Monday, July 6, 2009

Robert McNamara's lessons

The Wikipedia article on Errol Morris' documentary The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003) has capable summaries:

Eleven life lessons from The Fog of War
Eleven lessons from the Vietnam War
Ten additional lessons

The Fog of War is perhaps the most compelling documentary I've seen. And yes, history repeated itself, with Donald Rumsfeld starring as Robert S. McNamara.

Ex-Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara Dies at 93 (New York Times)

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

Hello. I have watched 'Fog of War', and I grew up during Vietnam. I am 55. I loved the documentary, and I am grateful for Mr. McNamara's contribution in this. I guess-and maybe I am really off here-that he felt that he had made huge mistakes in his planning and decisions regarding Vietnam, and that is why he resigned. To compare him to Rumsfeld-I guess I thought that McNamara was apologetic, and saw the wrongs of the buildup, the deaths, etc. I am still glad that I watched 'Fog'; I now know the incredible horrific strategy and amount of death we caused there, and here. And McNamara's role in it, that I had perceived that he had accepted in it. I thought he was remorseful, that he had erred.

Michael Leddy said...

McNamara shows great remorse in the film. In that respect, yes, there's little similarity between him and Rumsfeld. The similarity for me involves two men making the same kinds of mistakes. The lessons in McNamara's 1995 book In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam read like an account of everything that would go wrong with the U.S. invasion of Iraq.