This is a complex anti-war film. I recommend all lefties and righties see it. It's sort of a civics class.
Its main thesis was articulated by President Dwight Eisenhower, who was no peacenik. As a former US general, Eisenhower was deeply familiar with how the agendas of military contractors meshed with the agenda of a vast standing army to form one large mutually self-reinforcing force called the "military-industrial complex" -- a term he coined. This complex was hard to vote against, and therefore hard to constrain. By the end of his term Eisenhower was sincerely alarmed by its influence. He felt that if unchecked it threaten to overtake the interests of a democracy.
To illustrate Eisenhower's fear of a military-industrial complex gone berserk this film traces its unequivocal expansion since Eisenhower. It retells recent US wars, chiefly Iraq, in the language of the ones who benefit most from the wars. When we fight, they win. Do we fight so that they can win? The filmmakers don't deal with alternative or supplemental reasons for "why we fight," so their case is not a balanced trial. But it is a very informative and eye-opening argument. I found it convincing enough that it moved me to agree with President Eisenhower. We should be alarmed by the complex's power since it gains so much when we fight. The film is a little preachy, suggesting that in order to purify "why we fight" we need to relentlessly push back against this entrenched system which often hides its self-interest in a flag. The desires of the military-industrial complex are not the only reason why we fight, but as this film makes so visible and plain, it can easily become the only reason if we aren't vigilant.
Why We Fight
By Eugene Jarecki
2005, 98 min.
Rent from Netflix
Available from Amazon