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?
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?