Wednesday, September 09, 2009

You Build a Car to Drive It

Eugene Jarecki's 2005 documentary Why We Fight won a Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for its accurate and thorough exploration of the machinery at work behind America's lust for war. It featured footage of Eisenhower's famous farewell speech at the end of his second term warning of the military industrial complex, a union of the military and defense corporations. You build a car to drive it. The film shows how over time Eisenhower's worst fears not only proved true, but have been far exceeded.

The complex has long since deeply embedded itself into the Congress, and Congress has become the third of the four cornerstones of the machine. The fourth, emerging during the 1990s, are the unelected think tanks well paid to create and influence policy, in particular The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), that all but drafted the blueprint for the US invasion of the Middle East.

The film also deepens one's grasp of the sophistication of strategic misinformation and manipulation of public opinion, a strong reaction to wounds suffered by humiliation and defeat in Vietnam. Never again would the war machine allow public opinion to chance. The film notes the creation of the Office of Special Plans that managed the discourse prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Perhaps the most disturbing take away from the film is the pervasiveness, power, breadth, depth, and reach of the corporate interest apparatus. We don't spend trillions of dollars to provide the means to make war. We make war as a means to support spending trillions of dollars, a fair chunk of those dollars finding their way into campaign coffers.

The scheming, conniving, and sophistication of the machine is overwhelming. It is no accident that the B-2 bomber is built with parts coming from every state in the country.


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