Robert McNamara Dies at 93

The man who led the US military into the Vietnam War, Robert S. McNamara, defense secretary for Kennedy and Johnson, died July 6 at his home. McNamara wrote in a memoir long after the war that he knew all along the war was a mistake and that he and other policymakers “had not truly investigated what was essentially at stake.” However, John Correll, long-time Air Force Magazine editor in chief, wrote in a 1995 editorial that McNamara “was not some star-crossed functionary who went passively along. … He was so fiery an advocate that Vietnam became known as ‘McNamara’s War.’ ” Correll, who wrote that McNamara “could give duplicity a bad name,” pointed out that rather than making an admission of guilt, the bulk of the memoir relates that the decisions McNamara made were “honest mistakes and not altogether the fault of McNamara and his friends.” Correll noted, too, that McNamara regarded as insignificant the early advice of his service chiefs that the US had not defined a valid military objective for the war. Correll added, “With similar arrogance, McNamara continues to believe that his strategic and tactical abilities were better than those of the military professionals and that his micromanagement of the war was a good idea.” McNamara was an economist who served for three years in the Army Air Corps during World War II before joining Ford Motor Company, working his way up to company president, a position he held for about a month before accepting the top DOD post. After leaving the Pentagon, he led The World Bank for some 13 years and then served as a director and consultant to numerous organizations.