For those of you who didn’t live during the Vietnam War era, you might have a better sense of who former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was if I tell you he was the Donald Rumsfeld of the ’60s.
McNamara, one of Washington’s “The Best and the Brightest” has died at age 93.
He gave us Vietnam. Like Rumsfeld, he was reviled by the war’s opponents. In his book, the late David Halberstam said McNamara “did not serve himself or his country well. He was, there is no kinder or gentler word for it, a fool.”
“I don’t object to its being called McNamara’s war,” he said in 1964. “I think it is a very important war, and I am pleased to be identified with it and do whatever I can to win it.”
A memoir he wrote in the ’90s revealed how much his soul was tortured by his war. He revealed that he had misgivings about the war as early as 1967, but continued to publicly support it anyway. That opened up a barely-scabbed-over sore. The U.S. suffered over 93,000 casualities — dead and wounded — from 1967 to the end of the war.
“We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of our country. But we were wrong. We were terribly wrong,” McNamara told The Associated Press 15 years ago.