Thoughts Engendered by Robert McNamara's in Retrospect
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY WASHINGTON DC CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF INTELLIGENCE
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Mr. McNamaras accounting of history is ambiguous, debatable, and, above all, selective. It does illuminate certain facets of policymaking and intelligence, but it does not dispel many of the frustrations that have long clouded our comprehension of the war. Mr. McNamaras troubled conscience tells us, repeatedly, that he and his colleagues were wrong, terribly wrong. They should not have tried to fight a guerrilla war with conventional military tactics against a foe willing to absorb enormous casualties. . . in a country lacking the fundamental political stability necessary to conduct effective military and pacification operations. It could not be done, and it was not done. They did not adequately level with the public. There were many occasions in which they should have begun considering a withdrawal from Vietnam. And so on. He lists many questions which US conduct of the war left unanswered. Would the loss of South Vietnam pose a threat to US security serious enough to warrant extreme action to prevent it If so, what kind of action should we take Should it include the introduction of US air and ground forces Risking war with China What would be the ultimate cost of such a program in economic, military, political, and human terms Could it succeed And if the chances of success were low and the costs high, were there other courses such as neutralization or withdrawal that deserved careful study and debate In Mr. McNamaras view, these questions remained unanswered during Lyndon Johnsons presidency and for many many years thereafter.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics