Currently Watching: The Fog of War

TITLE: The Fog of War: 11 Lessons From the Life of Robert S McNamara

DIRECTED BY: Errol Morris
DISTRIBUTED BY: Sony Pictures
YEAR RELEASED: 2003
This is a documentary was an interview conducted by the director with the former Secretary of Defense. It won an Academy Award in 2003 for Best Documentary.
The 11 Lessons spoken about in the title refer to the 11 Lessons he learned from the Vietnam War.
The Special Features section of the DVD contains 10 additional lessons that pertain to politics in general. Here are those 10 lessons:
  1. The human race will never eliminate war, but we can reduce the brutality of war by adhering to the principles of a “just war”, particularly in the area of proportionality.
  2. The indefinite combinations of human fallibility and nuclear weapons will lead to the destruction of all nations.
  3. We (the United States) the most powerful nation in the world – and we are likely to remain so for decades ahead. But we are not omniscient. If we cannot persuade other nations with similar interests and similar values of the merits of the proposed use of that power, we should not proceed unilaterally except in the unlikely requirement to defend directly the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii.
  4. Moral principles are…guides to foreign policy and defense policy, but surely we can agree that we should establish as a major goal of the U.S. foreign policy…the avoidance, in this century of carnage…caused by conflict in the 20th century.
  5. We, the richest nation in the world, have failed in our responsibility to our own poor and to the disadvantaged across the world to help them advance their welfare in the most fundamental terms of nutrition, literacy, health and employment.
  6. Corporate executives must recognize there is no contradiction between a soft heart and a hard head….they have responsibilities to stockholders, but they also have responsibilities to their employees, their customers and to society as a whole.
  7. President Kennedy believed a primary responsibility of a president is to keep the nation out of war, if at all possible.
  8. War is a blunt instrument by which to settle disputes between or within nations, and economic sanctions are rarely effective.
  9. If we are to deal effectively with terrorists across the globe, we must develop a sense of empathy – I don’t mean “sympathy” but rather “understanding” to counter their attacks on us and the Western World.
  10. One of the greatest dangers we face today is the risk that terrorists will obtain weapons of mass destruction as a result of the breakdown of the Non-Proliferation Regime. We in the U.S. are contributing to that breakdown.
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