Reviewing: Why We Fight

I just finished watching Eugene Jarecki’s “Why We Fight” that won the 2005 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. It is probably one of, if not the best documentaries on the Iraq war that I have seen to date. The 98 minute documentary however is a bit broader as it looks at American foreign policy with relation to what is now called the Bush Doctrine.

The documentary takes its name from a series of propaganda films done by Frank Capra during the World War 2 era where Jerecki starts off. Truman drops the bomb to launch the war on communism and the US is off to the race tracks. A few years later in his farewell address Eisenhower warns of the rise of the “military-industrial complex”: the emergence of a machine where military fuels economics and economics fuels military and in between foreign policy is reshaped to fight not for entrenched American values but rather profit and dominance.

The concentration is on the Iraq war but Jerecki doesn’t narrate he allows many “characters” to speak for themselves. Each of them in a seemingly unrelated storyline that isn’t fully revealed until the film nears its end. An ex-cop who loses his son on 9/11 and tries to get his name written on the side of a bomb to be dropped in Iraq. Fuji and Tooms, the two pilots sent in to Iraq in the middle of the night to drop the satellite guided bombs that would eventually start the war but also eventually miss their target. A cash strapped teenager who sees joining the army as his only means of survival.

Jerecki goes back and forth between these and many other characters and various politicians, ex-military and scholars all of them filling bits and pieces of information until the bigger picture is complete. He also goes around asking random Americans “Why do we fight?” It’s the answer to this question, or the lack of it, that is so compelling in the context of this film that is documenting a war based on a lie. Other questions unravel themselves like who benefits from war? Who is running the military-industrial complex?

What is so different about this documentary is that for once someone allows everyday Iraqis to have their say on camera. A simple farmer giving his opinion on Americaâ??s future as a superpower; the doctor who received the first wounded in the first week of the war, all civilians he says. A bookkeeper of a Baghdad morgue. The mother of a child who died when those first bombs dropped on the Dora Farms, missing their targets.

The war on Iraq is Eisenhower’s warning coming true and this is what Jerecki documents. The shift in American foreign policy to dominate the world through military force, specifically where it counts: the Middle East.

This is one of the best and most informative documentaries I’ve seen on the subject of Iraq but the fact that the war is put in context of the broader modern policy makes the documentary even more formidable and comprehensive.
It is immensly entertaining and I highly recommend you get your hands on it.

Bottom Line: 5/5

Wikipedia Article
Trailer [quicktime]


  • I’d rather just watch beheading reruns on Al-Jazerra. Or perhaps some of Green Helmet man – the first season. At least that is marketed as propoganda.

  • “An ex-cop who loses his son on 9/11 and tries to get his name written on the side of a bomb to be dropped in Iraq”

    The hallmark of a contemprary society (not to be confused with a civilized society) is the concept of division of labor. In a poor underdeveloped country, citizens take revenge with their own hands to settle scores, and use personal insutls to defame, but in the US and Israel, revenge is a state job (Pentagon, IDF) and defamation is a media job (FOX, Limbaugh,…)

    Next time you meet a nice israel, it’s not because he is fair and civilized, he is nice to you because he is comforted in the knowledge that few days ago, his military wiped out over 1000 Arabs and his media has cut your values and history and faith to pieces under the banner of free expression and speech.

    Next time you see a raging Arab in Gaza or South Lebanon or Iraq, understand that their rage, ugly as it may be on TV, is due to their realization that they will never get justice for the murder of their loved ones, destruction of their property, and loss of their dignity. Civility must never be confused with cold-bloodedness.

  • marcus, lol do you really want to talk about which side is worse at propaganda? is that a conversation that you really want to have?

  • yeah, it says stupid people have a lot of free time on their hands. whatever propeganda took place with hizballah has been trumped a gazilion times over by the US and Israel combined.

    don’t be a poster boy for the turnip truck…you’re better than that

    (i hope)

  • I’ve seen this documentary a while ago. It really made me ask myself:


    The documentary shows that democracy, as practiced today, can easily be hijacked by companies – especially the defense industry complex.

    How can the congress ever deny a contract for a company like Lockheed-Martin, when they have factories in almost every state in the US? denying that contract = lost jobs in that state. Thus, this puts enormous pressure on all congressmen to always lobby for even more contracts to please their constituents.

    Isn’t this similar to “free wheat for every citizen” that marked the demise of the Roman democracy?

    how to fix this?

  • By the roman “free wheat for every citizen”, I meant the political race where Clodius and his political opponents over-bid each other in squandering public moneys on voters. That lead to Clodius’ famous “grain dole”, where EVERY ROMAN CITIZEN got free grain every month. The times of distribution were carefully calculated to affect electoral outcomes.

    for more info

    While the “right to vote” is the minimum right for each citizen, for some it is really too much “responsibility” to handle.

    how to prevent those from voting?
    or, is that the solution?

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