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5 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Why We Fight
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by Matt Mulcahey

"For freedom, you commie pansy."
4 stars

If you currently have a “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Kerry” or “More Trees, Less Bush” bumper sticker adorning your hybrid car, this left-leaning documentary exploring the United States’ imperialistic foreign policy and questioning the motives behind America’s second Iraq invasion is for you.

Taking its title from It’s a Wonderful Life director Frank Capra’s series of morale-boosting propagandistic training films crafted during the second World War, Why We Fight opens with President Dwight E. Eisenhower warning the American people of the growing military-industrial complex during his farewell speech in January of 1961. Eisenhower presciently cautioned that the amount of the national budget spent on maintaining a standing army combined with the significant profits created for large corporations all but guaranteed the necessity of continued warfare.

Director Eugene Jarecki, who previously explored the United States’ foreign policy track record with the 2002 doc The Trials of Henry Kissinger, perfunctorily touches upon World War II (long enough to question Harry Truman’s motives for dropping the atomic bomb) and Vietnam for the sake of camouflaging Why We Fight as a balanced history of America’s shift from isolationism to imperialism. Early bids for impartiality aside (Jarecki offers up barely credible former Bush Defense Department appointee Richard Perle to speak for right-wingers against a landslide of interviews with moderate to liberal politicians and pundits), the film is essentially “Why We Fight in Iraq.”

The movie is above all else an indictment of the current administration’s misleading justifications for the ongoing Iraq conflict. Jarecki’s agenda is more covert than the unabashed propaganda of a Michael Moore, but he is far from above using manipulative human interest pieces (interviews with Iraqi civilians victimized by collateral damage from “smart bombs”) or offering unsubstantiated allegations (the same old Dick Cheney/Halliburton insinuations).

For Jarecki, the question posed by his film’s title is a rhetorical one, and one that in no way involves bringing freedom to the Iraqi people or diffusing a future threat presented by Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Jarecki posits that the plans for the Iraqi invasion were in the works by the Bush Administration prior to September 11, and that tragedy merely gave them an opportunity to carry out standing plans for securing America’s financial and political interest in the Middle East.

It’s the same anti-Bush conspiracy theories that have been put forth since the early days of the last Presidential race, and quite frankly anyone who has already picked a side in the great Red vs. Blue state debate isn’t going to be swayed from their soapbox by Why We Fight.

The testimony of a retired air force veteran (Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski) present during the Pentagon’s pre-war public relations blitz and the emotional tale of a New York City cop (Wilton Sekzer) who lost his son in the September 11 attacks both add a human face to Jarecki’s thesis, but without newer, more compelling evidence to support his claims Jarecki is basically preaching to the liberal choir while giving conservatives another film to dismiss before they even bother to see it.

Only as the end credits draw near does Jarecki finally make a plea for unity. In closing, Jarecki returns to the words of Eisenhower, echoing the former President’s warnings that our government leaders may someday become beholden to big business rather than their constituents. Eisenhower stated that only a vigilant, informed and knowledgeable citizenry could prevent this military-industrial complex from hijacking our nation’s priorities. If only more passionately politicized films such as Why We Fight could get past partisan bashing and realize that America’s abduction by corporate interest is not a Red vs. Blue problem but a green problem, maybe we could all begin to move closer to becoming that sort of citizenry.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11213&reviewer=255
originally posted: 07/06/06 01:52:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/13/09 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
11/29/08 CTT Another anti-Bush/Cheney/military "documentary" (propaganda); enough already! 1 stars
7/02/07 Tanya g wonderful movie, informative about the past and present 4 stars
3/28/07 fools♫gold Says nothing life-changing to me. Hell, "Farenheit 9/11" was (way) better. 2 stars
1/21/07 Patrick This is a brilliantly made docu, a true "must-see" 5 stars
9/11/06 David Well researched & presented, so it's obviously 'anti-american' 4 stars
9/04/06 Ken Rivard It is political to the core.I would suspect Michael Moore is in the background.And it is on 2 stars
8/16/06 Mary Beth should appeal to most; not just the left 4 stars
7/24/06 shane swank good doc..Like spending the eve.reading myspace friends bulletins for a couple of hours.Pre 4 stars
7/14/06 michael take a look so hopefully more of you will wake up what's going on, former US Army 5 stars
3/30/06 Soha Molina good movie 4 stars
12/18/05 Thane Doss Eisenhower's warning is its thesis, and the movie demonstrates the thesis--hardly leftist. 4 stars
10/02/05 Al Reid Fantastic doc, worthy of wide theatrical release 5 stars
9/30/05 Øyvind Tverå Very precise rendering of American foreign policy, with hard cold supporting facts. 5 stars
9/29/05 Dimitri Papastavrou Superb film 5 stars
9/24/05 bl spread the word! 5 stars
8/24/05 Brian Staightforward and to the point. Former US Navy 5 stars
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  DVD: 27-Jun-2006



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