Monday, July 6, 2009

Robert McNamara, Architect of Vietnam War, Dies at 93

In his 1995 memoir of the war, "In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam," McNamara said he and his senior colleagues were "wrong, terribly wrong" to pursue the war as they did. He acknowledged that he failed to force the military to produce a rigorous justification for its strategy and tactics, misunderstood Asia in general and Vietnam in particular, and kept the war going long after he realized it was futile because he lacked the courage or the ability to turn Johnson around.

He elaborated on Vietnam and the other events that shaped his life in Errol Morris's Academy Award-winning documentary "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara" (2003). He described how as a young man he had analyzed bombing operations under the command of Gen. Curtis LeMay during World War II and in that job played a role in making the firebombing of dozens of Japanese cities "more efficient." "We burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo -- men, women and children," he told Morris. "LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side has lost," he added. "But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?"

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The Fog of War

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