Robert McNamara Dies

You can't exactly call the monologue that McNamara performs in "The Fog of War" a mea culpa, but I can guarantee you that we'll never see this level of intelligence and human insight from anyone in the Bush administration on the subject of their own participation in the Iraq War, forty years hence.


I wasn't alive during his tenure as Secretary of Defense and don't have the visceral reaction to the mere mention of his name that so many who survived Vietnam do.

But in "The Fog of War", Errol Morris' brilliant 2003 documentary, McNamara gives us a glimpse into the deepest recesses of the human machine, that unseen mechanism that governs nations and men alike: the processes that, when broken, can destroy worlds. I've seen it a dozen times. I think it's the greatest documentary ever made, period. It breaks my heart every time I see it.

McNamara's eleven lessons are:

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 often both 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

A bitter list, but quite possibly the Eleven Commandments of modern morality.

Comments

Great Post

"The Fog of War" is a must see film.

Architect of Death

I suppose I have a different definition of what constitutes intelligence. He directed the needless deaths of so many people whose 'crimes' were nothing more than having different beliefs about politics and economics.

Well educated? Sure. Articulate? OK. But not intelligent in my opinion. A much more flawed human being than many of those whose lives he tossed away or shattered.