Intellectually Enlightening Documentary

The Vietnam War is the most controversial war in American history. It is the only war that America “lost.” The price to pay was incomprehensible in terms of human cost. About 55,000 US soldiers died and about 1.5 to 2 million Vietnamese. Me and my family lived in north Vietnam, the traditionally communist part under Ho Chi Minh. I was shocked to not find a single individual who hated Americans. In fact they were the most friendly people we had met towards Americans. is should not have been the case. At my daughters’ school they went on a field trip and saw hundreds of children who are suffering from genetic defects today because of US bombing with napalm and agent orange. In this documentary you will meet Robert McNamara. He was a man considered a genius, and he was put in charge of the war. By his own measure he is a war criminal. Watch this documentary and pluck the wisdom from him and try to learn something that will enrich you..


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1. First study this link (Links to an external site.) which is a summary of the documentary and a highlight of key terms.

2. Watch the full documentaryLinks to an external site.. It is almost 2 hours long. There is much about human nature and also the way that nations behave in a geopolitical sense. In the end humans run countries though.

3. Your discussion submission will answer the following questions:

1) Do one of McNamara’s 11 life lessons appeal to you more than the others? Select one to discuss it in further detail. Why did you pick it? Why does it appeal to you?

2) Do you agree with McNamara’s view that “In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil?” Can you provide an example of this in your own life? Or do you think that humans could find a way to eradicate all evil from our lives, and live in complete harmony?

3) The fog of war is the concept that we experience uncertainty in our own capabilities during a military campaign. Are there other situations in life when one may experience “the fog of…”? Discuss this concept and how it may be applied elsewhere.

4) When Morris asked McNamara: “When you talk about the responsibility for something like the Vietnam War, whose responsibility is it?” McNamara responded: “It’s the president’s responsibility.” Do you agree? Do you think that McNamara felt remorse over the decisions he made and felt more responsible than he let on?


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