The United States of Amnesia

It is nowhere written that the American empire goes on forever.

–Eugene Jarecki

Is American foreign policy dominated by the idea of military supremacy? Has the military become too important in American life? Jarecki’s shrewd and intelligent polemic would seem to give an affirmative answer to each of these questions.

He may have been the ultimate icon of 1950s conformity and postwar complacency, but Dwight D. Eisenhower was an iconoclast, visionary, and the Cassandra of the New World Order. Upon departing his presidency, Eisenhower issued a stern, cogent warning about the burgeoning “military industrial complex,” foretelling with ominous clarity the state of the world in 2004 with its incestuous entanglement of political, corporate, and Defense Department interests.



“Why We Fight”

99 minutes

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



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.
It won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, however, it received a limited public cinema release on 20 January 2005, and then was released, rated PG-13, on DVD on 27 June 2005, by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Why We Fight describes the rise and maintenance of the United States military-industrial complex and its fifty-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 told a lie, 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.

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    • Edger on January 10, 2010 at 8:18 pm
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    • TMC on January 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    when I got up the courage to tell my Dad that I had enlisted in the Army and that they were sending me to OCS at Ft. Gordon, GA. He said that I should keep my head on my shoulders and my eyes open and not become part of the military industrial complex. That was in March of 1966. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about but I kept it in head. It hit me after my first tour in Viet Nam. I never got a chance to tell Dad, he died in 12/22/66.

    • banger on January 10, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    doesn’t it?

    We are obsessed with violence not only as a solution to problems within and without but simply as an aesthetic. Americans are in love with violence, explosions, punishments, torture and so on.

    Yet, we fear it, we worry over it, we try to ignore it in world affairs. We don’t want to know how many people our troops have killed (defending our freedoms?).

    The MIC survives on fear, anger and violence. I see nothing honorable about today’s military at any end of it. When in doubt the military blows everything up. To catch one person they incinerate a village. To subdue a country they destroy it and pretend to be saving it. It is so obvious yet it goes on and will go on for as long as the current State exists because it could not exist without the military. Rather than Military Industrial Complex we should call it what it really is and that is “The Military”. We are like a second-rate poor country that has had a military coup. In fact we did in 2001.

    • ANKOSS on January 11, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    The British Empire in the 1950s went through the shutdown we are about to experience. Today the British Navy has fewer ships than the French. Almost all of their colonies and foreign bases are gone, and Great Britain is effectively part of the European Union.

    The cruel and stupid people who run America will let go of their empire when forced to by the economic ruin their fatuous policies have unleashed. They will have no choice.

  1. about power and those who believe they possess this power.

    Why do we think we are any different from ancient Rome?

    Nothing lasts forever, and our present interglacial world view has been almost totally hierarchichal (having of course wiped out all indigenous cultures that may have felt contrarily) in its development.

    The United States is just another example in history of an

    experiment on wobbly legs. It’s top heavy. It requires massive amounts of wealth to be directed toward its military. And like all powerful countries in history, those who direct its political course seem to believe that they are the state, while the masses should be happy receiving protection in exchange for their productive, tax yielding labor.

    I’ve been finding it hard to blog lately, because it seems so futile. I don’t have very much to say, except I’ve seen this play before and it doesn’t end very happily.

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