The Fog of War, a documentary by Errol Morris gives 11 lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara. He was a controversial Secretary of Defense, first for JFK, and then later for LBJ. McNamara gave up his presidency at Ford Motor Company to serve as SECDEF for seven years. He quit/was fired prior to the conclusion of the Vietnam War and is generally associated with the tangled knot that ensnared the U.S. in Southeast Asia.The executive summary of McNamara's wisdom is:
- Empathize with your enemies.
- Rationality will not save us.
- There's something beyond one's self.
- Maximize efficiency.
- Proportionality should be a guideline in war.
- Get the data.
- Belief and seeing are both often wrong.
- Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning.
- In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.
- Never say never.
- You can't change human nature.
Mmm. The title, The Fog of War, McNamara explains, is that war is so complex that it is impossible to see and know everything. The questions and conclusions that come from watching The Fog of War are also complex. I encourage you to watch and ponder its lessons. McNamara was one of the country's brightest; he sacrificed much in the service of his country, and greatly influenced world history.
Freedom is costly. What we have today could not be enjoyed without the ultimate sacrifices of so many brave men and women. Today, on Memorial Day, we are grateful.