The Fog of War

November 26th, 2006 — 10:14am

I just watched Errol Morris’ “The Fog of War” for the first time — (when it came out, I was too busy watching my toddler twins). In the film, Morris interviews Robert McNamara, who was the Secretary of Defense during the Viet Nam war. Morris started filming prior to 9/11, but I was amazed at some of the parallels between the U.S. engagement in Viet Nam and now in Iraq. The Vietnamese were then as little an understood culture as Iraq is for us today. And the first lesson of war, says McNamara, is that you must understand and empathize with the enemy, because the nature of war is such that escalation can and does occur through error, misunderstanding and miscalculation. The Domino Theory of communism, which was erroneous then, is analogous to the war on terror. One country falls, the theory goes, they all do.
McNamara’s career goes back to the WWII, and so the movie follows him through his role during two of the 20th centuries’ most brutal conflicts. He was Secretary of Defense for President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
What struck me as I watched Kennedy’s cabinet debate what to do is that they at least debated what to do. There was an engagement of ideas. This doesn’t seem to be the case today, where we have a President who is not in the least interested in what others think, except those who agree with his personal vision of the world. I can’t imagine a worse or more dangerous way to run a country.

For an excellent interview with Morris read

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