News / Europe

Rumsfeld Defends War Legacy in Venice Festival Film

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during event to kick off memoir, "Known and Unknown," National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, Feb. 9, 2011.
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 "The Unknown Known," 70th Venice Film Festival, Venice, Sept. 4, 2013.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 "The Unknown Known," 70th Venice Film Festival, Venice, Sept. 4, 2013.
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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid