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Why We Fight

4.4 out of 5 stars 228 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, WHY WE FIGHT is an unflinching look at the anatomy of American war-making. Granted unparalleled Pentagon access, the film launches a nonpartisan inquiry into the forces -- political, economic, and ideological -- that drive America to fight. Inspired by President Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 Farewell Address in which he warned Americans about the dangers of the "military-industrial complex," filmmaker Jarecki ("The Trials of Henry Kissinger") weaves unforgettable stories of everyday Americans touched by war with commentary by a "who's who" of military and Washington insiders. Featuring John McCain, Gore Vidal, Richard Perle and others, WHY WE FIGHT explores a half-century of U.S. foreign policy from World War II to the Iraq War, revealing how, as Eisenhower warned, political and corporate interests have become alarmingly entangled in the business of war. On a deeper level, what emerges is a portrait of a nation in transition --


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

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

Product Details

  • Actors: Wilton Sekzer, Chalmers Johnson, William Solomon, Gore Vidal
  • Directors: Eugene Jarecki
  • Writers: Eugene Jarecki
  • Producers: Eugene Jarecki, Susannah Shipman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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:
    Parents Strongly Cautioned
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 27, 2006
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FBH3W2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,263 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Why We Fight" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2006
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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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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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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Format: DVD
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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