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Misty memories

The Fog of War blew me away. Unexpected, revelatory, all that good stuff. Mostly just plain compelling. Errol Morris got Robert McNamara to open up about a lot of his life, albeit not as much as one might like about Vietnam, and it’s really just a gripping picture of a man who was under immense pressure and who made mistakes.

I can’t say it answered many questions. MacNamara comes about this close to saying he screwed up Vietnam, but he doesn’t really get deeply into the matter — which is interesting, considering that he flat out says he acted immorally in World War II. Vietnam is closer to him, for some reason. It framed some questions for me: was MacNamara a man with a finely developed ethical sense who acted against that sense out of loyalty to Johnson and Kennedy? Was he a man with a finely developed ethical sense who had an easy time ignoring that ethical sense in order to achieve the desired goals?

He’s not really giving us many clues. He may be lying, or not.

Still, it’s a portrait of regret whether or not it’s a portrait of mendacity. How often do you hear a former Secretary of Defense say he may have been a war criminal?

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