Do these lists tell a tale?
January 6, 2004 6:20 PM   Subscribe

In "How to Kill a Country" there's a list of steps:
(1) Destroy the engine of productivity (2) Bury the truth (3) Crush dissent (4) Legislate the impossible (5) Teach hate (6) Scare off foreigners (7) Invade a neighbor (8) Ignore a deadly enemy (9) Commit genocide (10) Blame the imperialists
In "Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara" the lessons list as:
(1) Empathize with your enemy. (2) Rationality will not save us. (3) There's something beyond one's self. (4) Maximize efficiency. (5) Proportionality should be a guideline in war. (6) Get the data. (7) Belief and seeing are both often wrong. (8) Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning. (9) In order to do good you may have to engage in evil. (10) Never say never. (11) You can't change human nature.

Two sides of the same coin?
posted by john (11 comments total)
Sounds like Mugabe and Hussein both followed the same 10-step program. Good articles, thanks.
posted by dhoyt at 6:57 PM on January 6, 2004

The director ofthe film was interviewed on NPR yesterday and it seems like he got some really interesting stuff out of McNamara.

I'm now planning to see this film.
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:03 PM on January 6, 2004

Here's a link to NPR's Terry Gross interviewing Errol Morris, the director of Fog of War.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:08 PM on January 6, 2004

Morris is, essentially, an idiosyncratic genius. It's no real surprise to me that, after all these years of silence, it would be Morris that got McNamara to talk.
posted by JollyWanker at 7:10 PM on January 6, 2004

From the NYT Link (under the McNamara reviews):

''What makes us omniscient?'' Mr. McNamara wonders. ''We are the strongest nation in the world today, and I do not believe we should ever apply that economic, political or military power unilaterally. If we'd followed that rule in Vietnam, we wouldn't have been there. None of our allies supported us. If we can't persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we'd better re-examine our reasoning.''
posted by weston at 7:12 PM on January 6, 2004

Sounds like a must-see film. I've read/seen bits and pieces of a few McNamara interviews over the years and I've always found him a fascinating personality. He seems to be the opposite of the Let's Tear Down The Historical Legend trend. Most of the time modern history seems to want to highlight the deficiencies of our historical legends (Jefferson owned slaves! Churchill was a drunk! Kennedy cheated on his wife! A lot!) Here's a man who clearly fucked up bad and has been vilified to such a point that to even see him as slightly human is a revelation.
posted by Cyrano at 7:52 PM on January 6, 2004

November 2003 thread about Fog Of War
posted by matteo at 6:58 AM on January 7, 2004

"There's something beyond one's self."

Just as an aside, I notice that this "great realization" keeps cropping up more and more from people in power. It's one of those "Wow, I could have had a V-8!" moments in them that makes you question how developed they really are.

Are they just intellectual people, stunted in their emotional growth? Were they so hell-bent and ambitious they missed out on some truly fundamental axioms of life?

Just a rhetorical question, but keep a look out in the future for it. In retrospect, would you want somebody conducting a war who doesn't realize this in the first place?
And what other great realizations haven't they had yet?
posted by kablam at 7:52 AM on January 7, 2004

saw a slightly different list on billmon a little while ago.
posted by kliuless at 3:41 PM on January 7, 2004

Robert McNamara interview

Fog of War is nominated for an Oscar

and this: "Will Morris thank McNamara when he accepts the Oscar?"

(via Cursor)
posted by jacobsee at 12:48 PM on January 27, 2004

it's sad that McNamara's lessons were learnt way too late...That happens all too often.
posted by amberglow at 4:23 PM on January 27, 2004

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