Why We Fight explores the rise and consequences of the Military Industrial Complex, as warned about in President Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address of 1961: "...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."
This speech, according to director Eugene Jarecki's film, is disturbingly prophetic and his film aims to fulfil another part of Eisenhower's speech: "Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
Jarecki attempts to achieve Eisenhower's goal of an "alert and knowledgeable citizenry" through the use of many talking heads, from those on both the political right and left, such as John McCain and Richard Perle, Gore Vidal and most interestingly, former CIA analyst turned academic, Chalmers Johnson. Despite the fact that Jarecki was attempting to fulfil an American, Republican president's farewell wishes, he was unable to raise a single dollar towards the funding of this film in the United States, with the exception of the Sundance Institute.
Why We Fight is an important documentary, taking a calm approach to an important subject, through the use of first hand interviews and plentiful archival footage. This deserves to be seen by as many people as possible because when director Jarecki asks American citizens "Why we fight?", the answer in the documentary is uniformly "freedom" but the interviewees are unable to provide any more depth than that, as if the response to the question is some indoctrinated automatic mantra (curiously, "Why We Fight" is also the title of Frank Capra's propaganda films of the Second World War).
This film is highly recommended for those interested in subjects such as the Military Industrial Complex of course, the American Empire, foreign policy and the shift from a Cold War posture to a post-Cold War footing and what is often referred to as pre- and post-9/11 thinking.