Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Fog of War (2003)

Former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara is the sole focus of documentarian Errol Morris' The Fog of War, a film that not only analyzes McNamara's controversial decisions during the first half of the Vietnam War, but also his childhood upbringing, his education at Berkley and Harvard, his involvement in World War II, and his later years as president of the World Bank. Culling footage from almost 20 hours of interviews with the Secretary, Morris details key moments from McNamara's career, including the 1945 bombing of Tokyo, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and President Kennedy's suggestions to the Secretary that the U.S. remove itself from Vietnam. Throughout the film, the 85-year-old McNamara expounds his philosophies on international conflict, and shows regret and pride in equal measure for, respectively, his mistakes and accomplishments. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 107 mins
The Fog of War (2003)

Lesson #1:
Empathize with your enemy.

I think that does not make sense, you of course should empathize with victims but not with those that are the scorpions. McNamara says that all parties were rational so Kennedy empathized with Khrushchev. According to McNamara Castro was the Scorpion and was willing to use nuclear weapons.

Lesson #2:
Rationality will not save us.

Lesson #3:
There's something beyond one's self.

Why are we here? Why are we here?

Lesson #4:
Maximize Efficiency.

Lesson #5:
Proportionality should be a guideline in war.

Lesson #6:
Get the data.

Lesson #7:
Belief and seeing are both often wrong.

Interesting about his meeting with Former Foreign Minister. From the film it seems to imply that McNamara did not know that Viet Nam was fighting against the Chinese for a 1000 years. But again as I remember it was fighting against an ideology and thus it mattered little what various allies are in international relations. Just as we are in a war against Islamic Jihad-so it really matters little when AQ and Iran do not get along. But just like communism we can choose which side to be on.

Lesson #8:
Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.

Lesson #9:
In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.

Lesson #10:
Never say never.

Lesson #11:
You can't change human nature.

And then for Robert S. McNamara's Ten Lessons:
1. The human race will not eliminate war in this century, but we can reduce the brutality of war-the level of killing-by adhering to the principles of a "Just War", in particular to the principle of "proportionality".

2. The indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will lead to the destruction of nations.

3. We are the most powerful nation in the world-economically, politically and militarily- and we are likely to remain so for decades ahead. But we are not omniscient.
If we can not persuade other nations with similar interests and similar values of the merits of our proposed use of that power, we should not proceed unilaterally except in the unlikely requirement to defend the continental US, Alaska and Hawaii.
For this I have to interrupt. Because is he saying that even our territories that have US citizens we would not defend (Puerto Rico, Guam...)? Or would we not if our closest neighbors were invaded (Mexico, Canada)? Or even Europe?
4. Moral principles are often ambiguous guides to foreign policy and defense policy, but surely we can agree that we should establish as a major goal of US foreign policy and, indeed, of foreign policies across the globe: the avoidance in this century of the carnage-160 million dead-caused by conflict in the 20th century.

5. We, the richest nation in the world, have failed in our responsibility to our own poor and to the disadvantaged across the world to help them advance their welfare in the most fundamental terms of nutrition, literacy, health and employment.

6. Corporate executives must recognize there is no contradiction between a soft heart and a hard head. Of course, they have responsibilities to stockholders, but they also have responsibilities to their employees, their customers and to society as a whole.

7. President Kennedy believed a primary responsibility of a president-indeed "the" primary responsibility of a president-is to keep the nation out of war, if at all possible.

8. War is a blunt instrument by which to settle disputes between or within nations, and economic sanctions are rarely effective. Therefore, we should build a system of jurisprudence based on teh International Court-that the US has refused to support-which would hold individuals responsible for crimes against humanity.
Sure as you are about to die. I am sure there are plenty that would love to take McNamara into court.
9. If we are to deal effectively with terrorists across the globe, we must develop a sense of empathy-I don't mean "sympathy" but rather "understanding"-to counter their attacks on us and the Western World.

10. One of the greatest dangers we face today is the risk that terrorists will obtain access to weapons of mass destruction as a result of the breakdown of the Non-Proliferation Regime. We in the US are contributing to that breakdown.

High rating for giving this a real close and personal autobiography of the man. It was almost in his words with very little interruptions from others.

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