Friday, 13 July 2007

Fog of War

I recently saw the DVD ‘Fog of War’ by Errol Morris (who also directed ‘A Brief History of time’). It’s a very interesting film about lessons learnt by Robert S. McNamara, Defense Secretary under President Kennedy and LBJ. 'If we are to deal effectively with terrorists across the globe, we must develop a sense of understanding to counter their attacks on us and the western world’. A good idea for our current leadership would be to learn from this.

One of the most interesting things from the film is the lack of understanding that was behind Vietnam War. The USA believed the Vietnamese were coming under the influence of China, but when they met up long after the war it was said that they had been fighting for independence for a thousand years and would never have joined the Chinese. The Vietnamese believed that the USA we’re going to enslave them as others had done in their past, and they were fighting a civil war at the time. So the lack of understanding on both sides led to the war. This is a refreshing change, so many films from the USA about the era are far more limited in scope, almost childish as they glory in the death and conditions of the war, never considering the other side. Maybe one day we will see a film from the Vietnamese point of view, but probably not for some time.

McNamara goes on to talk about how easy it is to make mistakes, especially in the fog of war, and so why we must get rid of nuclear weapons as there wouldn't be room for more than one mistake. Another lesson there for us all.

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