The Fog of War - Eleven lessons by Robert Macnamara
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003), directed by Errol Morris, is an American documentary film about the life and times of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. The original score is by Philip Glass.
The film is a composite interview of McNamara, detailing his life between 1961 and 1968, and the difficult career decisions he took in that time. The Fog of War title denotes battlefield uncertainty during the fighting. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature.
With archival footage, White House Cabinet conversation recordings, and an interview of the eighty-five-year-old Robert McNamara, The Fog of War depicts his life, from working as a WWII Whiz Kid military officer, to being the Ford Motor Company's president, to managing the American Vietnam War, as defense secretary for presidents Kennedy and Johnson — emphasizing the war's brutality under their regimes, and how he was hired as secretary of defense, despite limited military experience.
In a 2004 appearance at U.C. Berkeley, Errol Morris said his inspiration for the documentary derived from McNamara's book (with James G. Blight), Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century (2001). Morris interviewed McNamara for some twenty hours; the two-hour documentary comprises eleven lessons from In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam (1996). He posits, discourses upon, and propounds the lessons in the interview that is The Fog of War. Moreover, at the U.C. Berkeley event, McNamara disagreed with Morris's interpretations in The Fog of War, yet, on completion, McNamara complemented the original, eleven lessons with an additional, ten lessons; they are in The Fog of War DVD.
When asked to apply the eleven lessons from In Retrospect to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, McNamara refused, arguing that ex-secretaries of defense must not comment upon the incumbent defense secretary's policies. He suggested other people could apply the eleven lessons to the war in Iraq, but that he would not, noting that the lessons are generally about war, not a specific war.
Ten additional lessons from R.S. McNamara