I Don’t Blame McNamara
I don’t blame Robert McNamara for the US failure in Vietnam, although he certainly played an important role in it. As Secretary of Defense, he was not powerful enough to lose a war single-handedly from the Pentagon. The real culprits were the presidents — Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon — the Congress, and the American public. McNamara was an official under orders, and he carried them out to the best of his ability. He was more like the generals who worked for Hitler; he could have been guilty of war crimes, but not for the overall conduct of the war. That his obituaries are not claiming that he was guilty of war crimes probably speaks well of his character. Today, we have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the country more or less ignores, but in which they have been quicker to perceive war crimes, particularly in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.