I suspect how one reacts to this documentary will reveal one's
political beliefs. The main theme of Eugene Jarecki's nonfiction movie
is that we are currently involved in a conflict in Iraq because since
World War II, the United States has been at somewhere in the world
-- either overtly or covertly -- since then. The film starts with the
final address by outgoing president Dwight D. Eisenhower who coined
the term the "military-industrial complex." Eisenhower's words were
meant as a warning to the people -- to not allow conflicts of interest
to become the norm. Fast forward some forty-five years and what
Eisenhower predicted has come to pass.

 That in a nutshell is the gist of
WHY WE FIGHT. Jarecki attempts
to shine a light on American foreign policy over the last six decades
but except for confirmation from a former CIA official, most of what
he covers is already out there. Other filmmakers have gotten there,
other writers have detailed the complex relationship between the
U.S. military and the business that seek government contracts.
Those on the right will argue that there is no collusion despite the
appearances of impropriety that in another era would have been
grounds for investigation (criminal or otherwise), at least according
to those on the left.

 There's a cautionary tale among the few stories Jarecki
opts to explore. On September 11, 2001, New York policeman
Wilton Sekzer witnessed the collapse of the World Trade Center
knowing that his son Jason was at work in one of the towers.
Angry with grief, he embraces the government's position that Iraq
is harboring Al-Queda terrorists. He even writes and requests that
his son's name be painted on the side of one of the bombs, a
tradition he recalled from his own service during the Vietnam
conflict. When he gradually learns that there really was no connection
between Iraq and the terrorists, his disillusion is palpable. He is
again filled with anger -- this time at being lied to by the government
he was trained to support and accept.

WHY WE FIGHT makes its points but like many politically-themed
documentaries, it is a matter of preaching to the choir. Jarecki does
hit a few targets and turns Eisenhower (of all people) into a
prophet. The movie is enjoyable to watch but there is really not
much that hasn't been said by others.

         Rating:                B -
         MPAA Rating:       None
         Running time:      98 mins.
Why We Fight
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.