Why We Fight .
Date: Wednesday, February 01 2006
Topic: Eye on Uncle Sam
Submitted by Ed Deak.
Why We Fight
Go see the movie
The theme of Edward Jarecki's thoughtful yet hard-hitting documentary, Why We Fight, is inspired by President Dwight Eisenhower's famous farewell speech, in which he warns against the rising danger of militarism as an economic system and a mindset:
"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
"In the councils of government, 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."
We segue from old black-and-white footage of Ike inveighing against militarism to the present-day embodiment of precisely what he warned us against: Sen. John McCain burbling that the U.S. government "is the greatest force for good" and therefore "we must spread democracy and freedom throughout the world." One of the great benefits of this film is how badly McCain, who is getting ready to run for president, comes off in it: his hypocrisy in embracing Eisenhower's thesis, while bloviating about the need to intervene everywhere, exposes him for the massive fraud he is.
The scene shifts to John F. Kennedy declaring that we will "pay any price, bear any burden," and on to LBJ, Ronald Reagan, the Great Pantsdropper ("America is making a difference" by invading Kosovo), and our present Boy Emperor ("our cause is just"), all glorying in America's role as the imperial hegemon with a heart of gold, the global lawgiver and policeman all rolled into one - with neoconservative smarty-pants Bill Kristol averring that "we fight because it's necessary and it's right."
It isn't all talking pundit-heads, however: On Sept. 11, 2001, Wilton Sekzer was on an elevated subway train coming into downtown New York when the car made an abrupt turn around the bend and the passengers were suddenly confronted with the sight of the World Trade Center on fire. Sekzer, a retired NYPD officer, clearly remembers his first thoughts as if they were etched in fire on the inside of his brain, and he details his mental narrative here - and throughout the film - as a kind of personal link to the catalytic event that started the Iraq ball rolling. As that ball begins to careen out of control, there is a sadness in Sekzer's eyes, a pathos to his story, as he tells it, a look of bewilderment on his face - and a growing anger. He describes his anger at the sight of the burning building, and his hope - processed as certain knowledge - that his son, who worked in the Towers, had somehow gotten out of there.