Published in The Orlando Sentinel on August 22, 1999.
If I ever make up a list of the 10 Most Despised Public Officials in the History of the United States, I already know who will occupy the No. 1 slot: Robert S. McNamara, hands down.
McNamara was secretary of defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administration and, more than any other one person, is responsible for the disastrous Southeast Asia policy. He was and is an astounding mixture of arrogance and ignorance. He also bureaucratized the Defense Department, probably beyond hope of redemption. He invented the little bean counters who didn't know one end of a gun from another yet arrogantly presumed to micromanage military affairs, even down to the tactical level.
It's true that we lost the war in Vietnam. It's also true that we could have won it -- and fairly easily -- but the armed forces were not allowed to do so. McNamara was one of the chief architects of that murderously stupid policy.
There are plenty of stories, true stories, that show McNamara's failing, but one just published in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings sums up the man perfectly.
Written by retired Cmdr. Glenn Tierney, it is about an episode in which the commander in chief of the Pacific, Adm. Harry Felt, had to go straight to the president to -- get this -- authorize the rescue of a downed American pilot. McNamara had decided that the pilot was not to be rescued by any American forces, and there were no other forces available. Too bad for the pilot, as far as McNamara was concerned.
But there's more. This pilot was shot down on a photo-reconnaissance mission over Laos authorized by McNamara, and -- get this -- orders were that the planes were to be over the target area exactly at 1 p.m. exactly every other day.
Now that's murderous stupidity. Even a country boy with enemies knows the way to avoid an ambush is never to go to the same place by the same route at the same time even twice. In fact, all through that sad war, orders came flying out of McNamara's den of incompetence specifying exactly which routes war planes must fly, exactly what ordnance they were to carry and exactly what targets they were to hit and no others.
Communist gunners and missilemen didn't have to be good. Thanks to McNamara, they knew exactly where their targets were going to be.
Well, when this pilot went down, Tierney learned about the order not to use any American rescue assets and was gutsy enough to call the commander in chief, Pacific, directly at his home. Felt was just the kind of great naval officer who would say in the middle of the night, "Do you need me? I'll be right there."
Felt tracked down McNamara at about 1 a.m. Washington time and asked him directly if the no-rescue rule was his decision. McNamara said it was in consultation with the secretary of state. Then, in quiet, clipped and firm tones, Felt said:
"Mister Secretary, that is not a decision that can be made by the secretary of state or the secretary of defense. The decision to rescue this pilot or not to rescue him can be made only by the commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces, and I am asking you to put me through to the commander in chief -- now, Sir."
McNamara started mumbling about it being late when Felt repeated firmly his previous statement, word for word. Tierney, who is relating this, had been instructed by Felt to listen on another secure line. McNamara rang the president, and Lyndon Johnson authorized the rescue. Men such as Felt and Tierney are a blessing. Men such as McNamara are an abomination.
Don't think anyone will jump up to defend a scumbag as bad as McNamara. Part of "The Best and Brightest" bunch Senator Drunko's brother bequeathed this country. But in fairness, LBJ was the main culprit. Either [i]fight[/i] a war with everything you have and destroy the enemey or don't bother, which is a lesson Bush had best take to heart forthwith RE-all these devout Muslim predators.
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[quote][i]Originally posted by Bugg[/i]@Apr 13 2004, 08:27 PM
[b] Don't think anyone will jump up to defend a scumbag as bad as McNamara. Part of "The Best and Brightest" bunch Senator Drunko's brother bequeathed this country. But in fairness, LBJ was the main culprit. Either [i]fight[/i] a war with everything you have and destroy the enemey or don't bother, which is a lesson Bush had best take to heart forthwith RE-all these devout Muslim predators. [/b][/quote]
Read "Vietnam" by Stanley Karnow......you'll learn what a true scumbag McNamara was.
[quote][i]Originally posted by Come Back to NY[/i]@Apr 13 2004, 10:42 PM
Actually the book is very good...it's more of a historical account of Vietnam dating back to 900BC up until 1985 than anything else.
And no I have not read the Hackworth book...any good? [/b][/quote]
I'll try to see it. About Face is the best book I ever read about Viet Nam.