Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Robert S. McNamara, RIP

I read an article from the NY Times today about McNamara's passing. According to the article he died in his sleep around 5:30 A.M this morning. He was 93 years old.

For those that don't know who he was, Robert McNamara was the Secretary of Defense under Presidents John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson.

Here is a short chronology of the career of Mr McNamara:

Born in San Francisco, California in January 1916.
Graduated from the University of California, Berkely in 1937with a BA in Economics and a minor in mathematics and philosophy.
Earns a Masters degree from the Harvard School of Business Administration in 1939.
Begins teaching at the Harvard Business School in 1940.
Enters the service as a captain in 1943.
Leaves active duty in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Begins work at the Ford Motor Company in 1946 as manager of planning and financial analysis.
Becomes president of the Ford Motor Company in 1960.
Accepts President-elect John F Kennedy's invitation to become the Secretary of Defense in 1960.
Resigns as Sec. Def. under President John in February 1968.
Begins serving as head of the World Bank in April 1968.
Dies in his sleep in July 2009.

The Vietnam War is frequently referred to as "McNamara's War." When the war began, it was his and Kennedy's idea that the troops in Vietnam would be "advisers." That they were training the armed forces in South Vietnam but they themselves would not engage in combat.
However, after the Gulf on Tonkin Incident in August 1964, he supported the increase in the number of troops and the scope of their mission in the area.
Even though he approved of and was instrumental in the expansion of the war in Southeast Asia, he constantly butted heads with the military leaders and even thought toward the end that the war could not be won. In interviews he claimed that he only supported the war out of loyalty for the administration and that each time he visited the area he would come back reluctant that our country should have gotten involved.

He once said that had Kennedy lived "...if faced with the loss of Vietnam....he would have withdrawn."

He not only was in constant disagreement with the leaders of the military but also with the President [Johnson] himself, primarily over strategy in Vietnam. He began to recommend reducing troop levels and hand over ground fighting to the South Vietnamese as early as November 1967 but was rejected by Johnson. McNamara announced his resignation as Secretary of Defense in November 29, 1967.

I once began reading a book titled Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam. I never got a chance to read the book all the way through (I will have to reserve a copy at my local library and attempt to read it again) but from what I did get through (and from what I remember) the author of the book (H.R. McMaster) all but comes right out and says that the failure of our nation to achieve victory in Vietnam falls almost exclusively at McNamara's feet.

I'm not sure if I would agree to that but it does seem to me (from other things I have read about him) that he really did not want us over there to begin with.

In any case, the man is deceased now. I offer my condolences to his family and may Robert S McNamara rest in peace.


  1. The lesson from Vietnam... never fight a war you don't plan to win decisively.

    Some people thought we could a play war game and only win by one point... so as not to get the Chi-Coms coming in off the bench to defend a rout.

    But the Chi-coms were already off of the bench coaching N Vietnam and supplying them.

    tit-for-tat turned into cut and run.

    A horrible way to learn a lesson... which most of the country still hasn't learned.

    Obama is in a real war with radical Islam and yet he wants to turn it into a police report and arrest them and send them before a traffic court judge.

    The lesson from Vietnam is that we had better get our "head in the game" before we get our asses kicked.

  2. Well, the point of this post wasn't really to protest the war of Vietnam but okay. LoL!

  3. Yeah, this seemed to be a post about the man and not the war.

  4. Yeah. That was my intent.

  5. So... like Michael Jackson, we are supposed to discuss McNamara without discussing his legacy?

    You said in the post he was the architect of the Vietnam war... a controversial war... no?

    I merely provided some background as to the controversy and wasn't trying to slam McNamara personally... thus the phrase "some people".

    Sorry if I offended ya'.

  6. No sorry about that Red, you didn't offend me. You just kind of came across as one of "those people" to me.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  7. Hey wait a minute, don't sell me short... I may be one of "those people". lol just kiddin' ya man.

  8. LOL! I knew you were one of THOSE people! LOL!

    In all seriousness, I kind of admired the man in some ways. He didn't take any crap from the military generals that were trying to bully him and Kennedy into things like an all out invasion of Cuba and that sort of thing.

    In any case, I certainly think he had more of an impact on our country that another person's recent death did that got WAY more media exposure.