I simply had to share this sketch. It’s from a delightful British sketch comedy series called “A Bit of Fry & Laurie.” Stephen Fry is so very funny in this bit. His wordplay never ceases to make me laugh out loud. Without further ado, I present to you A Bit of Fry & Laurie – […]

The Fog of War – Lesson #11: You can't change human nature

McNamara explains the fog of war: What “the fog of war” means is: war is so complex it’s beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend all the variables. Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily. Wilson said: “We won the war to end all wars.” I’m not so […]

The Fog of War – Lesson #10: Never say never

The film displays a clip of McNamara fielding questions from a reporter about the apparent “stalemate” reached in Vietnam at this point in his career as Secretary of Defence.  McNamara quickly contradicts the reporter by alluding to remarks made (then) recently by General Westmoreland which extolled the progress made by the military operations to date.  […]

The Fog of War – Lesson #9: In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil

McNamara ponders: “How much evil must we do in order to do good? We have certain ideals, certain responsibilities. Recognize that at times you will have to engage in evil, but minimize it.” McNamara recounts having read that General Sherman, during the Civil War, rebuffed the Mayor of Atlanta’s plea to spare the city from […]

The Fog of War – Lesson #8: Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning

McNamara, himself, provided the perfect synopsis of this lesson (emphasis added): What makes us omniscient? Have we a record of omniscience? We are the strongest nation in the world today. I do not believe that we should ever apply that economic, political, and military power unilaterally. If we had followed that rule in Vietnam, we […]

The Fog of War – Lesson #7: Belief and seeing are both often wrong

The USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy both claim to have made contact with North Vietnamese water craft and to have drawn torpedo fire from these vessels.  It turns out that the Maddox did, indeed, successfully evade North Vietnamese torpedo fire.  (Shell fragments were recovered from the deck of the Maddox which were proven […]

The Fog of War – Lesson #5: Proportionality should be a guideline in war

McNamara suggests that General LeMay’s defense of his decision to firebomb so many Japanese cities would ask whether it would have been better to not have firebombed these cities and sent American soldiers to the shores of Japan to be slaughtered by the tens of thousands. LeMay firebombed many other Japanese cities. The table below […]

The Fog of War – Lesson #3: There's something beyond one's self

While attending university, McNamara found himself excited to learn philosophy. “I never heard of Plato and Aristotle before I became a freshman at Berkeley … I couldn’t wait to go to another class!” A focus on philosophy, logic and ethics stressed values and a responsibility to society — “something beyond one’s self” — and rooted […]