REUTERS: Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara died on Monday aged 93. He will be remembered most as the leading architect of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War. McNamara also forged brilliant careers in industry and international finance, but his painful legacy remains Vietnam. More than anyone else except possibly President Lyndon Johnson, McNamara became to anti-war critics the symbol of a failed policy that left more than 58,000 U.S. troops dead and the nation bogged down in a seemingly endless disaster in Southeast Asia. Pundits came to call the conflict “McNamara’s War.” With his slicked-back hair and rimless glasses, he became a familiar face to the nation as one of “the best and the brightest” assembled by President John Kennedy to form his policy-making brain trust. But he left the Cabinet in 1968 under pressure from Johnson. By then disillusioned with the war, McNamara had criticized U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. He spent the rest of his life trying to explain the U.S. role in Vietnam and apologizing for his mistakes, becoming the subject of an Academy Award winning documentary, “The Fog of War.” MORE
The Fog of War (trailer)
FRESH AIR: In a 1995 interview with Terry Gross, McNamara reflects on Vietnam and admits his serious doubts about US policy and the decision-making that escalated the war. He also talks about the behind-the-scenes decision-making policies that escalated the war. The interview was recorded shortly after McNamara wrote In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. The book contained the long awaited admission that McNamara believed U.S. policy in Vietnam was wrong and the war un-winnable.