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The Fog of War

PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 9:20 pm
by stomperrob
I watched this documentary, The Fog of War, today on pay-per-view. If you haven't seen it, it's well worth watching. It's basically an interview with Robert McNamara, former U.S. Secretary of Defence under JFK and LBJ. It basically discusses his involvement in and views on the three wars he was involved in.

He talks about WWII and his involvement in the bombing of Japan. He supported Truman's use of the atom bomb and states it did no more damage than the fire bombing they had done previously. The U.S. firebombed 67 Japanese cities causing vast destruction as the cities were primarily of wood contruction and resulted in civilian death rates of around 50 percent. He states that if America had lost the war, he and Gen. Curtis LeMay would probably have been tried as war criminals for the fire bombing. He later states that in war you must be prepared to do evil.

He talks about the Cold War and he states emphatically that it was in fact a "Hot War" that during his time in office came extremely close to total nuclear war on 3 occasions. He talked to Castro some years later in 1992 and Castro told him he had advised Kruschev to launch the missiles if neccesary and that they already all the nuclear waheads on them.

He talks about the Vietnam War and all the mistakes he and others made. He said that had Kennedy lived, the U.S. would have pulled all it's troops out of Vietnam by the end of 1965. He breaks down in tears when he talks of how he walked around Arlington NAtional Cemetary to pick the spot for JFK's grave at Jackie's request and how he later learned that JFK had stood at that very spot 2 weeks earlier and stated it was the most beautiful spot in all of Washington because of the view. He talks of his falling out with LBJ towards the end of his term over the direction of the war and his leaving the cabinet as a result.

It's an extremely interesting film and has some valuable lessons for today's world. He's not afraid to admit his mistakes. He says the meaning of the expression, The Fog of War, is that: "War is so complex it's beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend all the variables. Our judgement, our understanding, are not adequate and we kill people unneccesarily".

It's a good film because he has no political axe to grind, it's neither a tool of the right or the left, only of the truth.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 9:29 pm
by Absolutely Adequate
Ooh, I saw that a few months ago on Delta and I've got to admit that I thought it took a critical eye of Macnamara. A very critical eye.

I loved it, of course, but I can see how some might think it was tilted toward the left.

But then again, I was in first class where they've got those free alcoholic beverages. So maybe my faculties were not entirely intact.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2004 9:39 pm
by stomperrob
Absolutely Adequate wrote:Ooh, I saw that a few months ago on Delta and I've got to admit that I thought it took a critical eye of Macnamara. A very critical eye.

I loved it, of course, but I can see how some might think it was tilted toward the left.

But then again, I was in first class where they've got those free alcoholic beverages. So maybe my faculties were not entirely intact.

Yeh, it's very critical, but he's very critical of himself. I expected that beforehand as I read his autobiography last year and he is very critical of all the mistakes in the Vietnam War and his involvement therein. I'm very right wing and I didn't detect any tilt towards the left.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2004 1:09 am
by cafe_58
I just saw that today. He was way before my time, but I thought the film was interesting. The way Morris structured the film by having eleven lessons was good. For an 85-year old, McNamara was very sharp. Definitely worth watching.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 3:01 pm
by stomperrob
cafe_58 wrote:I just saw that today. He was way before my time, but I thought the film was interesting. The way Morris structured the film by having eleven lessons was good. For an 85-year old, McNamara was very sharp. Definitely worth watching.

Yeh, it's definitely a must-see - I think everyone here should make an effort to rent this one. It has some valuable lessons that apply equally to today's world and today's conflicts.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 3:34 pm
by Cornbread Maxwell
Ill check it out - can I rent it at normal video stores?

The Fog of War

PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 6:08 pm
by stomperrob
I would think it would be avail. at most U.S. video stores, at least the larger ones - it was made in 2003. It is on pay-per-view in Canada this weekend on satelite.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 6:16 pm
by KULCAT
I saw a movie at HBO starring Alec Baldwin as Bob Mcnamara during his years under LBJ. What i got from it was that most people in the government wanted out of Vietnam quite early, like in 66 but they couldnt get out until they got an "honorable" win LBJ was desperate to convince Ho Chi Min he couldnt win the war so he could end it. But Ho Chi Min knew it was gonna be impossible for the US to win the peninsula.
Tough times

PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 6:54 pm
by wrveres
we would have won the whole penninsula if we were allowed to keep the ground we took ... we fought all day to take over a town, and then we would give it back at night... stupid politics ...

PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 7:07 pm
by stomperrob
McNamara said one of the major problems in the Vietnam War was that neither side understood what the motivation of the other side was.
The North Vietnamese saw the U.S. as just another colonial power like France come to conquer and subjugate them. The U.S. saw it as an extension of the Cold War and a chance to stop China when it fact all it was was a civil war. As McNamara realized years later, the Vietnamese hated China and had been at war with them for 2,000 years. The U.S. was afraid of expanding the war for fear of dragging Russia and/or China into the conflict.