests certain viewers. In an overheard heated exchange among festival goers, someone of the conservative persuasion reflexively dismissed Why We Fight as “liberal propaganda” and therefore unworthy of his time. Director Eugene Jarecki (The Trials of Henry Kissinger) actually maintains the balance with his choice of interviewees from across the political spectrum, but the overwhelming evidence and the conclusion presented in the film apparently are not enough to change many minds in this divisive political climate.

© Copyright 2005 Martin Tsai. All rights reserved.