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Why They Fight: Dissecting Martial America PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Tuesday, 20 June 2006 16:30
Why They Fight: Dissecting Martial America

PEJ News -
C. L. Cook - I went to Eugene Jarecki's documentary, 'Why We Fight,' a film chronicling the history, and all too painful present manifestation, of America's post-WWII transformation from capitalist republic to capitalist empire. From Hiroshima to Haditha, and through the rise of fledgling, backwater congressman, Dick Cheney and his now-accomplished political wife, Mrs. Dick (Lynn) Cheney, 'Why We Fight' charts the tightening death spiral of the nation now billing itself as "the world's only superpower."


Why They Fight:
Dissecting Martial America

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
June 20, 2006

The film paints a frightening picture of current America, where it's course is likely heading, and the actors leading it to a surmised dystopic destination. Jarecki's film wasn't so frightening to me; there's not a lot of new information, but seeing again the machinations emanating from the Bush administration, and duly magnified by a media in complete concurrence following the 9/11 attacks was an uncomfortable jolt. It would probably prove a shock too to the too many in America who follow their leader there in, as Gore Vidal refers it, "The United States of Amnesia," were they afforded the opportunity to view it. But, millions of Americans likely won't get that chance.

'Why We Fight' is a small effort; it's smallness defined in the number of screens it's likely to be played across. Though the house was filled at the University of Victoria's (Canada) small cinema, the severely concentrated motion picture distribution industry in North America, and beyond, will not be eager to promote this damning indictment of not only the corrosive nature of America's political culture, but also the indivisible corporate complicity in making policy ruinous to so many in America, and around the world. What's really scary about this film lies in the responses of everyday citizens to the titular question asked them:

"Why Do We Fight?"

One appearing is a veteran of America's war against Vietnam. The man, a former 'door gunner' on a helicopter crew told of his experience shooting the "little running dots" as they fled the villages and hamlets terrorized with such famous efficiency in the 1960's. This man who was entrusted with a weapon and official primatur to kill not just once, but again as a New York City policeman, had yet to ken the lay of the land; this lifelong public servant could hardly, at this late date, believe the President would "lie" to the people. It's only one of the film's psychic screechings within this surrealist rear-ender; a single near slo-mo moment where one's made to wonder if this is a waking experience.

Is it possible there exists yet a vast "silent majority" supporting all this? 

After all that has been said, seen and done, 'Why We Fight' portrays a dangerously somnambulist America, its citizens content to gawk at airshows, while they stuff their gobs with fast food. Meanwhile, armies of technocrats, contractors, and spin-off industry partisans, battling to maintain the American Way, reveal the grim reality of the nation's transmogrified economic engine.

War Makes this Train Run

Trains need oil. And, corporations need money. And, as pointedly reiterated in the film: War has become so profitable, it's irrestible. Irrestible to both the vampires profiting its manufacture, and too to the nice ladies featured toiling at the bomb plants. Most touching is the portrait of the one that would rather "be making toys in Santa's workshop" than assembling ground penetrating munitions, aka "Bunker Busters."

War is big business; and, it's a business spread far and wide. Most congressional districts, (ALL, by the film's account) contain specialized assembly plants, busy creating components for the Pentagon. The spreading thin of contracts across the nation is no accident, but rather a tactic to neutralize House oppostion to ever grander military budgets; no representative wants to sacrifice jobs in their voting district. 

It's a message amazingly foreign to a depressing array of the "streeter," interviewees. They're juxtaposed with images of the bodies, piled up in a rudimentary, unrefridgerated morgue in Iraq, it's sallow-faced keeper explaining the majority of those slain by America's "smart bombs" are actually the everyday people. Intoning a list, the grim mortician reads the death toll, as recorded in his notebook: "housewife; student; soldier; child; child; housewife.

Arms fair attendees are again asked: "Why Do We Fight?"

Their answers fall short of the mark.

Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and host of Gorilla Radio,
broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 June 2006 16:30

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