Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Fog of War

This past weekend I watched the documentary film "The Fog of War." Typically I have not done reviews of films, but this one was so good I had to write about it. The documentary is basically an interview with Robert MacNamara, who, among many things, was the Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. He is obviously still a very sharp and brilliant man, so it was fascinating to hear him reflect on his position and the decisions that were made during his turbulent tenure.

I found this film interesting on many levels. It was interesting on a historical level, as I learned many things from a first-hand source. For example, I had no idea the severity of the Cuban Missile Crisis and how close we were to nuclear war. The questions about human nature raised by MacNamara were also interesting. He wrestled with the fact that rational human beings could make atrocious and inhumane decisions in the fog of war.

I definitely recommend checking out this film if you have never viewed it. The film was organized around 11 lessons that MacNamara learned during his life, and I thought they were interesting so I am putting them here.

  1. Empathize with your enemy.
  2. Rationality will not save us.
  3. There's something beyond one's self.
  4. Maximize efficiency.
  5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war.
  6. Get the data.
  7. Belief and seeing are both often wrong.
  8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.
  9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.
  10. Never say never.
  11. You can't change human nature.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the down low on this movie. i am a serious documentary buff, and if you haven't watched "Why We Fight" yet, i highly recommend it. i love your sight.