The United States proudly identifies itself as the major purveyor of peace and democracy across the world. But does this self-promoted image match up to their actual policies and military engagements throughout recent history, and is warfare actually a befitting means to achieving peace? Those are the central dichotomies addressed in the documentary short In Whose Interest?, a searing investigation of several key conflicts during the last half century and the crucial role the United States played in each of them.
Gone are the noble and justifiable efforts waged in conflicts like World War II. As reflected in the film, U.S. involvement in international conflicts since that time has often been in direct opposition to the notion of democracy. Take Guatemala, where their financial and military support led to the ousting of that country's president in 1954, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens, and an end to a democratic revolution in the region. The reason? The actions of the democratically elected president ran counter to the economic interests of the country's largest corporation - United Fruit - and the United States by extension.
The film contends that the same was true in East Timor, a region that gained the attention of the U.S. due to its close proximity to Indonesia during the mid-1970s. When Indonesia's lucrative oil and corporate structures were under threat by the promise of democracy in neighboring East Timor, they called upon the assistance of the United States in strategizing and supporting a militarized intervention. The ensuing conflict resulted in more than 60,000 casualties, and the severe repression of a people.
The film continues to explore this narrative by exploring U.S. involvement in El Salvador, the ongoing Middle East conflicts, and Vietnam, which is perhaps the most profound wound that still festers within the consciousness of the United States after nearly five decades. Conversations with haunted veterans and scholars of history highlight the contrasts between how a war is sold to soldiers and the American people, and the selfish economic reasons that really motivate them.
Urgent, probing and appropriately incensed, In Whose Interest? seeks to look behind the façade of false patriotism, and understand the reality of the United States' legacy through the world.