The death of former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara resurfaces some old and painful memories for our nation. The New York Times story captures the amazing contrast in the infamous man.
President Kennedy once called McNamara the smartest man he ever met. That smart man was a big contributor in the deaths of more than 1 countless people — 100,000 Japanese civilians in World War II; more than 50,000 American young men; and countless Vietnamese, both from the North and the South.
He was, however, smart enough to understand late in life the errors of his middle years. McNamara called his own conduct of the Vietnam war “wrong, terribly wrong.”
As for his role in the carpet bombing of Japanese civilians, both he and General Curtis LeMay admitted they would have been tried as war criminals if the U.S. had lost the war.
I guess it all comes back to the terribleness of war. We’ve lost the notion of war only as a means of last resort in maintaining freedom. It is a terrible business. Must we say it over and over and over? Yes!