Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Self-professed War Criminal Robert McNamara Dies (1916-2009

Clips from Errol Morris's documentary, The Fog of War - Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2004)

From Joe Costello's obit at AlterNet:

Today, Mr. McNamara's ilk remain very much in charge. Our political system is even more centralized than it was when he was at Defense. The idea that technocrats can run a large and unwieldy government is the true-faith of DC. While we are no longer bombing SE Asia, we kill with the same technical ferocity in the illegitimate wars of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. While our auto companies, no longer the shining star of global industry, still remain vital to the health of the US economy, or so we are told from DC. And behind the present financial fiasco, we find any number of well educated young men working in elaborate offices and manipulating numbers and formulas thinking they control the world. And yes, at the same time committing fraud after fraud, and lying through their teeth every step of the way.

Mr. McNamara's America is a fairly ugly place, it is in so many ways against the politics of this republic's founding. It is imperial, elitist, and predatory.
For me, Robert McNamara represented everything that was wrong about America. I grew up with his face on television, telling smooth lies about the Vietnam War. He served the titans of industry, from Ford Motor Company to the World Bank, and in the Pentagon, of course. He was involved in the murder of over a million of people, many of them burned to death.

If you want to know who this man was -- and there is a complexity to the man, as there is a complexity to our civilization, so full of marvels and mass murder -- watch Morris's documentary, The Fog of War, from which the clip above are drawn. In the film, McNamara comes closer than he ever would to acknowledging the immensity of his crimes:

"I don't fault Truman for dropping the nuclear bomb. The U.S.-Japanese War was one of the most brutal wars in all of human history -- kamikaze pilots, suicide, unbelievable. What one can criticize is that the human race prior to that time -- and today -- has not really grappled with what are, I'll call it, 'the rules of war.' Was there a rule then that said you shouldn't bomb, shouldn't kill, shouldn't burn to death 100,000 civilians in one night?

"[World War II General Curtis] LeMay said, 'If we'd lost the war, we'd all have been prosecuted as war criminals.' And I think he's right. He, and I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?

Unfortunately, no era dies with McNamara's death. The struggle against imperialist wars and policies continues, and the "might makes right" ethos that is the unpronounced ideology of the governmental and societal leadership of this country.

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