Archive for July 7th, 2009

TIM WEINER | NYT | July 7, 2009


Robert S. McNamara, the forceful and cerebral defense secretary who helped lead the nation into the maelstrom of Vietnam and spent the rest of his life wrestling with the war’s moral consequences, died Monday at his home in Washington. He was 93.

His wife, Diana, said Mr. McNamara died in his sleep at 5:30 a.m., adding that he had been in failing health for some time.

Mr. McNamara was the most influential defense secretary of the 20th century. Serving Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, he oversaw hundreds of military missions, thousands of nuclear weapons and billions of dollars in military spending and foreign arms sales. He also enlarged the defense secretary’s role, handling foreign diplomacy and the dispatch of troops to enforce civil rights in the South.

“He’s like a jackhammer,” Johnson said. “No human being can take what he takes. He drives too hard. He is too perfect.”

As early as April 1964, Senator Wayne Morse, Democrat of Oregon, called Vietnam “McNamara’s War.” Mr. McNamara did not object. “I am pleased to be identified with it,” he said, “and do whatever I can to win it.”

Half a million American soldiers went to war on his watch. More than 16,000 died; 42,000 more would fall in the seven years to come.

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Anthony: President John F. Kennedy is often accused of starting the Vietnam War. This is untrue. What Kennedy did was to increase the number of American non-combatant military personnel in Vietnam. Hostilities began after President Johnson claimed that two American destroyers were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin, by which he gained Congress’s approval for military action. He omitted to mention that the destroyers in question had been spying on North Vietnam and giving information on the positions of military targets to the South Vietnamese. Johnson later said that the blips which the US ships got on their radar and interpreted as enemy boats could have been whales or flying fish. McNamara, in the TV documentary, Fog of War, later admitted, concerning the alleged attack, “It didn’t happen.”

Readers may be interested to read this article, Exit Strategy, by James K. Galbraith, based on White House recordings, in which he shows that in the fall of 1963, on McNamara’s own recommendation, Kennedy did indeed decide to end American involvement in Vietnam. Tragically, Kennedy was assassinated shortly after, and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, on the advice of the Wise Men, decided to escalate the war.

What baffles me is that it was on McNamara’s own advice that Kennedy made this decision, but that McNamara nevertheless went along with Johnson’s very different, and disastrous, Vietnam strategy.

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Daily Express/UK, July 5,  2009

Story ImageDr David Kelly

He was intending to reveal that he warned Prime Minister Tony Blair there were no weapons of mass destruction anywhere in Iraq weeks before the ­British and American invasion.

He had several discussions with a publisher in Oxford and was seeking advice on how far he could go without breaking the law on secrets.

Following his death, his computers were seized and it is still not known if any rough draft was discovered by investigators and, if so, what happened to the material.

Continued >>

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