The Top 5 Documentaries About the Military Industrial Complex

01
of 06

Iraq for Sale (2006)

This documentary had more urgency when the Iraq War was occurring, but even now, as a relic of that war, it's still infuriating.  Focusing directly on the contractors involved in largely directing the war effort - to include Halliburton, CACI, and others - it's a laundry list of corruption, stolen revenue, poor performance, and greed.  A laundry list made all that much worse given that the people who suffer are the men and women fighting the war.  (As an example, there was one contractor that got paid by the number of mail trucks that were sent out.  Consequently, they'd send out empty mail trucks to pick up one bag of mail, trips that would risk the lives of the American soldiers guarding the trucks - trips that American soldiers would sometimes die for.  Imagine trying to explain that to someone's mother, "Your son died protecting an empty mail truck that was sent out just because the contractor could bill the U.S. government for another trip, it didn't matter that there was actually no mail for the truck to pick-up.")

02
of 06

Why We Fight (2005)

This documentary analyses the manufactured evidence for the Iraq war as a pretense to ask a simple question:  Why do we fight?  The film explores the link between the armaments industry, big business, corporations, and foreign policy, suggesting that sometimes the need to go to war is required by big business.  The American people and their wishes don't matter much as they're easily influenced.  (The most cringe-worthy scenes in the film are when the camera goes "man on the street" to ask American people what they think about certain foreign policy questions and to ask, "Why do we fight?"  It's painful to watch!)

03
of 06

War Made Easy (2007)

War Made Easy is a very left-wing film, narrated by Sean Penn.  That doesn't mean those that aren't leftists should dismiss it out of hand though because it asks some very poignant questions, considering the history of U.S. war making.  Given that the Iraq war and Vietnam were both conflicts of dubious necessity where the U.S. manufactured pretense for entering the war, and given the questions related to many of the other areas where the U.S. intervened militarily throughout the 20th century:  Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Chile, Indonesia, Cuba.  Is the military industrial complex a result of foreign policy which dictates war, or is our foreign policy which dictates war a product of our military industrial complex?  

04
of 06

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

Michael Moore is a polarizing figure.  I used to like him, but in recent years hearing some of the tricks that he's pulled when making his documentaries I've grown to like him considerably less.  Nonetheless, his film Fahrenheit 9/11 - one of the big Iraq documentaries to be released  while it's far from perfect, it does do a good job of showing a long history of U.S. military involvement that has more to do with capitalism and  protecting corporations than democracy or human rights.

05
of 06

Panama Deception (1992)

The U.S. invasion of Panama is not a war that's thought about much.  Veterans rarely laud their combat experience in Panama.  There are no war films - that I'm aware of - detailing the invasion of Panama (it's part of a select group of conflicts with no war films).  For the U.S., it's been an almost entirely forgettable conflict.  All the more interesting than is this documentary, which examines this one simple, small example of American military power, considers the official story for the reason given for invasion, and then inverts this reason, with ulterior motives, secondary perspectives, and some much needed critical analysis.  The outcome is that the U.S. reasons for invasion suddenly seem doubtful after viewing this film, and Panama seems but one more example, of the government claiming one reason for war, all the while secretly harboring another.

06
of 06

The Most Dangerous Man in America (2009)

And number six on our list of five, just because...

A slice of history that details the Vietnam war and the Pentagon Papers, once intensely conservative patriot Daniel Ellsberg changes his position on the Vietnam War after reading and disseminating the Pentagon Papers, a draft of documents, which reveal the reasons the U.S. government was fighting for Vietnam were not what they said they were.