News / Europe

Rumsfeld Defends War Legacy in Venice Festival Film

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during event to kick off memoir,
Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during event to kick off memoir, "Known and Unknown," National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, Feb. 9, 2011.
Reuters
Errol Morris is not at all certain why former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld agreed to let him make a documentary portrait of the man who oversaw the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, but he is convinced of at least one thing.
 
Rumsfeld, he said, has no regrets about the campaigns.
 
Director Errol Morris gestures during photocall for Director Errol Morris gestures during photocall for "The Unknown Known," 70th Venice Film Festival, Venice, Sept. 4, 2013.
x
Director Errol Morris gestures during photocall for
Director Errol Morris gestures during photocall for "The Unknown Known," 70th Venice Film Festival, Venice, Sept. 4, 2013.
"Rumsfeld never came even close to calling these wars a mistake, an error of judgment, let alone saying 'I am sorry,'" Morris told Reuters on Thursday after the screening of his film "The Unknown Known" at the Venice Film Festival.
 
Rumsfeld may have expected to receive something less than a sympathetic hearing from the film maker. Both the Afghan and Iraqi wars stirred controversy over their conception and conduct. Critics have focused often on the figure of Rumsfeld, who argues that he took necessary action in a time of crisis.
 
Morris's film takes its title from a famous Rumsfeld dictum about what is known and what is not known, the uncertainties of intelligence. It is one of an unprecedented two documentaries in competition for the Golden Lion trophy for best picture to be awarded on Saturday night.
 
Asked why Rumsfeld, who had a deeply combative relationship with the press, agreed to make the film, when a lawyer for Rumsfeld had assured Morris he would not, the filmmaker said: "I don't think there are simple answers to those 'why' questions.
 
"Why did he agree to talk to me, why did he agree to make the movie?" Morris offered no answer to his own questions, although he had won an Oscar for his 2003 documentary "The Fog of War" about Vietnam-war era defense secretary Robert McNamara.
 
Rumsfeld never opened up to him the way McNamara did, Morris said, even though McNamara also never apologized, on film, for the Vietnam War, and its nearly 60,000 American war casualties.
 
Under Rumsfeld's tenure as defense secretary in the George W. Bush administration, the United States invaded Afghanistan to punish the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attack mastermind Osama bin Laden. The United States then led a coalition that invaded Iraq.
 
Over 4,000 U.S. service personnel were killed in the Iraq war. Saddam Hussein, a dictator with a record of brutal rule, was overthrown, but invading powers failed to find the weapons of mass destruction they had expected.
 
Morris, who has run into criticism at Venice that he did not seem to pepper Rumsfeld, who is 81, with tough questions, said he did not see it as his role to create a "kind of passion play where I'm the priest and my subject is in confession."
 
He said his portrait of the man who served in three U.S. administrations showed a "different kind of story" than what would have come out by taking a confrontational stance.
 
"To say that there are no difficult questions being asked in this movie is only to say that the movie works on a different principle than what we normally expect," Morris said.
 
"It's not somebody confronting him and shaking him by the shoulders trying to get him, 'Okay now sir, admit all of it, say you were wrong.'
 
"Instead, and it's part of what I do, if I'm going to be an executioner I prefer to have people hung with their own words."

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs