Thursday, Dec. 18, 2003

The Fog of War

If America is going to rule the world, its leaders should pay attention to the observations of Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and architect of U.S. Vietnam policy. Probed by expert documentarian Errol Morris, McNamara exposes the myopia in the military and the ethical strategy of powerful men. Bomb Japan to help win World War II? How many will die? Don't ask. (Maybe 500,000.) Pursue the Viet Cong through those verdant jungles, at the cost of 58,214 American lives and how many Vietnamese? Don't tell. (Three million.) McNamara recalls that Curtis LeMay, his boss in the Asian theater, wondered aloud if the winning side could be charged with war crimes, then added, "Maybe we should be." The Fog of War is a demonstration of how ignorant smart men can be.