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The Fog of War

In: Business and Management

Submitted By barsonmc
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Michael Barson
M/W 3:05-4:20
December 2, 2013

The Fog of War

The Fog of War is a documentary based upon the intriguing life of Robert Strange McNamara. The documentary covers several important parts of American history that McNamara was a part of or helped influence at the least. In addition, McNamara talks about the 11 lessons that should be learned from his life. The first lesson Robert talks about is empathizing with your enemy. To further illustrate, a great example would be when Thompson urged President Kennedy to respond with the soft response to Kruschev. Thompson put himself in the shoes of Kruschev and empathized with him saying that by responding with the soft message it would make him look like he saved Cuba from a U.S. attack, in which it did. McNamara’s second lesson said that rationality will not save us. His rationality behind this is how the United States was on the brink of nuclear war. Castro wanted to use the weapons against the U.S. and knew that if he had it would result in the destruction of Cuba itself. The third lesson is that there is something beyond one’s self. McNamara, a self made man, is trying to say that you are only as good as you make yourself and that you can go above and beyond and find that something that is beyond yourself. McNamara attended Berkley and went on to become a assistant professor at Harvard. In addition, he served three years in WWII, seven years as Secretary of Defense and thirteen years as President of the World Bank. Maximizing efficiency was McNamara’s fourth lesson. A great example of this is creation of the B-29 bomber planes that were developed to bomb from higher altitude and bomb much more efficiently. McNamara examined bomb reports and created a way to increase target destruction efficiency to weaken the adversary not to kill thousands of people. In McNamara’s fifth lesson he basically talks about proportionality in war and asks when does enough actually become enough. Gathering Data is his sixth lesson. McNamara’s bright young mind gathered data to increase efficiency wherever he went. Robert tremendously helped Ford motor company and made cars safer by comparing eggs in a egg crate to humans in cars. He wanted to package humans in cars like eggs in a egg crate. Later, he would be asked to be the first president of Ford motor company that was not part of the “ford family,” he quit the job 5 days later. Probably one of the most important of McNamara’s lessons in my opinion is his seventh lesson where he says belief and seeing are both often wrong. We see what we want to believe. June 10, 1965 our draft doubled and the Vietnam War became bigger and bigger. We fought in a war that we should not have been involved in at all. In fact, the Vietnamese were fighting for their independence against the Chinese and Russian, however we were to blind to see that. Because of the war in Vietnam the U.S. casualty rates increased by the week and none of the US allies supported the war in Vietnam. Ultimately, this leads me to McNamara’s eighth lesson. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning. The ninth lesson he talks about in order to do good you have to engage in evil. He means that in order to do good things and get to those goals you have to sacrifice doing evil things. Furthermore, his tenth lesson says never say never. I want to quote something wise that McNamara said that reflects on this tenth lesson, he says “ Never answer the question you’ve been asked. Answer the question you wished you were asked.” In my opinion, I believe that this really says who McNamara was and it really defines how his public image was displayed. Lastly, his last and eleventh lesson says you cannot change human nature. We all make mistakes it is called human error. McNamara went on to define the fog of war in which he says, “War is so complex that it is beyond the human mind to compute all the variables. Judgment and understanding are not adequate and we kill people unnecessarily.” The fog of war takes into account human nature and human error. In my opinion, the fog of war is one of the most interesting documentaries I have had the pleasure of watching. Robert S. McNamara’s eleven lessons should be every American citizen should learn about.…...

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