Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Fog of War. (2003) Errol Morris

This is a quick post to launch my blogging in September. I don't want to forget about Filmsweep even as life is in crazed (packing and moving) motion.

I watch The Fog of War once every few years. I seem to learn something different every time I see it. The late Robert S. McNamara offers eleven invaluable lessons from his life: from his WWII years as an analyst for the Office of Statistical Control overseeing B-29 bombings all over Japan, to his role in the Ford Motor Company and how observing raw data there forever focused Ford's role as a major competitor in the auto industry, to his job as Secretary of Defense under both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, being heavily involved -- and blamed, perhaps unfairly -- for the quagmire in Vietnam.

Here are the three things I took away from my most recent screening. I forgot about the first two staggering facts, and the third is simply a brand new thought:

1. Japan was already obliterated long before the two atomic bombs hit in 1945. They were fire bombed to the point of 67 major cities no longer existing. McNamara claims he knows of 100,000 citizens -- men, women and children that were killed in one night.

2. McNamara claims that had we lost WWII, he would have been tried as a war criminal. This fits firmly into the notion of one the strongest of his eleven points: In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil. WWII had much evil involved, but only the winners got to create the way to teach the war historically. Hence, many haven't heard about the fire bombings I spoke about in #1.

3. How much has America changed in the past 60 years? This much: McNamara claims he was able to change the Ford Motor Company because out of 1000 executives that were there, less than ten had college degrees. Think it is like that anymore? Think there is even one Fortune 500 Company that can make that claim today? I defy anyone to tell me that there is no caste system in America today. It is an entirely different looking country than the one on the same soil sixty years ago.

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