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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lessons from Secretary of Defense-- Fog of War

Any class that discusses the Vietnam War and the Cuban Missile Crisis would be greatly enhanced by using the film The Fog of War - Eleven Lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara about the life of the late former Secretary of Defense.  The film is based on eleven lessons that McNamara has taken away with him throughout his years both in the public and private sector about war and the responsibility that comes with being a superpower.

Not only can you make use of this film to talk about Vietnam and CMC, you can also use the earlier parts of the film to talk about World War II and the post-war military industrial complex.  There is one part of the film that I like to show where McNamara makes the argument that proportionality should be a guideline for war.  I make use of this section when I discuss the Atomic Bomb and its use on Japan during World War II with my students.  This section of the film talks about the various bombings that took place in Japanese cities throughout the war.  It then takes the city and couples it with a U.S. city of roughly the same size.  When students see big cities that they know, it becomes even more powerful.

If you haven't seen this film, you need to!

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