When the World Trade Center in New York came down, it is almost natural that revenge is on the minds of the families of the unfortunate victims, to seek justice and to dish punishment out to the perpetrators. But what happens if under the guise of justice, it becomes a catalyst to spearhead some other hidden agenda by the powers that be, of getting a foothold and a more permanent military presence in the Middle East?
While American forces (with the assistance of the Northern Alliance) entered Afghanistan to flush out the Taliban and the Al Qaeda as a direct response to 9/11, most folks scratched their heads when a flimsy link to Iraq was made, and I remember staying up late (in this part of the world) to watch then US Secretary of State Colin Powell present "compelling evidence" that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and it is in US interest to strike pre-emptively. Well, we know what happened after that and the state that Iraq is in now, but Eugene Jarecki's documentary presented evidence, in a quick recap of Mid-East history of US involvement, that in fact Saddam's inventory had been provided for by none other than the US herself, with Donald Rumsfeld the broker.
Talk about putting her foreign policy in bad light. Why We Fight punches through and asks many questions on that policy, whether it is leaning towards a new modern day imperialism, projected throughout the world through the strength of the American military might. No doubt being the sole superpower as of now, the US had probably taken upon herself to be the World's Policeman, but these lofty ideals of spreading truth, justice and freedom could be easily manipulated by those in power. As the adage goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
And the warning came as early as when former US President Dwight D Eisenhower (who himself was a decorated general leading the Allied Forces in WWII) was about to leave office after his 2nd term. He had warned of the military-industrial complex, if left unchecked by an active citizenry, will bring about what had already come true in modern history.
The business of war is never straightforward, and it becomes more complex when the political-corporate-military unholy triangle, continues to feed off each other in mutual benefit, but at what cost? As the documentary The Corporation had pointed out, the power welded by corporations are nothing to be scoffed at, and naturally to the multi-billion dollar defense industry, war is big bucks - the more guns and bullets they sell, the larger the revenue and profits, and to spur buying, the threat of the bogeyman must continue to exist, and there must come a point in time when stock must be expended. Like Lt Col Tall (Nick Nolte) in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line, war to a career soldier means opportunity for personal glory and promotion. And Corporations are smart to employ plenty in multiple states for a war machinery, so that any cut in demand will result in job losses, something that politicians would try to avoid if they need votes to sustain their presence in ivory towers.
There was a time when the answer to Why We Fight was simply for Freedom, but nowadays, even that simple answer seems to be shrouded with uncertainty. This documentary is highly recommended and is a must-watch, especially since it presented its arguments, and warning, in a very succinct manner, taking multiple viewpoints from those who had been in and out of the system. No wonder that it won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
The Code 1 by Sony Pictures Classics is presented in anamorphic widescreen format, and audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 English. No subtitles are available in English though, and only in French, Spanish and Portuguese. Although it is one disc, a number of special features were packed into it, starting with the theatrical trailer (1:55), and a filmmaker commentary with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson.
Extra Scenes that couldn't make it to the main narrative were included in this section, with a look at Eisenhower's rise in Ike's Evolution (9:51) containing interviews with his descendants, The Missing "C" (4:40), multiple clips off Frank Capra's original Why We Fight series of propaganda clips (5:15), an examination into the fallacy of precision bomb accuracy in The Dangerous Illusion of Precision Guidance (5:41), and a look at What You Can Do (4:34).
Some of the characters seen in the documentary are covered in a little more depth in a separate Characters section, with Wilton Remembers Jason (1:17) where Wilton commemorates the memory of his son Jason with a street sign rather than with a bomb to be dropped on Iraq, William and the YO (Youth Oriented) TV, the kid who signs up with the military (5:18), Karen's Story (3:16) telling how she can no longer betray her conscience and quit the Pentagon, Frankin "Chuck" Spinney (2:14) and Chalmers' Evolution (1:43).
To wrap the special features, we hear more from director-writer Eugene Jarecki, with his Audience Q&A covering questions such as What Do You Hope To Achieve (2:20), Doesn't America Need Defense (3:22), How Did You Meet Wilton (2:24) and What Do High School Kids Think (5:17), which had an interesting answer from the audience when asked what they would do should a Draft be issued. Two TV appearances in The Daily Show with John Stewart (7:04) and Charlie Rose (9:00) offers a more in depth discussion with the director.