McNamara was no hero
John McCormick writes March 7 about Robert McNamara, how it was “not always easy to stand by your beliefs” and “that is the sign of a true hero” (“Simple is best,” letters, The Aspen Times). That’s one of the dumbest things I have read in our paper in a long time. If McNamara was some kind of hero, then Russ Limpboy is an advocate of women’s rights.
You’d have to go back to the days of the KKK or maybe to our slaughtering of Indians to find any low point in the U.S. near what we did in Vietnam, and McNamara was one of the prime forces, along with LBJ and Gen. Westmorlan, of what we did there. For those who didn’t live with it, and might not be that familiar with the war, the U.S. invaded Vietnam, killed a million or more of its people, many of them civilian women and children, and lost about 58,000 of our own men and another 200,000 or so wounded.
We dropped napalm on civilians and Agent Orange on large areas of the country. After 30 years, I can still see the Time cover photo of the little girl running down the road with all her clothes burned off from napalm. Not the stuff of heroes in my mind.
It wasn’t hard for LBJ and McNamara to “stand by your beliefs.” They never had to risk anything themselves, never had to put themselves in danger, never had to kill anyone directly; instead they sat back and sent hundreds of thousands of young men to do their dirty work for them.
They helped our country become one of the world’s bullies, looked down on by most of the rest of the world and not joined in this invasion by most of our allies.
It wasn’t under McNamara, but with the same pro-war, body-count cult, U.S. troops murdered about 300 civilian women and children at My Lai; no excuse of misplaced bombing, this was by shooting in person, face to face. Then troops shot unarmed students on college campuses in the U.S. If you are naive enough to think that we really have high standards and there is justice for all, you’d expect that the military people who committed these murders were prosecuted. And you’d be very wrong. I was recently out of college and in the Air Force at that time, and I can’t imagine shooting into a crowd of students.
And for the most part the military was the willing tool of LBJ and Nixon, and very few ever stood up and said this was wrong, just as under Bush in Iraq.
U.S. propaganda often pointed out the cruel and inhumane treatment of our POWs by the Vietnamese, like Sen. John McCain, but it is almost never pointed out that these men were invading and bombing that country when captured.
I don’t know what McCormick’s ties to Vietnam or McNamara are, but his view of what a hero is are not those of the majority of the American people, especially with the clarity of time.
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I try to remember to give thanks every day I spend outside, whether it be floating the Colorado or Roaring Fork, fishing an epic dry fly hatch on the Fryingpan, or teasing up tiny brook trout on a remote lake or stream. We’re spoiled rotten here, so it’s easy to be thankful.