Just finished watched the latest Errol Morris film, Fog of War. Morris’ films are always compelling, he has a definite knack for discovering worthy subjects. This time the subject was Robert McNamara.
I do hope that at the age of 85, I have some semblance of coherence and memory that Mr. McNamara retains.
“At my age, 85, I’m at an age where I can look back and derive some conclusions about my actions. My rule has been to try to learn, try to understand what happened. Develop the lessons and pass them on.”
Over the course of the film, MacNamara discusses his viewpoint and roles in some of the greatest events in American History; WWI, The Cold War, The Cuban Missile Crisis, The Vietnam War, and the past and future implications of Nuclear Weapons.
The film is organized around eleven lessons.
- Empathize with your enemy
- Rationality will not save us
- There’s something beyond one’s self
- Maximize efficiency
- Proportionality should be a guideline in war
- Get the data
- Belief and Seeing are both often wrong
- Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning
- In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
- Never say never
- You can’t change human nature
It was pretty amazing how he coldly he could discuss the ending of thousands of lives in war and yet tear up when discussing the assassination of President Kennedy. I imagine one has to be able to distance oneself from the realties of human loss through statistics and rationalizations.
“The primary role of the President of the United States is to keep the nation out of war” - J.F. Kennedy