Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 28

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 28


This is the grave of Robert McNamara.


This is a man who died without any blood on his hands at all. In fact, it’s hard to think of an American who hurt less people than Robert McNamara.

Robert McNamara is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, on the lands of the traitor Robert E. Lee, Arlington, Virginia.

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  • Keaaukane

    Cool, and perhaps fitting, middle name. My understanding is that McNamara later came to regret, or at least question, his actions in Vietnam. If true, he showed a hell of a lot more introspection than the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal is capable of.

    Anagram fun! The word cabal is based on the first letters of the last names a group of English statesmen. Can anyone come up with a new word using Bush officials names? Gonna be tough, not many vowels available.

    • Vance Maverick

      The word antedates the acronym, for what it’s worth. In any case, too much loathsomeness to be compressed into five letters….

      • Keaaukane

        I learn something new at this blog all the time. I thought it was from the statesmen.

        I agree there is a lot of trash to be packed into the new word, but there is no reason it has to be just five letters. Arbitrarily, let’s say maximum of 12 letters and 5 syllables. Don’t want it to be too hard to say or spell.

        • Keaaukane

          CAP BRR. Cheney, Ashcroft, Powell, Bush Rumsfeld, Rice.

          “The Cap Brr quickly drove the corporation into the ground.”

          Or if you use the first 2 letters of their names, you get thousands of possibilities.

          • Toss John Yoo and David Addington in there and you’re pretty close to being able to spell out CAPYBARA. Might get some hate from lovers of the South American rodent, though.

          • mikeSchilling

            Paul (Wolfowitz)

            I had to cheat, but that’s entirely appropriate.

          • keta

            C Cheney
            R Rumsfeld
            A Ashcroft
            P Paulson

            B Bolten
            A Abraham
            G Gonzalez

            “The CRAP BAG from which cabinet positions were filled during the George W. Bush administration seemed to be a bottomless shit-sack full of feckless fecal flops.”

      • UserGoogol

        My understanding is that acronyms were relatively rare prior to the age of telegraphy, so etymologies which claim old words like that to be acronyms are very often flagrantly untrue. (See also Fornication Under Consent of the King.)

        • elm

          Anagrams and acrostics were quite common in Biblical Hebrew. I would guess they were also common in other ancient written languages as, before the printing press, each additional letter you had to write added to the time and expense of making a book.

          Between Gutenberg and the telegram, I would,guess you’re right, though.

    • Sly

      My understanding is that McNamara later came to regret, or at least question, his actions in Vietnam.

      He refused to answer the “do you regret…” question to Errol Morris in Fog of War (a must-see and incredibly timely documentary), but he did look like a ghost being haunted by a legion of other ghosts. Which he totally deserves.

      • delazeur

        It was interesting to see him talk about the fire bombing of Japan: “we BURNED TO DEATH 100,000 people in a single night!” On the other hand, he definitely tried to shift blame for Vietnam onto JBJ. Whether that is justified at all, I don’t know.

      • Bruce Vail

        I saw Robert McNamara on the street in Washington one day back in the early 1990s. He was a sort of strange ghost back then, known to walk around alone without attendants or any fanfare, usually with his head tilted downward and carrying one or two of those thick rectangular brief cases.

        I think he was head of the World Bank back then…

      • joel hanes

        apposite :



        McNamara felt guilty about his management of the Vietnam imbroglio.

        Specifically, McNamara wrote: “We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation. We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong.”

        Noam Chomsky offered a tough but fair review of the McNamara memoir: “The one interesting aspect of the book is how little he understood about what was going on or understands today. He doesn’t even understand what he was involved in. I assume he’s telling the truth. The book has a kind of ring of honesty about it. What it reads like is an extremely narrow technocrat, a small-time engineer who was given a particular job to do and just tried to do that job efficiently, didn’t understand anything that was going on, including what he himself was doing.”

        Almost a decade later, in the documentary Fog of War McNamara would admit to a many more failures. Most importantly, he expanded on his earlier acknowledgement that, “We do not have the God-given right to shape every nation in our image or as we choose.”

        • Mike G

          A classic technocrat, so in love with his statistical analysis and his positional power that he never bothered to ask any big questions. He was a mediocre and visionless President of Ford Motor Co as well; a guy that should never have risen above corporate CFO.

          Regret is probably more than we’ll ever get from most Republicans, but we pay these guys to make the right decisions the first time, not lament it after they retire.

      • sharculese

        Yeah, it’s clear by the end of Fog of War that McNamara knows exactly how bad everything he’s just said sounds, and is trying his best to mitigate it. Morris gave him just enough rope to hang himself, and he knotted it with expert precision.

        Also, in a grim coincidence, my dad and I watched Fog of War together like a week before McNamara died.

        • Should have celebrated by rewatching it the day he died.

          • sharculese

            We had to send the disc back to Netflix.

            • sapient

              Out of curiosity, what year was your father born?

              • sharculese

                1951. His draft number was 8, and he was extremely lucky to have it end while he was in veterinary school.

                • DrDick

                  Oooh! I was born in 1952 and mine was 3. I flunked my physical.

        • EliHawk

          The HBO LBJ/Vietnam movie Path to War features a pretty good pre-30 Rock/post-movie star preformance by Alec Baldwin as MacNamara. He really captures the arrogant certainty of the technocrat.

  • When you visit these graves, do you ever bring along a sledgehammer or a mason jar filled w/ urine?

    And is this share-a-grave & tombstone thing an indication of patriarchy, economy, or ecological awareness?

    • rea

      Lord Byron knew what to say at these moments:

      Posterity will ne’er survey
      a Nobler grave than this:
      Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
      Stop, traveler, and piss!

      • Warren Terra

        It would be amusing to lay at some of these monsters’ graves a wreath, subtly shaped like a bullseye, claiming to be sponsored by the Castlereigh Memorial Society.

    • DocAmazing

      Boots and Pam have some thoughts:


  • Bootsie

    I thought McNamara was still inexplicably alive, like Oliver North.

  • DrDick

    I hope you found a way to leave an appropriate offering on the grave. He killed or destroyed the lives of far too many of my generation, both here and in SE Asia.

  • Funkhauser

    Come you masters of war….

    Let me ask you one question
    Is your money that good
    Will it buy you forgiveness
    Do you think that it could
    I think you will find
    When your death takes its toll
    All the money you made
    Will never buy back your soul

    And I hope that you die
    And your death’ll come soon
    I will follow your casket
    In the pale afternoon
    And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
    Down to your deathbed
    And I’ll stand o’er your grave
    ’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

  • sapient

    Anyone who hasn’t seen “Fog of War,” the Errol Morris documentary on McNamara, should do so before further discussion. McNamara emerged onto the Cold War scene after being numbed by the shattering atrocities of WWII. I don’t really think it’s fair to impute what we [should] have learned from Vietnam to those who were navigating their way through it.

    • So the best way to un-numb himself was further shattering atrocities?

      • sapient

        You’re entitled to your purity.

        • I am as pure as the driven slush.

          None of these people are capable of outside-the-box thought. See Chomsky’s view above.

          St. Nick on a stick, I was maybe 13 in 1967 when I realized the war (& almost everythying else) was complete bullshit. What was MacNamara’s excuse?

          • Warren Terra

            To be fair, 13 is an age expressly designed for the detection of bullshit, in phenomena possessing it or not.

            • BubbaDave

              +13 to +23 or so…

          • sapient

            McNamara also realized it by 1967, but he wasn’t as influenced by the coolness of the hippy movement as we were. http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/mcnamara-resigns-as-secretary-of-defense

            • DrDick

              McNamara is a monster. Period.

              • LFC

                McNamara became disillusioned with the war while still in office as Sec. of Defense. There is the well-known story where he breaks down at a meeting and says that all the bombing hasn’t accomplished much of anything (except destruction); I believe the words were “hasn’t done a damn thing” (to advance the military objectives, that is). However, he put priority on a misguided notion of loyalty to the admin over his own changing views, thus resigning well after his mind had already changed.

                This does not lessen his responsibility for the earlier Vietnam decisions, of course, nor should it nec. alter one’s overall view of him. As I recall, this particular issue (why he didn’t resign earlier) was not something he was asked about in ‘Fog of War’, but it’s been a v. long time since I saw the movie.

                (p.s. Another key policymaker, McGeorge Bundy, left the admin in mid-1966. LBJ replaced him as nat’l sec. adviser w/ Walt Rostow, the most hawkish of all the senior policymakers.)

          • DrDick

            I was 15 and was drafted in ’71, but did not serve. I have had far too many friends whose lives were destroyed by that bastard.

        • Origami Isopod

          “Purity” is now officially meaningless.

        • DrDick

          You obviously have never spent any time with anyone who was in Vietnam. The man is a moral monster who belongs in prison for crimes against humanity.

    • Joe_JP

      wait … “a man who died without any blood on his hands at all” isn’t supposed to be taken at face value?

    • Malaclypse

      Hard to watch that, then think “first as tragedy then as farce” applies best to McNamara and Rumsfeld.

      • brad

        Indeed. McNamara comes across as genuine in his go with Morris. Wrong, but he wanted to be honest with himself and others.
        Rumsfeld comes across as… ugh. Possessing neither intellectual nor emotional depth. He wants to feel clever but he doesn’t even understand what he’s saying all too often.

        • CP

          Yeah. My opinion of McNamara is very, very low, and I don’t think much of his tortured explanations in “The Fog Of War” or elsewhere. But even then, the guy at least seems to realize that he and his team fucked up big, even if he’s still trying to understand how or why or what they could’ve done differently.

          That’s a low bar, but at least he clears it, and that’s more than I can say for Rumsfeld or Cheney or Wolfowitz or Bolton or any member of the Bush clique. Look at everything from Dubya’s “nope, no weapons over here… maybe over there…” wisecracks a year after the invasion to Rumsfeld recycling his “known unknowns” obfuscation as a twitter punchline the other week. None of them understands how they fucked up, and none of them is remotely interested in understanding it. It’s just defiant, unapologetic “aheh heh! Yeah, it happened. What, like you coulda done better?”

    • Mike G

      What McNamara appears to have learned from WW2 was an arrogant MBA calculus of expending minimal bombing resources to kill a maximum number of Japanese, presaging the idiot-game of body counts and helicopter blade-hours he imposed in Vietnam.

      The banality and evil of war run by accountants.

    • howard

      That our escalation in Vietnam was disastrously wrong-headed was knowable in real time (I did, for example, and I was a teenager for crissake, and so did my parents). That McNamara didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t realize that is not something to excuse.

      • sapient

        You were lucky enough to have parents who had good instincts. In fact, so did I. McNamara himself was questioning escalation. He knew, at a certain level, that the policy was wrong. I think that’s why he commissioned the Pentagon Papers in June of 1967 – to determine and leave a trail for historians how the policy got out of control. He left office not to long after that. I think it’s incredible that he did that.

        Of course, it would have been great if he had saved the day in some way – opposed the war and ended it. Nobody disputes that. But if people had listened to him in 1967, the death toll of Americans would have been half, and lives saved would have been even more dramatic in Vietnam.

        • howard

          look, i don’t want to spend too much time reliving the politics of a half century ago, but i feel the same way about mcnamara that i do about humphrey: it was within each of their power to resign their position due to recognition that the war was a disaster and tell that to the american people.

          they would be remembered today for their courage and integrity, and in humphrey’s case, possibly for beating nixon after all in 1968.

          but they didn’t, so they get no celebration from me now for their private doubts and initial misjudgements.

  • Brett

    Worst Secretary of Defense in the 20th century. He really should never have left Ford for an appointee office.

    Although my favorite (if unfair) critique was from someone who was a big fan of Curtis LeMay and the “New Look” defensive policy under Eisenhower. He blamed McNamara for getting the US into direct military interventions again by building up the Army, and for risking nuclear holocaust by shifting the US nuclear deterrent heavily into ICBMs.

    • cpinva

      this would be the same Gen. Curtis Lemay, whose brilliant strategy to defeat N. Vietnam was to “bomb them back into the stone age.” this, for a country that was only just barely emerging from the stone age. this was the same brilliant air commander who was convinced that carpet bombing Germany & Japan would result in their unconditional surrenders. it didn’t. what it did do was cost thousands of lives, and the destruction of multiple cities, leaving millions homeless and starving.

      anyone who idolizes Gen. Lemay needs to have their head examined.

      • sharculese

        anyone who idolizes Gen. Lemay needs to have their head examined.

        Fun story: I briefly interned for a men’s health advocacy group whose leader had been instrumental in making men’s health a thing people talked about but was now obviously in the declining stages of career, part of which involved the ossification of his already pretty extreme right wing beliefs.

        So one day I’m sitting in the office while he’s talking to the dude whose job it was to call Congressional offices on how it would help to get a feminist on their side for an upcoming initiative (despite his worse tendencies, he really did understand what he was doing, most of the time.)

        He described it as their version of an “only Nixon can go to China” moment, and then the mere act of bringing up Nixon and China somehow lead him to seamlessly pivoted into ranting about how only Curtis LeMay was right about the Chinese.

    • MacK

      Worst – what about Rumsfeld?

      • heckblazer

        He’s the worst of the 21st century.

    • LFC

      for risking nuclear holocaust by shifting the US nuclear deterrent heavily into ICBMs.

      I’m not an expert on the history of US nuclear posture and strategy. That said, I’m not sure the changes in nuclear doctrine and in the mix of the nuclear deterrent during the early Cold War had a huge impact on either ‘the balance of terror’ (the title of a famous 1958 piece in For. Aff. btw) or on the risks of nuclear war. If there were such effects, they were prob at the margins. Political and strategic judgment was prob more important. Eisenhower shd get some credit for his understanding of the risks of nuclear war (see e.g. Campbell Craig’s bk on this). And JFK and his advisers (incl McNamara) shd get some credit for their handling of the Cuban missile crisis and also the ’61 Berlin crisis.

  • Porkman

    I’ve always thought that the effect of the Chinese Civil War is not talked about enough in the context of Vietnam.

    In China, the Truman Administration failed to back the KMT to the level that we would later back the South Koreans or South Vietnamese.

    So for policy makers in the 60’s, they had two previous instances to go on.

    A) What we did in 1946-1949. We sort of helped the Nationalists but didn’t put in troops or give unconditional support and tried to broker a unity government between the CCP and the KMT, which looks laughable in retrospect. This isn’t to say that US aid was necessarily the difference between victory and defeat for the KMT. It was a deeply corrupt regime and was dealing with massive hyperinflation. It’s just that the US did not back them to the level that we could have.

    As a result, China went communist which is arguably the single biggest geopolitical setback the US has suffered in the 20th century.

    B) Korea

    In Korea, the US sent ground troops, was fully committed to the war, and it successfully prevented the annexation of the South by the North. Sure Syngman Rhee was corrupt and illiberal but this time, unlike in China, the US understood that defeating communists came first and liberal reforms can wait. While it’s war time, the US just asks how many troops and munitions you need to fight commies and doesn’t lecture about human rights.

    So you’re LBJ in 1966… which option looks more attractive for Vietnam. A or B?

    Also, remember that this was only 12 years after lots of careers had been ruined for those guys in the State Department who were accused of “losing China”

    LBJ chose B, which was to go full throttle and back Diem regardless of his problems in hopes that the war would be like Korea. After it was won, then we could worry about good governance.

    It was a horrible decision in hindsight, but I can’t see a plausible scenario where the US doesn’t intervene in the way that it did.

    • sapient

      That’s a very insightful comment. Thank you.

      I think that rehashing the vilification that occurred against people who made the horribly wrong decisions in Vietnam (most of whom were good people who were trying to do the right thing in the context of their understanding of the time) is a mistake. Much better to try to understand what propelled them toward the disaster. That’s what McNamara, after he left, tried to do (by commissioning the Pentagon Papers, among other things).

      China was, of course, a huge factor in decisions regarding Vietnam, not just as a cautionary tale, but also as an ongoing worry. It was a giant, more militarily competent, North Korea. Its domestic politics were a horror story. This isn’t to revise the judgment that Vietnam was a colossal mistake, but the people who were making the decisions then didn’t yet have the experience of it to go on.

      • cpinva

        “This isn’t to revise the judgment that Vietnam was a colossal mistake, but the people who were making the decisions then didn’t yet have the experience of it to go on.”

        you’ve left out the hubris they all operated under, because they were “the best and brightest”, having all graduated from the high ivies. no way possible they could ever be wrong.

        • sapient

          Most of them had first-hand experience with war and, yes, some confidence that they knew what they were doing. McNamara and some others were big enough to admit that they were wrong. I admire him.

          • DrDick

            Fuck you and them with a rusty chainsaw.

            • Porkman

              It’s always nice when people elevate the level of discourse.

      • MacK


        One key lesson in China was that backing a hopelessly corrupt and incompetent Koumintang was a waste of time (and Stillwell told them that), so instead they backed the hopelessly corrupt and incompetent Diệm?

        • sapient

          Well, they eventually did okay in Taiwan. Isn’t it some kind of pattern that the corrupt opposition that we back eventually ends up being democratic (and economically successful)? See also South Korea. Actually see what Porkman wrote.

          • No, there’s no pattern. We can see a couple of cases here and there. But then there’s pretty much the entirety of Latin America, among many other places.

          • DrDick

            Do you have any idea what you are talking about here? Your nym is completely wrong.

        • Porkman

          Stilwell was an gloryhound who was far too convinced of his own rightness.

          Yes, the KMT was corrupt and illiberal, but it wasn’t his job to do something about it. William Averell Harriman was ambassador to the USSR between 1943 and 1946 which was an illiberal regime, but he didn’t deny Stalin’s legitimacy or make reordering of the Soviet State a condition for aid

          It’s also impossible to find an example of Stilwell being a better general than the Chinese ones he mostly despised. The walkout of Burma is impressive and personally heroic, but it actually represents an abdication of duty. He was the Chief of Staff for the whole Chinese army and crucial to Sino US cooperation and he refused to fly out on April 29th when he had the chance and instead lead the walkout personally which put him out of contact for 3 weeks.

          His plan for the defense of Burma also made no sense. He suspected, without evidence, that the Japanese were weak. He didn’t know the Chinese forces under his command. He had never fought the Japanese. While most of his commanders lacked his formal training, they had fought the Japanese for four years and knew a thing or two about their own capabilities vs. that of their enemy.

          In 1942, he receives command of Chinese forces in Burma. Both the American government and Chinese government see him as subordinate to Chiang Kai Shek, but there is no time to clear up what “subordinate” actually means in practice before the start of combat so this is a problem.

          Both the British and the Chinese favor a defensive strategy at this point (mid March). But Stilwell will have none of it.

          He wants to recapture Rangoon since it’s the ultimate source of supply to Burma, (Though the Allies in North Burma still have enough supplies of food, ammunition and oil/fuel to last for a 1-3 months, Stilwell is taking the longer view.)

          More unforgivably, he writes in his diary on March 9th, “I have a feeling the Japs are weak.” Not intelligence… a feeling.

          At this point, the Japanese have reinforced the initial invading 2 divisions with another 2 divisions freed up by the fall of Singapore and the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese outnumber the Allies and they have the help of a disaffected Burmese majority who hate the British, but are concentrated in South Burma. They also have access to the far better road and rail network of South Burma.

          Stilwell knowing all of this (besides the troop numbers as mentioned above) and based on nothing but a hunch and his own feelings that the Chinese were too frightened of offensive combat and that the Brits were defeatniks, decides to launch an offensive to retake Rangoon.

          It is by far the most unforgivable. What Stilwell tries to make happen, is for troops from India and Burma, commanded by British officers, to work in concert with Chinese troops, commanded by an American, to launch the most dangerous and intricate kind of campaign, an offensive, over unfamiliar terrain.

          Robert Farley or some of the other military people on this board can explain to me how this is possibly a good idea.

          The whole thing collapses because of coordination problems which are blamed on Chiang Kai Shek, not on the person who advocated for a strategy that reliant on British, Chinese, Australian, Burmese, and Indian troops working in perfect concert while fighting in Burma.

          The net result of Stilwell’s strategy was the loss of 100,000 of China’s best troops. But he saw that loss as a Mulligan and subsequently, he had the gall to lecture the Chinese about how to properly fight Japan.

    • Mike G

      “Who lost China?”
      When did we ever own it?

      The McCarthyites basically gutted the State Department of most of their real expertise on SE Asia in the “lost China” witch hunt, so the only voices the inner sanctum of government were listening to in their smug bubble when Vietnam came along, were arrogant and ignorant rabid anti-commies willfully unknowledgeable about the history and nuances of the region.

      • MikeJake

        So many escape hatches were there during the first few years of our involvement in Vietnam that they just blundered past.

      • CP

        The McCarthyites basically gutted the State Department of most of their real expertise on SE Asia in the “lost China” witch hunt, so the only voices the inner sanctum of government were listening to in their smug bubble when Vietnam came along, were arrogant and ignorant rabid anti-commies willfully unknowledgeable about the history and nuances of the region.

        I was going to bring the McCarthy era and its legacy up.

        I’m not sure the most pressing concern for Democratic administrations over Vietnam was the geopolitical pressure of not wanting another China, so much as the drumbeat domestic pressure from the Republicans ever since McCarthy for having “lost China,” which became worse in the 1960s when the narrative became that they had also “lost Cuba.” People talk about the legacy of Vietnam for the Democrats’ credibility, but before there was Vietnam, there were those two things playing a similar role. I think LBJ and company were under intense pressure to disprove the image of being “soft on communism” that the right had tarred Truman and Kennedy with, and turned Vietnam into a hill to die on partly because they didn’t want the baggage of being seen to have “lost” yet another country to communism.

        (This seems strange nowadays when Republicans cite Truman and sometimes even Kennedy as example of those good old Democrats who had balls and stood up to communism and were nothing like those New Left sissy peacenik socialists who rule the party today, but yeah, back when they were actually president, the right treated them exactly the way it would later treat Jimmy Carter and his successors).

        I’m not saying domestic pressure from the right is the only reason they went into Vietnam, and it certainly doesn’t excuse them for doing it, but I think it was at least as much a factor as genuine geopolitical considerations.

        • sapient

          This sounds right to me. Also, keep in mind that China got nukes in 1964. That couldn’t have helped matters (although the Gulf of Tonkin resolution predated the Chinese nuclear test by a couple of months).

    • PhoenixRising

      This article from 50 years ago–describing the suggestion to formalize the unwinnable central zone of Vietnam into a Buddhist republic, made by the militant Buddhists who presumably would have managed the new nation between the Catholic South VN and the Communist North Vietnam–appeared on my feed this morning.

      As I was working with my HS student on the text of the Easter Rising declaration (for English and history, because home school is fun for parents like that)–which was also a ‘Today in History’ link, we had a 15 minute sidebar on this very question: What would have happened if the idea to treat a warring Vietnam more like Korea after the winter of ’51, in the sense of declaring a draw and formalizing a DMZ, had been taken seriously?

      My 16yo was quick to mourn the lost opportunity. She suggested that the secret bombing, the destruction of Cambodia and most likely therefore the Khmer Rouge were all avoidable outcomes, but for the bad data LBJ was using when he assumed that more participation in the war was going to produce a client state more like South Korea that included more of its hypothetical territory.

      Point being, it’s fun to play ‘what if’ 50 years later on the couch over breakfast, not so fun to play it live using limited data and analogous recent crises as your tools.

      The stakes, for McNamara, were measured in other people’s children–and that always seems to lead to wrong outcomes–and that is a moral failure. The cognitive failures, and failures of decision-making rubrics under real-world conditions, are more educational to reflect on from this distance.

    • DrDick

      Bullshit. Vietnam was pure, unadulterated imperialism.

    • LFC

      The “loss of China” and the (domestic — ie in the US — prob more than intl) political recriminations it occasioned no doubt hovered in the background as a contributing part of the consensus that Vietnam cd not be allowed to go Communist. That said, LBJ was determined to *avoid* doing things that he thought might bring China directly into the Vietnam War, as had happened in Korea. This had a significant effect on the particular escalation options LBJ chose in Vietnam. The indispensable (IMO) book on this is Y.F. Khong, Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965 (Princeton Univ. Press, 1992).

  • MikeJake

    Is it true McNamara was a big inspiration to Sam Hinkie, or is that just a rumor?

  • Bitter Scribe

    My father was a New Deal liberal all his life, but he had a deeply weird respect for McNamara, to the point of refusing to believe that McNamara had anything to do with Vietnam. It was all Eisenhower’s fault. Or something.

  • efgoldman

    Loomis, you didn’t say whether you pissed on the grave.

    • DrDick

      I was hoping for something more “substantial.”

  • Frank Wilhoit

    Doubtless you are being sarcastic, but I think you are right in a way. I see McNamara as the purest of technocrats; I locate the problem in the orders he was given, not the manner in which he carried them out (or yet the fact that he did carry them out instead of refusing them). None of this is an excuse, but I think the fact that Robert McNamara did not originate anything is significant in its own right. We ought to be looking at how American foreign policy was reduced to an allegory for domestic factional struggles.

  • mikedjyates

    I give McNamara his due as a mass murderer in Honor the Vietnamese, Not Those Who Killed Them. http://monthlyreview.org/2015/05/01/honor-the-vietnamese-not-those-who-killed-them/

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