Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & The Selling Of American Empire

Jeremy Earp and Sut Jhally's documentary shuns FAHRENHEIT 9/11's audience-friendly mix of provocative reporting and clownish bombast in favor of a more sober approach. But it's just as angry and challenging, arguing persuasively that far from being a consequence of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Bush administration's war in Iraq is...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Jeremy Earp and Sut Jhally's documentary shuns FAHRENHEIT 9/11's audience-friendly mix of provocative reporting and clownish bombast in favor of a more sober approach. But it's just as angry and challenging, arguing persuasively that far from being a consequence of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Bush administration's war in Iraq is actually the product of a post-Cold War neoconservative agenda designed to make America an imperial power. 9/11, the filmmakers contend, was simply an excuse to indulge in cynical fear-mongering which, combined with a program of slick misinformation lapped up by entertainment-hungry news media, prepared Americans to accept an act of preemptive aggression abroad and the erosion of civil liberties at home. While conceding that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator whose regime was morally repugnant, they point out that over the course of several administrations the U.S. government supported Hussein and others like him as long as their policies dovetailed with America's international interests. Earp and Jhally map a road to war in Iraq that began with the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall; two years later, then undersecretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, who reported to George W. Bush's vice president-to-be Dick Cheney, wrote a classified document formulating a post-Cold War defense strategy in which the U.S. would protect its foreign interests — especially Persian Gulf oil — by increasing the size of the military and taking preventive action against potential enemies of "American principles and interests" even in the absence of overt anti-American violence. The document was leaked to the New York Times in 1992 and derided for its radical vision of an imperial America, but by 2000 its fundamental message resurfaced in "Rebuilding America's Defenses," a document produced by the conservative think tank Project for a New American Century, and Cheney and Wolfowitz, along with the like-minded Donald Rumsfeld, held high-level positions in the Bush White House. The crux of the film's argument, buttressed by interviews with historians, political analysts and disillusioned insiders like retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, is that by misleading Americans, 70 percent of whom believe that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was in league with Al Qaeda terrorists even though no such weapons were found or connection established, the Bush administration justified the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a key first step in establishing the American Century. Narrated by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, the film's form is measured, but its message is incendiary.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Jeremy Earp and Sut Jhally's documentary shuns FAHRENHEIT 9/11's audience-friendly mix of provocative reporting and clownish bombast in favor of a more sober approach. But it's just as angry and challenging, arguing persuasively that far from being a conse… (more)

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