Sep 2, 2006

Why We Fight

We have become the United States of Amnesia
Gore Vidal
Why We fight, Eugene Jarecki's 2005 documentary, dryly examines the transformation of America after WWII to a well-oiled war machine. It's name coincidentally (or not) is shared by WWII propaganda produced by the legendary Frank Capra.

The film gives us a look at Eisenhower we may not have gleaned from our text books in public schools or from our first look at John Birch Society hysterics on various internet sites.

We are given a view of our current foreign policy as a progression beginning from the vast buildup of the "military-industrial complex" - a term coined by Eisenhower - during and afer WWII. There may be a colorable argument to suggest that this corporate love fest between Congress, the Pentagon and private interests, began long before WWII, according to Smedley Butler. However, since this film was produced by the Eisenhower Project, we can't necessarily fault them for failing to find somebody who warned us about the usurpation of foreign policy by politicians and private interests long before Eisenhower.

This film deftly weaves pictures which reveal the incestuous nature of foreign policy think tanks, politicians and giant defense contractors (corporations) with personal stories from those involved in designing bombs, delivering those bombs and even dedicating those bombs to victims of the attacks on 9/11/2001.

One of the more more effective personal stories is that of William Sekzer, retired New York Police officer and former Viet Nam Veteran who lost his son, Jason M. Sekzer, when the World Trade Center towers collapsed.

Sekzer was motivated by a need for revenge. In spite of his skepticism over the lies told by LBJ about the Gulf of Tonkin "attack", which marked the largest escalation in US involvement in Viet Nam, Sekzer was supportive of any move by the government to avenge his son. If the government said Iraq was a target, his support was unshakable. It is hard to blame the man. His epiphany arrives the day President Bush announces in response to a reporter that the US never had any evidence linking Saddam with 9/11.

Ahn Duong, a refugee from Saigon, now works at Indianhead Naval Center designing bombs, specifically the "bunker busters" used in the opening salvos of "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

And it is in this arena where the film truly shines. Those who support the war in various ways, are made human to us. For those of us who oppose US hegemony, our first instinct is to brand those who don't see how they are being manipulated as morons. But those who support the war are not just Bush sychophants. Every individual who supports the war, has his own reasons. Some of which can be understood by any of us. The US government's control of the press is as stunning and shrewd as any totalitarian regime preceding it.

But there are also interviews with members of the true "axis of evil", namely, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Bill Kristol. All contributers to PNAC and the so-called "Bush Doctrine."

Interviews with these particular players are perfect. There is no attempt to challenge their statements or their rationalizations. Some might object to this but given the overall premise, their own words and attitudes stand alone as evidence of their ill-will toward anyone objecting to blatant Imperialism.

My only nit with the film is its blithe acceptence of the "terrorists were responsible for the 9/11 attacks" theory. It doesn't necessarily detract from the film, but it would have been even more powerful to mention that PNAC's paper Rebuilding America's Defenses stated:

Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor. -pp 51

In spite of this, I found this film to have done a superb job of exposing Fascism's latest incarnation, even if it wasn't called such. It is entertaining and frightening, but does offer us a means to stop the madness. I'll let you watch the film to find out how.

No comments: