Frank Capra's Award Winning Documentary! In December 1941, a hesitant America was forced into WWII by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This award winning series, created by legendary director Frank Capra, was sponso... more »red by the U.S. Government to help explain its "official war policy." These films were required viewing for the armed forces and were also widely shown in civilian theaters. Considered classic examples of wartime propaganda, they feature masterful editing, classical music, and skillful narration all blended together to hammer home their patriotic message.« less
Should be viewed by anyone who wants America to be a moral n
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 03/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With great pain in my heart, for some time now I have been forced to admit that the United States government is no longer a power for good in the world. This film confirms that and explains why: the increasing hegemony of the military-industrial-congressional complex. The film brilliantly details the problems facing democracy today caused by this behemoth. I wish it had been equally as brilliant in suggesting a way out and a solution, but the first step in treating a disease is to accurately diagnose it.
Shortly after 9/11 I became aware once more of the increasing influence of the military industry and militarism in American life when Bush proclaimed that we were at war with the forces of terrorism. I found this alarming in part because it was obvious that the act perpetuated by bin Laden's men was not an instance of state-sponsored terrorism, and therefore there was no army or even nation with which we could engage. It was very similar to the terrorist killings of the Israeli Olympic Team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. The Israelis properly understood that the correct reaction was what was in fact a long, painstaking police investigation. They knew there was no "war" and no army to attack. I was deeply upset by Bush's declaration of war partly because I feared (correctly, it turned out) that he would engage on a series of military adventures that were largely irrelevant to 9/11 and partly because it meant that the U.S. would not be focused on actually dealing with the terrorists (something else I was unfortunately correct about).
What we have seen since 9/11 is the intense and ongoing engagement of America's military in further attempts to dictate world policy through militarism and war. Although this has never previously been an effective tool of government as seen in hosts of previous world empires, and in fact has always signaled the beginning of the end of the predominance of a nation in world affairs (Paul Kennedy's marvelous THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GREAT POWERS examined this in 1987 and predicted then that America's expanding militarism would begin America's international decline), the Bush administrations Neocon foreign policy is yet another instance of people being unwilling to profit from the lessons of history.
This film tells several stories. On one level it tells the story of the growing and expanding military industry that first developed in the wake of WW II and continued throughout the Cold War. On another it tells of the increasing complicity of government and congress in allowing this industry to control and shape national policies. Although America kept no large standing army until the advent of WW II, we now always maintain as a matter of course an inconceivably vast military. As they point out in the film, over half of the money spent by Congress is on the military (some doubting this will look up the budget approved by the Congress each year and see that military spending takes up usually between 28% and 35% of the annual budget, but this ignores discretionary spending, almost all of which goes to the military, and which is the reason why we spend more on the military than all other programs combined). Whatever else one wants to say about the Founders, they clearly never envisioned a situation where most of the nation's resources was going to maintaining a vast army, navy, and air force.
The documentary also deals with the necessity of an aggressive military posture due to this vast military industry. It would be difficult to justify keeping a vast military apart from any actual military conflicts, which explains why we deploy our military in so many petty military operations, and in the case of Iraq, a large one, though against a weak foe. This of course leads to vast profits for the military industry, and as Chalmers Johnson brilliantly remarks in the film, "When war becomes that profitable, you're going to see a lot more of it." Right now it appears that the Bush people have wrongly estimated how much militarism the general population will tolerate, but this is apt to cause merely a temporary lull, not a permanent retreat from attempting military solutions to political situations.
The most upsetting part of the film deals with the complicity of Congress in tolerating this situation. While our elected representatives ought to be leading the movement to reduce the size and influence of the military in our lives, they are in fact protecting it. The film deals with weapons systems that intentionally have parts built in every state, so that representatives from every state will support them in order to protect the jobs the contracts bring. What distresses me is what we lose by devoting so much money to the military. Any sane individual knows that military--as opposed to terrorist, which are not the same things--threats to the US are currently close to nonexistent. Yet we build this massive military that only causes harm to the rest of the world and ill will and hatred to the US. In the many clips of Eisenhower, he at one point mentions that single bombers equal in cost two schools or a hospital or any of a number of other social services. I look in awe at the remarkable system of social services that has been created in the European Union nations, a system that results in a standard of living that surpasses what one finds in the United States. Although the United States has a far larger economy, why are we not able to have quality education for all Americans? Why no universal healthcare? Why do we not have jobs programs to guarantee employment to all Americans? Why are American workers restricted to only two or three weeks of vacation a year, while many Europeans get six to eight? It is because we devote such a vast amount of our economy to the military. Europeans, on the other hand, devote a comparatively small amount.
I consider this a must-see documentary for every American. And I hope that we can do something to resist the beast. To be honest, I don't think there is much that we can do and my fear is that what we will see is no reductions in the size of the military until the inevitable economic collapse of the United States. That was what happened to all the other empires in history after their constantly expanding military led to their end. I see no reason why it will end differently for the United States. I think the shift in power in the 21st century will go towards the E.U. and China. The only hope for the U.S is a halt to the vast military expansion. The film ends with a woman who had retired as a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force after becoming disenchanted with the campaign of misinformation that preceded the invasion of Iraq. She expresses the hope that people will just start refusing to go into the military. I personally believe that Americans currently have a patriotic duty not to join the military. Excepting internal collapse due to the increased pressures of an expanding military and the worldwide hatred of our nation that our military escapades creates, I see no other hope except for us to simply refuse to go down this path any further."
Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex s
Rex Chickeneater | Armenia | 02/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a powerful and disturbing film, examining how the military-industrial complex (which President Eisenhower warned us about upon departing office in 1961) has twisted American's foreign policy for its own ends. The film-maker clearly has an agenda in terms of criticizing American foreign policy, but the film actually provides a fairly convincing case about the numerous conflicts of interests that exist and its negative effects. Whether you agree or not with all the film's conclusions, it raises issues that ought to be the topic of earnest and honest debate. I had earlier posted this review to the DVD of this important film, but for whatever reasons Amazon shifted it to the Frank Capra film of the same title! "
An Intelligent And Perceptive Look At American Militarism
Chris Luallen | Nashville, Tennessee | 03/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I expected this movie to be an anti-war propaganda piece. But actually it was much better than that. It is a documentary based on a series of interviews with people from a variety of political perspectives, both liberal and conservative. The film does have a distinct point of view which considers American militarism to be a dangerous global threat based on economic self-interest and political power. But at least the "bad guys", such as Richard Perles and William Kristol, are allowed to speak for themselves and present their opinions as to why U.S. military might is a benevolent force. Still the brightest and most insightful comments come from those, such as historian Gywnne Dyer, who are questioning the military's intentions and outcomes. John McCain also comes across as an eloquent voice, someone who is both highly knowledgable of the military and concernced about it's imperialistic ambitions.
I also thought the film would be more specifically about the war in Iraq. But instead it offers a broader historical analysis of America's many post-World War II conflicts, such as the "Cold War" and the Vietnam War. Dwight Eisenhower is depicted as a sort of unlikely hero for peaceniks, having warned of the dangers of the the "military-industrial complex" in his famous farewell speech. The movie then goes on to show how America developed a standing army and began it's massive military build up to combat the Soviet Union while using the fear of Communism to justify numerous military interventions throughout the world. Of course, some attention is also directed towards the current conflict in Iraq and Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield and their cohorts come across as the lying buffons that they are, generating numerous outbursts of scorn and ridicule from the audience. I also liked how the film examined the business of militarism, such as the giant defense contractors like Lockheed-Martin, the people who work in their factories and the politicians, both Republican and Democrat, who make sure that these war industry jobs are kept in their own state or district. The tremendous influence of right wing "think tanks" on the policies of the Bush administration is another interesting topic. This is recommended viewing for all."
Why do we fight?
Erica Anderson | Minneapolis, MN | 03/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ever wonder why does the United States get involved in wars? I know I have wondered that. The documentary film "Why We Fight?" delves into America's past going all the way back to Dwight Eisenhower's days as president, to explore the reasons for going to war. The film questions the United States' reasons for going to war in the past and present. I found this film very compelling to watch. After leaving the theatre, I couldn't help but wonder what would Dwight Eisenhower would think of his own country given the current circumstances? In the film, it shows footage of Dwight giving his last presidential speech before leaving office warning the American public about the growing influence of the military industrial complex in American foreign politics.
A lot of the film explores why the United States took a pre-emptive strike in Iraq almost four years ago. I like how Eugene Jarecki leaves more questions than answers in the film regarding the presence of the American military in Iraq. This film truly made me think after I left the movie theatre.
One of the more moving moments in the film was with retired NYC police sargent Wilton Sezker who lost a son in the world trade towers attacks. Listening to him go into detail about his loss and how he coped with his loss was very moving. I was even more fascinated with his experience in Vietnam. It was also interesting to see a young twenty-something year old man choosing to enlist in the army after his mother's death.
"Why We Fight?" may not have any answers to why we go to war but it certainly leaves the doors wide open for people to question the decision to go to war (in Iraq). I found this film highly informative and somewhat disturbing at the same time. "Why We Fight?" may not be as provocative as a Michael Moore film in terms of language but it certainly leaves an indelible impression on the viewer."
Should be required viewing
Chris A. Steffen | 01/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great all around documentary with people from both the left and the right making remarkable comments about War and the United States.