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Why We Fight (2005 film)

Why We Fight
Theatrical poster
Directed by Eugene Jarecki
Produced by Susannah Shipman
Written by Eugene Jarecki
Starring Joseph Cirincione
Richard Perle
Chalmers Johnson
John McCain
Music by Robert Miller
Cinematography Etienne Sauret
May Ying Welsh
Edited by Nancy Kennedy
Distributed by

Sony Pictures Classics

Axiom Films (UK and Ireland)
Release dates
  • January 2005 (2005-01) (Sundance Film Festival)
  • January 22, 2006 (2006-01-22) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
Country Canada
United Kingdom
United States
Language English

Why We Fight, directed by Eugene Jarecki, is a 2005 documentary film about the military–industrial complex. The title refers to the World War II-era eponymous propaganda movies commissioned by the U.S. Government to justify their decision to enter the war against the Axis Powers.[1]

Why We Fight was first screened at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival on 17 January 2005, exactly forty-four years after President Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address. Although it won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, it received a limited public cinema release on 22 January 2006, and then was released on DVD on 27 June 2006, by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The documentary also won one of the 2006 Grimme Awards in the competition "Information & Culture"; the prize is one of Germany's most prestigious for television productions[2] and a Peabody Award in 2006.[3]


  • Synopsis 1
  • Producer's list 2
  • Contributors and representatives 3
    • Politicians 3.1
    • Civilians 3.2
    • Military participants 3.3
    • DVD commentators 3.4
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Why We Fight describes the rise and maintenance of the United States military–industrial complex and its 50-year involvement with the wars led by the United States to date, especially its 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The documentary asserts that in every decade since World War II, the American public was misled so that the government (incumbent Administration) could take them to war and fuel the military-industrial economy maintaining American political dominance in the world. Interviewed about this matter are politician John McCain, political scientist and former CIA analyst Chalmers Johnson, politician Richard Perle, neoconservative commentator William Kristol, writer Gore Vidal, and public policy expert Joseph Cirincione.

Why We Fight documents the consequences of said foreign policy with the stories of a Vietnam War veteran whose son was killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks, and who then asked the military to write the name of his dead son on any bomb to be dropped in Iraq; and that of a 23-year-old New Yorker who enlists in the United States Army because he was poor and in debt, his decision impelled by his mother's death; and a military explosives scientist (Anh Duong) who arrived in the U.S. as a refugee child from Vietnam in 1975.

Producer's list

The producer's list included "more than a dozen organizations, from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to the United Kingdom's BBC, Estonia's ETV and numerous European broadcasters" but no U.S. names.[4] The Sundance Institute did, however, provide completion funding.[4] Writer and director Jarecki said "serious examination of Eisenhower and the aftermath of his speech proved 'too radical' for potential American funders for his film" and except for Sundance, he "could not raise a dollar in the U.S."[4]

Contributors and representatives



  • Joseph Cirincione, senior associate and Director of the Non-Proliferation Project, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC.
  • Gwynne Dyer: military historian, writer, and journalist who has worked for the Canadian, British, and American militaries. He published books, articles, information papers, and a radio series, about international affairs.
  • Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Eisenhower: senior fellow at the Eisenhower Institute's director of programs. She is serving a third appointment to the Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • John Eisenhower, son of President Eisenhower, Military Historian: A military historian member of White House staff during his father's administration. He is a retired Brigadier General (USA) and served as U.S. ambassador to Belgium, 1969 and 1971.
  • Chalmers Johnson, Central Intelligence Agency 1967–73, Political Scientist: With a fifty-year career in foreign policy, he is President of the Japan Policy Research Institute. An academic at the University of California, he has written many articles and books.
  • Charles Lewis, Center for Public Integrity: Founder, and ex-executive director, Center for Public Integrity—non-profit, non-partisan "watch-dog" organisation established in 1989—investigating and reporting their research about U.S. public policies
  • Wilton Sekzer, retired police sergeant, New York City Police Department, Vietnam veteran: Vietnam veteran, door gunner from the 13th Combat Aviation Battalion, whose son was killed on 9/11. After the attacks, he says the Bush Administration made him believe Saddam Hussein was responsible. He e-mailed every military branch, asking if his son's name might be written on a bomb to be dropped on Iraq. Later, he is uncertain if he should regret his actions, after hearing President Bush claim he does not know from where people got the idea that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 attacks.
  • William Solomon: twenty-three-year-old soldier. Deployed to Iraq on 10 January 2005, for 18 months, as a helicopter mechanic. It appears Solomon made it to Sergeant in the 1st Battalion 52nd Aviation Regiment, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, according to a website that reports on different activities of soldiers. There is a photo of Solomon[5] and a specialist talking to basketball coaches in Kuwait at Camp Virginia. The coaches are on their way to Iraq to participate in Operation Hardwood 5 which is a program that brings US basketball coaches to the American troops in the Middle East.
  • Frank "Chuck" Spinney, retired military Analyst: Lehigh University-schooled mechanical engineer (class of 1967), worked in the USAF, in Ohio, before working in the Pentagon's Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation in 1977. He became a harsh critic of the Pentagon, later known as the "Conscience of the Pentagon", when he attacked the spiraling spending increase in the report "Defense facts of life", published in 1982, later known as the "Spinney Report", which earned a cover on "Time" magazine.
  • : writer, playwright, screen writer, novelist, and essayist, he has written books on American foreign policy explaining the American empire.  

Military participants

DVD commentators

  • Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell: From 1984 to 1987, Col. Wilkerson was Executive Assistant to Admiral Stewart A. Ring, USN, Director for Strategy and Policy (J5) USCINCPAC. In the 1990s Col. Wilkerson was Director of the USMC War College, Quantico, Virginia. He has written much about military and national security affairs in mainstream and professional journals.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Why We Fight at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ "Grimme-Preis%20&". DE: Grimme Institut. 2006. Archived from the original on 2014-05-31. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  3. ^ 66th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Jensen, Elizabeth (June 4, 2007), "Why We Fight", Television Week 26 (23) .
  5. ^ "Operation Hardwood V Begins in Kuwait" (images). Dvids hub. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  6. ^ Wilkerson, Lawrence (February 3, 2006). "Interview transcript of the PBS program NOW about pre-war intelligence". Public Affairs Television. Archived from the original on 2014-03-12. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 

External links

Preceded by
Sundance Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Documentary
Succeeded by
God Grew Tired of Us
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