August 25, 2006

Why They Fight

A couple of night ago I saw the documentary Why We Fight on CBC. To understand American militarism, you need to understand the reasons for it. You need to understand the "Why." Every other documentary I have watched on the subject, including Michael Moore's "Farenheit 911," has mainly tackled the "How." "Why We Fight" gives far more far-reaching answers to the first question than one expects from a fairly mainstream documentary, which is essentially what it is.

It is built around President Eisenhower's words of warning, as he was leaving office, about the "military-industrial complex" . We all think we have heard his message. This movie proves that we have not been allowed to notice the important second part of Ike's warning:

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

"We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

The movie is an exposition and indictment of the dialogue of alienation that characterizes not only American militarism, but also American politics, and American society itself.


pilgrimchick said...

It seems rather interesting that our foreign policy for a very long time was based on the idea of "isolationism." Perhaps this is an extension of a "next stage" in that process, but in a very different way than perhaps initially expected.

nac said...

Must check out this documentary sounds very interesting.

Immoral Majority said...

I rushed out to see the film when it was first released, and I could not have been more disappointed. It was hardly a documentary, it was just person after person giving their opinion, and there were never any concrete facts to back up their assertions.

As Chomsky said in Hegemony or Survival, the interests of industry and government are not identical. Industry's only goal is short-term profit, and they will pursue that goal even when it means certain failure for the corporations in the long-term. The US government's goal is long-term strategic dominance throughout the world.

Al S. E. said...

What I found fascinating about this movie was its depiction of the multi-faceted alienation that permeates current American society and politics. A few examples:

- Government policy, which properly should be set by the legislative branch, is in fact determined by private think tanks.

- American military forces have lost any kind of defensive role they might have had, and have become purely an instrument of aggression.

- An unbridgeable chasm has cut the political spectrum into two irreconcilable parts.

And so on and so forth. I think alienation was the movie's unifying theme.