The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
The movie “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara”, is an American documentary film about 1960-1970’s political world and international politics, which mostly consists of interviews with Robert McNamara. He is the main character of this movie. In other words, this film illustrates the experiences of McNamara’s long and controversial period as the United States Secretary of Defense, as well as other periods of his personal and public life.
Robert S. McNamara was appointed the U.S Secretary of Defense by the president John F. Kennedy in 1961. He served nearly seven years (1961-1968) for the U.S Secretary of Defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. In his period of office, lots of big crisis and political problems emerged. The most conspicuous ones were the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War.
At those times, the world was divided into two zones. After the World War II, the world became polarized because of two powerful states. We can consider this period as an international cooperation between the states. In this international cooperation, the capitalist Western bloc and the communist Eastern bloc compete with each other intensively. This situation created both heavy tensions and international competition between the Soviet Russia and the United States over many years. In this point, Soviet Union and United States and also their followers were in the cold war (1947-1991).
In October 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis broke out. Cuba, which was backed by the Soviet Union, became an important danger for the United States. U.S lands were threatened by the Cuban forces. At that time, the world was under a dangerous condition. According to the movie, many American political actors wanted to use nuclear weapons in order to destroy the Cuba. However, they did not think the destructive consequences of causing a nuclear war. However, Robert S. McNamara did not think in the same way. He was an experienced politician and also a very good strategist. He knew that this option may destroy both international relations and the international future of the United States. He realized this danger and he confronted an expecting nuclear war. McNamara deliberated that, the nuclear war should be last option and the problems should be solving in diplomatic arenas. According to him, The U.S should make blockade on behalf of the war. He insisted on not to use nuclear bombs because he stated that this attack will also destroy the next generations lives. In the film, he remarked that political violence could spoil the United States’ future political stability and also damage the prosperity of the U.S nation. Finally, with intensive efforts of McNamara, the president of United States accepted not to use nuclear bombs. The world and many innocent people were saved by Robert S. McNamara and people who thought in the same way. Finally, The Soviet took their missile fuses and bombs from the Cuban lands. The danger was disappeared and the crisis resolved by diplomacy rather than battlegrounds.
A couple of years later, another crucial event came in to existence. The Vietnam War (1963-1973) was emerged. In this part of the film, we can clearly see the most crucial events of the Vietnam War. In my opinion, McNamara faithfully analyzes the United States political decisions and their consequences in a neutral manner. According to McNamara, The United States was made lots of mistakes during this war. He criticized that both political and tactical strategies of U.S officers were fruitless. This is because they underestimated the power of nationalism and also they did not clarify the reasons of War.
At the beginning of the Vietnam War, McNamara was in an aggressive way. He wanted to improve the army and its facilities. He made lots of mathematical works for analyzing the important parts of the war. In the course of time, he noticed that if U.S army continues to this war, lots of people will die again and again, but they still would not win the war. He tried to explain this important truth to the president. So, this war did not bring any success as the McNamara had foreseen it. The U.S and its citizens disappointed heavily. When the war finished, lots of people criticized and blamed Robert S. McNamara. Just because of this, he resigned from his job in 1968.
In his political career, Robert McNamara always tried to find alternative ways in order to find best option. Time to time, during the film, he accepted that he made lots of mistakes and he took considerable lessons for those mistakes. He underlined that; no one can change the nature of human. The wars will always continue because human nature will also continue. He also mentions the bad conditions and the devastating consequences of wars. He says that, wars are nothing much more than cruelty and people should find best answers in political arena.
As a historical and political film The Fog of War is a good tool for representing the world’s one of the most problematical and exciting period. The movie reflects the general socio-politic conditions of 1960’s. This valuable movie generally based on the life and memories of a former U.S Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. According to me, this film gives influential inspirations for new generations who engage in politics. This movie also reminds the necessity of political relations between countries. We understand that, misunderstandings can only solve by diplomatic relations. The politicians have heavy responsibilities. They decide both their own and the other nation’s fate. They must behave in a peaceful way if they want a better world.