Object Lessons of Robert McNamara's Life

The object lessons of Robert McNamara’s (search) life... the miscalculations and purposeful bad deeds of World War II, of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War seem quaint and antique to us now.

McNamara and Lyndon Johnson (search) were making calculations about the North Vietnamese, which were similar to the ones they made about the Russians in the Cuban Missile Crisis (search)

McNamara’s argument — that war shouldn't be necessary between cultures of similar values, if the leaders will make an attempt to talk and make each is understood by the other — is a fine argument, but totally irrelevant to today.

The values of the culture of Usama bin Laden (search) and Saddam Hussein (search) are totally alien to ours. There is no way to talk to the terror mastermind, and the former Iraqi dictator proved there was no way to talk to him.

So what are we supposed to learn from McNamara? That if we have another Cold War (search) — clash of superpowers — we should walk softly and be careful with our big stick? Sure. OK. Got it.

But what about the bin Ladens of the world? Do the McNamara of the world believe we can somehow sit and reason with them?

We don't know. The movie doesn't answer that question.

McNamara’s dilemmas were of another time — worth studying, but almost irrelevant to today's very difficult decisions.

That's My Word.

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