Why Can't Obama See His Wars Are Unwinnable?
by Ted Rall
PORTLAND, OREGON--Robert McNamara, one of the "best and the brightest" technocrats behind the escalation of the Vietnam War, eventually came to regret his actions. But his public contrition, which included a book and a series of interviews for the documentary "The Fog of War," were greeted with derision.
"Mr. McNamara must not escape the lasting moral condemnation of his countrymen," editorialized The New York Times in 1995. "Surely he must in every quiet and prosperous moment hear the ceaseless whispers of those poor boys in the infantry, dying in the tall grass, platoon by platoon, for no purpose. What he took from them cannot be repaid by prime-time apology and stale tears, three decades late."
McNamara's change of heart came 58,000 American and 2,000,000 Vietnamese lives too late. If the dead could speak, surely they would ask: why couldn't you see then what you understand so clearly now? Why didn't you listen to the millions of experts, journalists and ordinary Americans who knew that death and defeat would be the only outcome?
Though Errol Morris' film served as ipso facto indictment, its title was yet a kind of justification. There is no "fog of war." There is only hubris, stubbornness, and the psychological compartmentalization that allows a man to sign papers that will lead others to die before going home to play with his children.
McNamara is dead. Barack Obama is his successor.