The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

An hour with McNamara (1996)

And that [our gasoline consumption] is disgraceful. In the first place, our automotive fuel consumption per capita is roughly twice that of, say, Germany. And this is a problem. It's an environmental problem: we are putting more greenhouse gas emissions in the upper atmosphere that are going to lead to climate change. It's a financial problem: it costs us far more. It's a security problem, this fuel comes out of the Middle East and we are more dependent on a very volatile region. We are not buying anything for it. We are not buying greater comfort, more convenience, or greater mobility...

Now I come back to contemplation. I think it is the responsibility of a leader, an action-oriented individual in our society, whether public sector leader or private sector leader, to contemplate as well as to act and to think about his role in society. And I want to suggest that the role in society of a petroleum executive today, in addition to making profits for his company, ought to be to help society increase efficiency in the use of petroleum. I don't think they think of themselves that way. They should.
Honestly, how great is Robert S. McNamara? I highly recommend this hour-long interview of him on his upbringing, the Depression, business over academia, 'action vs. contemplation', liberalism, Vietnam, cars/gas/climate change.. And this was in 1996.. Forget the end of the Cold War, forget 9/11, the trends that dominate our world today have been in place since at the 1970s if not earlier.

I don't know if Errol Morris saw this interview prior to shooting his The Fog of War. McNamara covers a lot of the same ground, even using phrases identical to those in the documentary, but he also talks about different stuff, often in the specific context of Nineties. Well worth watching.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home