Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Fog of War

I just watched the DVD for The Fog of War, about the life of Robert McNamara. The film's site includes a link to a negative review from Eric Alterman in the Nation (as well as a rebuttal), which says it lets McNamara recuse himself too much. While I felt the movie kept pretty neutral, Morris let McNamara avoid the toughest questions.

I guess if there is one thing you are reminded by the controversy around this type of film is that hindsight is NOT 20/20. Not that history wrapped up in pretty packages isn't appealing, even if it is much more boring.

After the movie ended I wondered about the comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. Noam Chomsky does a nice job of stopping that question cold in its tracks in his blog, saying that the consequences of invading Iraq, a locus of economic and strategic power, are unquestionably much larger than that of Viet Nam. In other writings, Chomsky is pretty dismissive of McNamara as a whole, that McNamara was a "narrow technocrat, small-time engineer" who was in far over his head. McNamara says almost as much in the movie when he describes his reluctant reaction to Kennedy's asking him to be Secretary of Defense. Kennedy's response: "There isn't any school for being president, either."
Some days you are reminded more than others that our world is held together by bubblegum and scotch tape. Some days I think this is a good thing, and other days it is pretty darned scary.

Nonetheless, I'd still be curious to hear McNamara's opinion on the current state of affairs. This guy has a lot of perspective from 85 years being in the front row on a lot of this stuff.

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