January 19, 2006

“Why We Fight” director says he’s no Michael Moore

By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The director of "Why We Fight," a
documentary examining why America keeps going to war, would
like to emulate the success of "Fahrenheit 9/11" but he says
that's all he wants to have in common with Michael Moore.

Eugene Jarecki's movie, whose title echoes Frank Capra's
World War Two propaganda films, examines the role of the
military industrial complex in U.S. foreign policy.

The film which goes on limited release on Friday may
provide ammunition to opponents of President George W. Bush's
war in Iraq, but Jarecki says his aim was to be unbiased.

While the Bush administration comes in for some criticism,
Jarecki says he is more interested in the trend over half a
century, from Korea, to Vietnam, Bosnia and Iraq.

"The forces that my film looks at don't care who's
president," he said in an interview.

Jarecki interviews politicians, historians, an ex-CIA
operative, members of the U.S. military and Iraqis, offering a
range of views without the gimmicks and humor of Moore's film.

"You can argue that half this country saw 'Fahrenheit 9/11'
and what happens all too often in America is movies play along
party lines," he said, referring to the 2004 anti-Bush film
that is the most successful documentary in box office history.

"Why We Fight" starts from President Dwight Eisenhower's
1961 farewell speech when the former World War Two general
invented the term "military industrial complex" and warned
Americans to be on their guard against its influence.

The film examines links between politicians, think-tanks,
arms manufacturers and defense contractors. It argues that with
the economic livelihood of voters at stake, members of Congress
are inclined to approve greater and greater spending on defense
and the government has an economic motive to wage war.

It also examines the argument for the policy of spreading
democracy around the world, questioning whether the motive is
to open up markets for U.S. companies and secure oil supplies.


Among those who appear in the film are Republican Sen. John
McCain; John Eisenhower, son of the former president; and a
former Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski who worked on the
Pentagon's Iraq desk.

The character who holds the film together emotionally is
retired New York City police officer Wilton Sekzer, whose
31-year-old son Jason died in the World Trade Center attacks.

Sekzer describes in the film how he wanted revenge after
9/11. In 2003, Sekzer e-mailed military commanders to ask them
to write the name of his son on a bomb. The Marines agreed and
the bomb was dropped near Baghdad in April 2003.

"Right after 9/11 when Bush gave us absolutely every
indication that Saddam Hussein was responsible ... if my son
had been called upon, I would have said to him 'Yes, go answer
your country's call,"' said Sekzer, a Vietnam veteran.

"When Bush said, 'I never said that Saddam Hussein had
anything to do with this (9/11),' I almost jumped out of my
chair," he said in an interview, describing the film as "an

The film was screened this week at West Point Military
Academy before its Friday release in New York and Los Angeles,
and Jarecki said he had found soldiers, whatever their
political views, were interested in the questions raised.

"Each time we have a war it is later found out the reasons
that were given to the public turn out not to be those that
really drove us to battle," Jarecki said. "We have lost our way
and the question is how are we going to get back."