Controversial and occasionally infamous Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Robert S. McNamare has died. THe Vietnam War was a constant feature of life and news when I was growing up, and so was McNamara.
He was involved in many infamous decisions of the 1960’s,. I especially remember the micro-managed war itself, and the mismanagement of the Army’s M-16 rifle. I recently saw “Fog of War“, a documentary on his life, including the peculiar “bean-counter” business-analysis approach he seemed to typify. In the documentary, he discussed his involvement in analysis of strategic bombing of Japan in WWII under Curtis LeMay, leading up to the low-level fire bombing attacks that, in some cases, killed more people in a night than the atomic bombings. The historical context and experience he provided in this way would be invaluable for current and future policy makers, if they took the time to review them.
He seems to have spent much of his later life repenting of his involvement in war and politics, and advocating projects to combat poverty.