They are only trying to justify their actions; they are handing excuses, telling the events as they happened. And in the end maybe these characters do find an excuse, the one that they are both human, bound to fail and to be influenced, sharing the same planet and dealing with the same kind of people. The two personages enjoyed having power and realized in the end that having power doesn't necessary make them omniscient.
Both Robert McNamara and Yuri Orlov had the lives of numerous people in their hands. Maybe these characters felt the need to retell all their stories, in order to let all the demons trapped inside their conscious out.
The characters presented in the two movies were able to depict the laws and needs of man and rose above law; they become a sort of demigod. In Yuri's case this was shown during his tramping across west Africa where armed men were unable to kill him and the hyenas confront him (these animals treat him as one of their own, as a matter of speaking the hyenas and Yuri "feed themselves with dead bodies"). Yuri declared: "I felt cursed with invincibility." Yuri was trapped in his own personal hell.
Andrew's Niccol's "Lord of War" ends, and the world goes on revolving. The echoes of Yuri's voice "evil prevails," is chilling. Such are the words of the ex-secretary of defense when he admits that the world came very close to nuclear destruction: "in the end we lucked out..."
It's not our war, and no matter what we do we can't stop it," taking Yuri's words in consideration, the difference between him and the ex-secretary of defense becomes clear. While Yuri is a "simple" man who wants to get rich, secure financially his family and realizing in the process that he is really good in dealing firearms, so he can not simply give up his "job," Robert McNamara is no longer such a simple character. He was nothing but insignificant. Having the status of secretary of defense, in other words being somewhere in the top, belonging to the leadership of a nation, makes that person very important in the eyes of the people inhabiting the country and also to the entire world (especially when being part of one of the most important leaderships in the world). McNamara was part of the ministry of defense, which also meant that his duty was to keep the United States away from conflicts and wars; maintain peace. On the other hand his status gave him the power to go to war. And with or without influence he went to war (World War II, Vietnam), and he admitted during the documentary, that there were moments during his job as secretary of defense, when there were not enough reasons to lead the nation to war, and thus sacrificing innocent lives. So Cage's character is not the cause of any war, he is just supplying other nations' wars. Instead Mr. McNamara had, along history, his major contribution to the Vietnam War, and he was a major representative of the U.S., his decisions regarding military actions were crucial, as a matter of fact it was "his" war.
The images presented in both movies are astounding. As an example, in the documentary "Fog of War" when McNamara is talking about recruiting as he claimed, his pioneering studies on safety, director Morris showed the viewers human skulls wrapped in white linen being dropped several floors through a stairwell to smash upon the floor below. These scenes were shown in slow motion. These images symbolized McNamara's macabre capacity to treat carnage as a matter of statistical calculation. The second film was set in a dark tone, the opening scenes are amazing, and the audience actually witnessed the manufacturing of a bullet to its final destination - the head of a young African man. Then there is the shocking scene when Yuri is asked by a little African girl without an arm if her arm will ever grow back and of course the final scene, the camera rolls over thousands of empty shell casings covered with blood and mood until they disappear and the credits ensue.
The major economical and military forces in the world are U.S., UK, France, Russia and China. These countries are always searching to improve their defense industry, and of course the military sector will become stronger and this will provide power for those countries. And certainly the military industry offers a great deal of money. And those countries supply wars from other small, poor countries; guns reach the hands of so called peace makers, and "often, the most barbaric atrocities occur when both combatants proclaim themselves freedom - fighters" (Nicholas Cage as Yuri Orlov)
Without a business like Yuri's it would be impossible for certain countries to lead a respectable war (Yuri's statement). And also this kind of business and especially bullets are a certain way to win a government's votes.
The most unnerving part of the documentary was McNamara's continued assertion that the men involved in the Cuban Missile Crises were all "rational men" and not villains. It is a rather creepy thought that this kind of "rationality" came very close to nuclear war.
A clear interest in saving military planes and not the people that run them is revealed by the ex-secretary of defense. The United States Army Air Force found out the best way to stop a 20% mechanical failure on American planes bombing Germany, and that was to court martial the pilots if they turned back before reaching the target, which soon led to a 0% mechanical failure on USAAF planes. This is bewildering and a proof that the products provided by the defense industry are precious to the leaders of a nation, more valuable than human lives.
McNamara admitted his major role in firebombing Tokyo in World War II, killing 100.000 Japanese in one night, his leader General Curtis LeMay would have had it no other way. He talks about the likelihood that he and Curtis LeMay would have been deemed war criminals for the fire bombing of Japanese cities, had the Americans lost. He admitted the Americans were wrong in not seeing that the Vietnam War was a civil war, not a phase of some longer cold war strategy by the U.S.S.R. Or China. Owning war weapons doesn't give the right to get involved in other countries' wars, but it does happen. Why? Because in every part of the world there is something to gain: money and power.
Keeping peace in the military establishment means having powerful arms, ready for action, so that the aggressor may not be lured to risk his own destruction (Farewell address to the nation; January 17, 1961). Weapons must be looked at as defense means, and used only for protection in case of assault, but the temptation to test the brand new weapons provided by the industry exists (for example the Cuban Missile Crises), and reasons to go to war will always be found.
The ex-secretary of defense predicted in the documentary what ex-president Eisenhower warned; the indefinite combinations of human liability to be wrong and nuclear weapons will eventually lead to the destruction of nations. Yuri's prediction (Cage's last line) is worth taking in consideration too: "you know who's going to inherit the Earth? Arms dealers. Because everyone else is too busy killing each other..." This predictions are grim but worth meditating on.
Should we see wars as caused by "structural," economic and political conditions, necessary consequences of unpredictable chains of events involving millions of people - or are they essentially the product of the decision of a few men in power, who are therefore able to decide whether they happen or not?" (the main question that concerned Morris in his documentary). To answer this question there is worth considering Eisenhower's Farewell address. From his speech resulted that wars are caused by the decision a few men make, and how much they are influenced by other powers (economical power, political power) like the military industrial complex. Morris answers to this question sending the message that the decisions a few men make can actually make all the difference, but they cannot understand adequately, while terrible events are happening, the consequences of what they do. They do not have enough information or the capacity to analyze it.
McNamara is a man who made a lot of mistakes while serving as secretary of defense, he is responsible for a lot of deaths as is Yuri the gun dealer, who also has a dirty conscious and fully appreciated the seriousness of his situation., but Yuri Orlov is the poster child for "guns don't kill people. People kill people," while the secretary of defense is the person who "kills."
Throughout his documentary Morris Reminded the world wide audience to be careful,…