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Why We Fight (2006)

Gore Vidal , John McCain , Eugene Jarecki  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Gore Vidal, John McCain, Ken Adelman, John Ashcroft, Osama bin Laden
  • Directors: Eugene Jarecki
  • Writers: Eugene Jarecki
  • Producers: Eugene Jarecki, Alessandra Meyer, Hans Robert Eisenhauer, Julie Fischer, Mette Hoffman Meyer
  • Format: AC-3, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 27, 2006
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FBH3W2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,309 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Why We Fight" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by director Eugene Jarecki and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson
  • Extra scenes
  • Extended character featurettes
  • Audience Q&A with filmmaker
  • Filmmaker TV appearances: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Charlie Rose
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Sundance Film Festival,  Grand Jury Prize, Winner, 2005

Editorial Reviews

Fans of Oliver Stone's J.F.K. will recognize the opening moments of writer-director Eugene Jarecki's Why We Fight, in which outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower warns of the pernicious and growing influence of what he called the "military-industrial complex." But Stone's movie, which uses the same footage, was a work of fiction. While those who disagree with the decidedly leftist point of view in this documentary will probably consider it the product of paranoid liberal fantasy as well, there's enough credible material, much of it supplied by the targets of Jarecki's criticisms, to make Eisenhower look like a prophet and everyone else uneasy about the dark confluence of politics, money, and war that controls the country's fortunes. The message here is that while there may be some who sincerely believe that America's various military engagements (in Iraq, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere) since World War II are the product of our God-given duty to spread freedom and halt the influence of evil ideologies around the world, the real reason we fight is that war is good business. This is hardly a bulletin; anyone who is surprised by allegations that politicians pander to defense contractors, or that Vice President Dick Cheney helped secure huge deals for Halliburton, the company he formerly headed, simply hasn't been paying attention (Politicians lie? How shocking!). In fact, the principal drawback to Jarecki's film is simply that there's nothing particularly revelatory or compelling about it. Only when he takes a personal approach does he go beyond the obvious; the story of a retired New York policeman and former Vietnam veteran whose son died in the World Trade Center, who wanted revenge, but who became seriously disillusioned when Bush admitted that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, adds some much needed human interest. Still, Why We Fight, which includes a director's audio commentary track and a few other bonus features, serves as a grim reminder that the world's most powerful nation has strayed far from the principles of our founding fathers, a development that does not bode well for America's future. --Sam Graham

Product Description

Why We Fight is the provocative new documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Eugene Jarecki (The Trials of Henry Kissinger) and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

Named after the series of short films by legendary director Frank Capra that explored America’s reasons for entering World War II, Why We Fight surveys a half-century of military conflicts, asking how – and answering why – a nation of, by and for the people has become the savings-and-loan of a government system whose survival depends on an Orwellian state of constant war.

The Why We Fight DVD features interviews and observations by a "who’s who" of military and Washington insiders including Senator John McCain, Gore Vidal, and Dan Rather. Beginning with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s prescient 1961 speech warning of the rise of the "military industrial complex," Why We Fight moves far beyond the headlines of various American military operations to the deeper questions of why America seemingly is always at war. What are the forces – political, economic, and ideological – that drive us to clash against an ever-changing enemy? Just why does America fight? Unforgettable, powerful and at times disturbing, Why We Fight on DVD will challenge viewers long after the last fade-out.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
450 of 517 people found the following review helpful
With great pain in my heart, for some time now I have been forced to admit that the United States government is no longer a power for good in the world. This film confirms that and explains why: the increasing hegemony of the military-industrial-congressional complex. The film brilliantly details the problems facing democracy today caused by this behemoth. I wish it had been equally as brilliant in suggesting a way out and a solution, but the first step in treating a disease is to accurately diagnose it.

Shortly after 9/11 I became aware once more of the increasing influence of the military industry and militarism in American life when Bush proclaimed that we were at war with the forces of terrorism. I found this alarming in part because it was obvious that the act perpetuated by bin Laden's men was not an instance of state-sponsored terrorism, and therefore there was no army or even nation with which we could engage. It was very similar to the terrorist killings of the Israeli Olympic Team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. The Israelis properly understood that the correct reaction was what was in fact a long, painstaking police investigation. They knew there was no "war" and no army to attack. I was deeply upset by Bush's declaration of war partly because I feared (correctly, it turned out) that he would engage on a series of military adventures that were largely irrelevant to 9/11 and partly because it meant that the U.S. would not be focused on actually dealing with the terrorists (something else I was unfortunately correct about).

What we have seen since 9/11 is the intense and ongoing engagement of America's military in further attempts to dictate world policy through militarism and war.
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202 of 234 people found the following review helpful
This is a powerful and disturbing film, examining how the military-industrial complex (which President Eisenhower warned us about upon departing office in 1961) has twisted American's foreign policy for its own ends. The film-maker clearly has an agenda in terms of criticizing American foreign policy, but the film actually provides a fairly convincing case about the numerous conflicts of interests that exist and its negative effects. Whether you agree or not with all the film's conclusions, it raises issues that ought to be the topic of earnest and honest debate. I had earlier posted this review to the DVD of this important film, but for whatever reasons Amazon shifted it to the Frank Capra film of the same title!
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118 of 138 people found the following review helpful
I expected this movie to be an anti-war propaganda piece. But actually it was much better than that. It is a documentary based on a series of interviews with people from a variety of political perspectives, both liberal and conservative. The film does have a distinct point of view which considers American militarism to be a dangerous global threat based on economic self-interest and political power. But at least the "bad guys", such as Richard Perles and William Kristol, are allowed to speak for themselves and present their opinions as to why U.S. military might is a benevolent force. Still the brightest and most insightful comments come from those, such as historian Gywnne Dyer, who are questioning the military's intentions and outcomes. John McCain also comes across as an eloquent voice, someone who is both highly knowledgable of the military and concernced about it's imperialistic ambitions.

I also thought the film would be more specifically about the war in Iraq. But instead it offers a broader historical analysis of America's many post-World War II conflicts, such as the "Cold War" and the Vietnam War. Dwight Eisenhower is depicted as a sort of unlikely hero for peaceniks, having warned of the dangers of the the "military-industrial complex" in his famous farewell speech. The movie then goes on to show how America developed a standing army and began it's massive military build up to combat the Soviet Union while using the fear of Communism to justify numerous military interventions throughout the world. Of course, some attention is also directed towards the current conflict in Iraq and Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield and their cohorts come across as the lying buffons that they are, generating numerous outbursts of scorn and ridicule from the audience.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars we didn't listen June 13, 2007
In his farewell address to the nation on January 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower warned the country about the "disastrous rise of misplaced power" and the "grave implications" of the military-industrial complex. Today our country has 700 military bases in 60 countries, and in any given year will conduct "operations" of some sort in 170 countries. This documentary purports to show the breadth and depth of American militarism, that, for example, it is by no means limited to one president or administration. Instead, it's a thinly veiled and very effective attack on Bush and the Iraq war, which is important in its own right (not to mention an easy target). But the film could have accomplished so much more if it had fulfilled its promise to cast a broader net, as Andrew Bacevich does in The New American Militarism and Stephen Kinzer does in Overthrow. George Washington and James Madison both issued strident warnings about standing armies. Watching Halliburton's war-profiteering and the interview with the director of the Baghdad morgue in this film filled me with anger and sadness at how little our governments have heeded their words, whether in the Iraq disaster or all the way back to Eisenhower who as a general experienced the real human toll of war.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A mind opener
This is the material Bill Gaede has to have access from to write a book and not the ones he wrote full of inconsistencies. Read more
Published 9 days ago by VICTOR GAEDE
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and excellent film...
This was a thought provoking and excellent film. It changed my perception of our overseas conflicts. Also, the seller was great and my DVD arrived promptly.
Published 1 month ago by M. M. OCallaghan
4.0 out of 5 stars Bill O'Reilly Would NOT Have Said This
Hey, there is the right, and then there is the left. Gore Vidal should have let that William Buckley guy punch him in the face, so he could lean across the way and strangle the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Carioca56
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done Documentary
Well done documentary. Something for everyone who believes their country is fighting the good fight and wouldn't do anything wrong.
Published 2 months ago by Darrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Why We Fight .... A must see by all ~~~
This is my second copy of this revealing and informative work into the truth of what besets us all by Gore Vidal. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Natalie Shubrook
5.0 out of 5 stars Information suppressed.
Should be viewed by every tax paying American. Institutionalized and legitimized theft and sanctioned waste.
A warning that was not heeded that continues today.
Published 6 months ago by Franz
5.0 out of 5 stars Should Be Given Free to Every School in America
This is a very good attempt to show how the American public the truth about why America loves to go to war in distant lands. Because it is very profitable for some. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Peter Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars great
eye opening, to the true state of affairs in this country. Stop keeping up with the Kardaihings (I don't give a s*** about spelling the name correctly) and take a good look at... Read more
Published 6 months ago by firststrike
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think...
Very well done. Raises difficult questions and asks viewers to think about the motivations for war in new ways. Read more
Published 8 months ago by PrettyBlueWord
5.0 out of 5 stars watch it you'll like it
watch it you'll like it, watch it you'll like it, watch it you'll like it, watch it you'll like it. That my reveiw, it was interesting and informative.
Published 9 months ago by Rob
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Topic From this Discussion
Classical Music used in "Why We Fight"
I'd like to know more about the music of "Why We Fight" too. The sad music which accompanies footage of Nazi atrocities in Poland is the second movement from Beethoven's 7th Symphony.

The tune used in "The Battle of Russia" when the Soviet partisans are discussed is... Read more
Sep 2, 2011 by George Carty |  See all 2 posts
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