Documentaries and Geopolitics

Before seeing Fog of War, I was not nearly as excited for geopolitics. After reading what geopolitics is about and watching the documentary, I feel differently. I had no idea who Robert McNamara was and what he did for international politics. Some of what he was a part of under Kennedy and Johnson as Secretary of Defense are some of the worst points in United States history: the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, and the Cold War. His eleven lessons are actually good things to live by and apply so well to geopolitics and political geography.

“Empathize with your enemy,” says McNamara. When he talked about this point along with rationality and Khrushchev putting missiles in Cuba and the appearance of Khrushchev being a “tough guy” towards the US, it made me think about how ridiculous it was. Almost starting a nuclear war based on how neither side wanted to appear weak to their own people is not smart. However, we go into these ideas of nationalism and power. Neither side wanted to lose the argument and the power associated with their position. Neither side wanted their country to lose support in the the government. They want nationalism to stay strong so government processes can go unhindered. The process leading to the solution to the Cuban Missile Crisis is rather interesting as it almost touches another of McNamara’s points: there’s something beyond oneself. At the beginning of the crisis, it was seen as another act of aggression, but once McNamara and Kennedy flipped their view around, they saw that Khrushchev was just trying to show his people that he is tough. He wasn’t wanting a nuclear war any more than Kennedy. Too often we find ourselves only looking at things from our perspective and too arrogant or busy to see it from another.

I know that perspective is a hard thing to wrap my head around, as there are multiple ways to view and interpret one particular event. For example, the topic of the business personal property tax  is proving to be a difficult topic to write on for the LTN assignment. Did Governor Pence want to get rid of the tax so that the state can control funding to municipalities or make the state more attractive for businesses? Why not both? Or neither? What can ideas on power, the state, and geopolitics say about similar events and situations? Well, McNamara’s last point in the documentary is about how one cannot change human nature. Multiple perspectives and issues of power and control are among the characteristics of human nature. I suppose that what I am trying to say is geopolitics is going to be a complex and fun end to this class and I am excited to learn more about it. Hopefully it helps me in interpreting my paper topic, too!

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