Blogs > HNN > A footnote on the death of Robert McNamara

Jul 7, 2009 8:13 am

A footnote on the death of Robert McNamara

Robert McNamara, as we have seen in Errol Morris’s “The Fog of War” (2003) and in his own reflections on the Vietnam War, was tormented by his central role in the escalation of that disastrous conflict. He finally began talking about that role in 1995 in In Retrospect after remaining silent for a quarter century. Few major figures in American politics had maintained their silence for so long on an issue with which they were so intimately involved.

When I asked him for an interview for Johnson, Nixon, and the Doves (1988) in April 1983, I received my original letter back with a tiny handwritten note scribbled in pencil along the top border—“I would be happy to talk to you but it is unlikely we will be able to find a convenient time during the next several months—e.g. I will have made 5 round trips to Europe within 10 weeks.” Over the next year, and well after those ten weeks, on the four occasions when I called his office to tell his secretary that I would be in town for the interview, he was always unavailable. When I later informed McGeorge Bundy, another interviewee, that I was planning on talking to McNamara, he asked, “Didn’t you know that Mac never talks about the Vietnam War?” I had not been aware of that fact until that point and never did find out why he responded positively to my initial inquiry.

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mary lili jory - 8/16/2009

I like very much the writings and pictures and explanations in your adress so I look forward to see your next writings.
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