Eugene Jarecki's previous film The Trials of Henry Kissinger was widely acclaimed and won the 2002 Amnesty International Award. He spoke to us from New York about making Why We Fight and his concerns about America.
BBC Four: What was the spark for such an ambitious film?
Eugene Jarecki: It really followed on from the experience we had making The Trials of Henry Kissinger. That film came out in about 130 US cities, and in every one I met with audiences and talked about the film. I thought I had made a film about US foreign policy but the audiences seemed to be most interested in talking about Henry Kissinger the man. To me, that felt politically impotent because the forces that are driving American foreign policy are so much larger than any one man. With the next film I wanted to go further - I didn't want to stop at an easy villain or a simple scapegoat. I wanted to have a much more holistic approach that really took on the whole system.
BBC Four: Did the film become bigger in scope than you initially imagined?
EJ: I didn't expect it to be this ambitious when we started out. I knew we were making something called Why We Fight, and I knew I was going to try to look deep at the heart of America's predilection for war. But I did not know what an extraordinarily tangled web the American military landscape is. You also underestimate people. I originally thought that I'd just talk to a few people and get their viewpoints, but before long their viewpoints became stories that drive the film. So the film ended up combining these critical viewpoints with an emphasis on story and the human cost of war. When that started to happen I think the film became a more far-reaching enterprise than anyone of us had anticipated. [more] [thanks, Leo]