Etzioni and McNamara

February 17th, 2004 8:50 PM

Amitai Etzioni posted comments today on The Fog of War. Some of his comments are interesting and thought provoking. Yet I find others somewhat rash. For example, Etzioni says,

McNamara is given the floor in this film, with very few questions being asked, no follow-up questioning, and only indirect references to counter-arguments.

I find it difficult to believe that very few questions were asked during the “25 hours of interview footage” used to make the film. The finished product certainly doesn’t feature many questions or interruptions by Errol Morris (though there are some), but to think that McNamara talked for twenty five hours without much dialog with Morris seems somewhat absurd.

He goes on,

As far as the rest of the film, you have to be on your toes and know the period quite well to see through this Dr. Strangelove.

I’d like to hear specific criticisms. Personally, I found the film to be not only a wonderful work of film-making (the visuals and music were fantastic), but an intriguing perspective on the events of McNamara’s life. However, I’d be very interested in reading opposing viewpoints as to how the film was misleading. I can accept criticizing McNamara for showing “little remorse,” but I’m more interested in historical issues, since I’m clearly not “on [my] toes” enough to fully understand this viewpoint.

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i’ve heard similar critiques/complaints about the fog of war, mostly from uber-liberal kids who disregard the necessity of armies, holding them as inherently evil. they said that mcnamara acted as if war was the obvious and necessary way to go. and the lack of remorse comment was made quite a bit. i think they wanted to see tears of regret.

Posted by: shuli on February 19th, 2004 2:05 PM

That’s just foolish. I can understand disregarding the necessity of armies and war, but to expect McNamara to do the same when his past is completely tied up in it all might be pushing it.

As far as showing remorse, I was left with quite a different impression by the movie. There were no tears, but I felt as if McNamara was portrayed as having serious doubts about the overall outcome of the wars, but would stand by what he had done.

I don’t know. I feel as if there might be a very rational, very important other side to all of this, but I don’t know quite enough about the specific history to know what it is. And Etzioni’s site, despite being run with the same software as this site, doesn’t allow comments or trackbacks. There’s something strange about a communitarian weblog that doesn’t allow comments. So much for dialog.

Posted by: kasei on February 19th, 2004 2:34 PM

i’d call that plain unamerican! or at least undemocratic.

and i have more respect for those who would ‘stand by’ their past actions and decsisions no matter how poor or possibly incorrect. taking responsibility for their actions is something more people need to do.

Posted by: shuli on February 19th, 2004 10:32 PM