John Frankenheimer releases new film, 'Path to Wat', which mirrors Iraq
Veteran film-maker John Frankenheimer recently released his take on the mauling of Iraq; not officially, but you cant help reading between the frames. The Path to War traces the years of Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ)s presidency, as it plunged downhill in the sixties from an early promise to forge the Great Society at home into an overseas quagmire where two million Vietnamese and more than 50,000 youthful US citizens were slaughtered.
Ironically, LBJ (how many kids have you killed today?) is portrayed in Frankenheimers biopic by an English actor, the marvellous Michael Gambon. (After all, the English have long been drafted in by Hollywood to play the villain).
However, a good half of this engrossing film focuses on the dilemmas of LBJs Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, played by an austere Alec Baldwin. McNamara started off his office (like the appalling Donald Rumsfeld today) fervently supporting a short, sharp, military action against the evil empire in the east. He ended it, profoundly disquieted by his governments homicidal bombing strategy, saved from political oblivion only by being shoved sideways by his master, to head the World Bank in 1968.
McNamara finally repudiated the US war on the Vietnamese while trying to re-shape the World Bank into more than a fiefdom of his home country. Though not unsullied, something of his reputation does survive today.
Clare Short may not be so lucky.