Of the three men who led an unprepared America into the Iraq quagmire, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had less of a say in the invasion than either Vice President Dick Cheney or President George W. Bush. But of the three, Rumsfeld is the one you would want to sit in the chair across from Errol Morris.
In The Unknown Known, Rumsfeld shows time and again why he’s a perfect subject for another of Morris’s documentary investigations into American military adventurism and hubris. For one, he’s the sharpest verbalist of the three. For another, he’s willing to tangle with other points of view; though not necessarily concede an inch of ground. If the film can’t compare in the end to 2003’s The Fog of War, that’s because Rumsfeld doesn’t appear to have had the come-to-Jesus moment about Iraq that Robert McNamara had about his role in the disaster that was the Vietnam War. Given the placidly combative figure presented here, that moment will probably never come.