Monday, February 28, 2005

Requiem Mass for The Naked Civil Servant...

Watched The Fog of War last night.

Interesting stuff. Ironically, the most interesting parts did not deal with Vietnam - the Second World War sections were far and away the most intriguing.

I'm not sure abour McNamara. First off, I think Jeffrey Record's verdict that McNamara was America's most disastrous public servant of the 20th century may well be correct (and as somebody who believes strongly that seapower should form the foundation of British strategy [and has a navalist's predictable prejudices against the RAF] I have "beef" against McNamara for tangentially causing the downfall of the Royal Navy's carrier [as opposed to "through-deck cruiser] fleet). CAN a man come back from that?

I didn't know beforehand and I'm not sure I know now. Part of the reason why I don't know is that I am still uncertain whether McNamara is a genuine penitent, or merely undertaking a circuitous route to self justification. Probably a bit of both. And I'm still not sure he really "gets it". Ah, well.

Incidentally, of McNamara's eleven lessons - which range from the very, very important to the quite banal - it seems to me that the most important, especially now, is the first: Empathize with your enemy.

For some reason, as the documentary drew to a close, I had the image in my mind of F. Murray Abraham's Antonio Salieri being wheeled through the madhouse in his rickety bathchair, touching heads and declaring, "Mediocrities of the world, I absolve you. I absolve you!" I dunno why.

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Re:"First off, I think Jeffrey Record's verdict that McNamara was America's most disastrous public servant of the 20th century may well be correct"

Obviously Jeffrey Record made that observation prior to 2002... I think Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Doug Feith may bypass McNamara now.

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