Run! The paranoids are coming!

Eugene Jarecki’s film The Trials of Henry Kissinger was widely acclaimed and won the 2002 Amnesty International Award.

He spoke to the BBC about his new film Why We Fight.

“Eisenhower believed that no nation could ever achieve perfect security, any more than we [as individuals] can. We all know that we could walk out of the house tomorrow morning and get hit by a car; that’s just part of being alive. Yet nations, particularly the United States, tell their people that it’s possible to destroy evil in the world. Eisenhower viewed this as illusory and dangerous. A nation trying to achieve perfect security will never get there, but along the way it can bankrupt itself on several levels: militarily, economically, politically, and of course spiritually.

The picture I have in my mind is of a house: That’s America.

As America got richer and more powerful, it had all sorts of riches in the house that it increasingly worried about the world envying. As we become more and more of an empire, of course, the barbarians are always at the gate. We become that much more paranoid, like a paranoid tycoon who thinks everyone wants a piece of him. So the richer the house got, the more fearful we got of it being under threat, as ironic as that might seem.

So what do you do? You get a gun.

Run! The paranoids are coming!

Increasingly, you start pawning the articles in the house to get a bigger and bigger gun. After a while, if you take that to its logical extreme, you will pawn the entire house to get the biggest gun, and you forsake all of the things that made the house valuable.

At the end of the day, you’re standing in front of an empty house with a great big gun.