Why We Fight (2005)
In his farewell address to the nation on January 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower warned the country about the "disastrous rise of misplaced power" and the "grave implications" of the military-industrial complex. Today our country has 700 military bases in 60 countries, and in any given year will conduct "operations" of some sort in 170 countries. This documentary purports to show the breadth and depth of American militarism, that, for example, it is by no means limited to one president or administration. Instead, it's a thinly veiled and very effective attack on Bush and the Iraq war, which is important in its own right (not to mention an easy target). But the film could have accomplished so much more if it had fulfilled its promise to cast a broader net, as Andrew Bacevich does in The New American Militarism and Stephen Kinzer does in Overthrow. George Washington and James Madison both issued strident warnings about standing armies. Watching Halliburton's war-profiteering and the interview with the director of the Baghdad morgue in this film filled me with anger and sadness at how little our governments have heeded their words, whether in the Iraq disaster or all the way back to Eisenhower who as a general experienced the real human toll of war.