Why We Fight

on January 20, 2006 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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America's military-industrial complex is a profoundly difficult subject that's unfortunately given a simplistic treatment in Eugene Jarecki's disappointing follow-up to "The Trials of Henry Kissinger," his excellent examination of Kissinger's criminal foreign policies as Secretary of State. Taking off from Dwight Eisenhower's comments made during his farewell speech as President, assailing what he saw as an unduly oppressive military influence on American foreign policy, "Why We Fight" purports to analyze what that meant and how it's applicable today. Unfortunately, Jarecki's take on the issue means forcing the 'facts' to fit his views. Essentially, he's against all U.S. military actions but, more significantly, he conflates them. Therefore, the 1999 U.S. intervention into Kosovo, which was undertaken to save Muslim lives, is rendered the same as the CIA's 1950s role in toppling Iran's democratically elected government. Iraq is also compared more than once to Vietnam, even though the circumstances for American involvement in the former is very different from that of the latter.

"Why We Fight" doesn't even attempt to offer balanced views from the right and the left. There are a couple of token right-wingers, whose views, such as political advisor Richard Perle's denial of vice president Cheney's ties to the Haliburton oil company, are soundly rebuffed. Jarecki, however, doesn't challenge writer Gore Vidal's equally questionable assertion that Imperial Japan's offers to surrender during the summer of 1945 weren't accepted because President Truman wanted to drop the A bomb to send a message to the Soviets. Unlike "The Trials of Henry Kissinger," "Why We Fight" is neither fair nor convincing. Directed by Eugene Jarecki. Produced by Eugene Jarecki and Susannah Shipman. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Documentary. Rated PG-13 for disturbing war images and brief language. Running time: 98 min

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