Fog of War

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Ryan McManus
Vietnam Film
The Fog of War
In the opening scenes of the documentary, The Fog of War, Robert McNamara states, “Any military commander who is honest admits that he has made mistakes, errors of judgment.” Throughout the documentary, I got the sense that McNamara is asking for forgiveness from the American public and is telling them that he wishes things went differently. There are many times throughout the film that McNamara is a sympathetic figure, but they are mainly towards the deaths and tragedies of the American people and soldiers, and less on the tragedies of the Vietnamese. As the Secretary of Defense, serving underneath the rule of the President, McNamara was not and should not have been critical of the role that he played; he was carrying out the orders in which he was given at the most efficient manner he could. The majority of the lessons of war that McNamara speaks of were not applied in Vietnam and, in hindsight, were key mistakes made by the United States in handling the situation in Vietnam. In the end, it was clear that McNamara wanted the viewers to understand the difficulties and hardships faced during a wartime environment and that no war could be fought without massive tragedies.

“I think the human race needs to think more about killing, about conflict. Is that what we want in this 21st Century?” McNamara says this line early on in the documentary, which sets him up for being a sympathetic and remorseful figure of the Vietnam War. His feelings on war seem to be that the bad outweighs the good, and it is near impossible to take a blind eye to the losses. He doesn’t want war to be the determinant of the future of nations; he wants the human race to think more of the repercussions of committing such violent acts before making them. One event he speaks of with sympathy is the Tokyo bombings in WWII, when he admits the droppings were not proportional to the objectives they were trying to achieve. They had...
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