Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Robert McNamara (1916-2009)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Robert McNamara, one of the supposedly "best" and "brightest" behind the Vietnam War, the defense secretary who determined who was winning and losing by counting body bags, died yesterday at the age of 93.

To a certain extent, he was the Vietnam War, and just as it took America down, it took him down, too. He was long gone by the time the war eventually ended, with American fatalities increasing significantly under Nixon and Kissinger, but he remained "a haunted man," the war "his personal nightmare."

He apparently came to regret what he had done, but the past could never ever be put fully behind him.

There is not much more to say. This was a man who lived, and suffered, and who may or may not have come to terms with his time in office, or achieved, at long last, some sort of inner peace. The Vietnam War wasn't entirely his fault, but, to his death, he bore as much responsibility for it as anyone.


For more, I highly recommend Errol Morris's fantastic documentary, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.

And I suppose you could already read his mea culpa memoirs, which I have not.

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