T Nation

Robert McNamara Dies


Robert McNamara.

The Architect of the Vietnam War, died today at age 93.

There is no question that he was a BRILLIANT man; but simply did not understand what people will sacrifice for self-determination.

It also seems like we didn't learn a lot from his mistakes.




If any of you have Netflix, I highly recommend the McNamara documentary The Fog of War


We shoulda kept the m14...


I think he learned a lot from his mistakes and tried to tell everyone the lessons he learned. Everyone has been too busy to listen. In the end I think he really did understand the extents people would go to.

His lesson from Fog of War that "Rationality will not Save You" and the story he tells of Castro is just drop dead scary.


I guess I should have stated "....during the War..."

There is no question that McNamara fully admitted the mistakes of the War and the things that he had learned. He went on to commit his Life to Nuclear Non-proliferation; non-military aide to poorer countries; and how the mistakes of Vietnam seemed to have not been learned, especially in Iraq.



I didn't mean anything by that. I think McNamara lived with the horrors of his actions and tried to make a kind of peace with it through-out the rest of his life.

He ends up being another example of age and wisdom softening the rational edge that younger men use to justifying their actions.

All of this said he ended up being a true national treasure who will be missed by the international community.


Agree, BigJ.

At a time when people should have been listening to what he had to say (the Post War Years); they were yelling and screaming about all of his evils.



Exactly what I was going to say. That's one thing we learned from his mistakes.

It was either McNamara or General Westmoreland who proposed a pretty funny solution to the Vietnam problem:

First, round up all the Vietnamese loyal to the United States, and put them on a raft in the middle of the South China Sea.

Second, kill all remaining Vietnamese.

Third, pave the entire country over with concrete.

Finally, sink the raft.

Whatever. Rest in peace, Bobby.


Call me hard-hearted.

McNamara's book, In Retrospect and his public pronouncements were rife with self-exculpation.

Remember, even as he prosecuted a war he thought unwinnable after 1965, it was not until 1967 that he had a change of heart, and not until November 1 that he sent a memo to LBJ (alone, no other cabinet members were informed) indicating his doubts and his change in policy. LBJ allowed him a quiet exit, but McNamara did not make a public statement repudiating his own stand. He did not speak against the war, because he feared bringing "aid and comfort to the enemy." (PBS interview, and Robert Dallek Flawed Giant p494ff.) Apparently, he did not give direction even to Clark Clifford.

Is contrition necessary? No, perhaps, but principles are desirable.


On the plus side, he died knowing that Rummy saved him from going in the books as the worst SecDef in history.


I watched the whole thing yesterday, thanks for the reccomend-o! Great film, I'm going to buy it.