Interview: Terror Australis
Unions: Graeme Beard's Second Dig
Industrial: The Hell of Troy
Organising: Miners Strike Gold
Economics: The Accepted Wisdom
History: Vicious Old Lady
International: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Review: War Unfogged
The Locker Room
Getting Away With Murder
The Fog of War sees Morris hand the mike to former US secretary of defence Robert S. McNamara for a gripping account of a career spent wobbling around on a tenuous tightrope between uneasy peace and mutually assured destruction.
Clearly chuffed at narrowly avoiding the latter during the Cuban missile crisis, McNamara declares that war is a learning process and every military commander must be able to admit that they have made mistakes and unnecessarily killed people.
But while this is "almost necessary" in order to learn and grow on the job, there is no such room for mistakes where nuclear missiles are concerned, McNamara says.
He considered mistakes more excusable while "part of the facility" that recommended a firebomb raid on Tokyo which burnt to death 100,000 men, women and children, and whilst making countless other collateral damage inducing decisions during his reign.
But now that nuclear annihilation is the daily possibility, McNarama presents his own list of hard-come-by lessons to consider before pressing the little red button, namely:
1. empathise with your enemy
2. rationality will not save us
3. there's something beyond oneself
4. maximise efficiency
5. proportionality should be a guideline in war
6. get the data
7. belief and seeing are both often wrong
8. comprehend all the variables
9. in order to do good you have to engage in evil
10. never say never
11. you can't change human nature
Each of these are supported by real-life examples McNarama lifts from his own career and those of his contemporaries.
In the same understated style employed so successfully in Dr Death, Errol Morris again lets his man say all he wants about that which concerns him most. The rest is left up to the archival footage of news clips, film footage, taped conversations, and the ability of audiences to read between the lines and reach their own conclusions.
Is the man after a golden pardon from God, wanting to justify his actions to the surviving masses, merely ego tripping, or simply wanting to serve the greater good by passing on his hard-earned wisdom - thus potentially saving the world as we know it from death by nuclear mishap?
While avoiding expressing regret over any of his decisions or roles in armed conflicts, and ever-conscious that his words alone can land like bombs on those who also know his game, McNamara's manner suggests shame is no stranger. Much of what he says sounds like a lifetimes' worth of rationalising his actions to himself and others.
McNamara explains he was born on 11 November 1918 at two years old with his first memory - his city celebrating the end of the first world war. Perhaps hinting at a belief in destiny to justify his deeds, McNamara tells how his experiences shaped him throughout his life.
McNamara also lists occasions when, if it weren't for him, many more lives would have been lost. And he details times when, by not following his counsel, devastation was wreaked. His report recommended pulling out of Vietnam in 1971, he says.
But his closing words feel closest to the mark. McNamara says that during his lifetime he often felt damned if he did and damned if he didn't. In retrospect he says he would rather be "damned if I don't".
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