It’s been a while. Well, he won’t grab as many headlines as Farrah, MJ, or Ed McMahon (hopefully more than some infomercial schmo?), but he left a larger boot print on the world than all three of those entertainers combined, for good [see: World Bank and post-Secretary efforts] and bad [see: the 60s].
Yup- Robert S. McNamara died today reportedly peacefully in his home. He was 93 years old. McNamara became a symbol of vitriol and disgust for many a anti-war-scenesters, isolationists, and pacifists alike for his role in the Vietnam War (specifically, for getting us into it). The truth is, he was a genius who made mistakes; he’s human. And with time, he came to regret many of these mistakes and spoke out candidly to prevent the same kinds of large scale, Earth shaping, rash decisions by men in high power, of happening again. In 1983 he spearheaded an effort to disarm the United States and the world at large of nuclear weapons just as Reagan created a political, economical, and social environment of upheaval in a very sneaky way. In 1981 he headed World Bank, where he targeted hunger and poverty for the company’s first time. They now have a scholarship program under his name. In 2003 he spoke out against the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
But McNamara is almost directly responsible for a handful of misjudgements and mistakes which have cost billions of dollars and millions of lives. The 2003 Oscar-winning documentary The Fog of War does a remarkable job microscoping the man’s life. With an extensive interview w/ the man himself, archived footage and phone calls, and statistical information, the movie explains almost all his mistakes with clarity, and more importantly, with impartiality. I suggest it strongly.
What makes us omniscient? Have we a record of omniscience? We are the strongest nation in the world today. I do not believe that we should ever apply that economic, political, and military power unilaterally. If we had followed that rule in Vietnam, we wouldn’t have been there. None of our allies supported us. Not Japan, not Germany, not Britain or France. If we can’t persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we’d better reexamine our reasoning.
I want to say, and this is very important: at the end we lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war. We came that close to nuclear war at the end. Rational individuals: Kennedy was rational; Khrushchev was rational; Castro was rational. Rational individuals came that close to total destruction of their societies. And that danger exists today.