McNamara, perhaps because his sense of American rightness remained tone-deaf to the end, died over Independence Day weekend.
But, as Will Bunch observes:
The life of Robert McNamara was a personal tragedy, but it was also an American tragedy, our tragedy -- because even after McNamara spelled out everything that went so horribly wrong in Vietnam, he lived long enough to see a new generation of the self-appointed "best and brightest" in Washington pay absolutely no mind to the lessons of our recent past.
In Iraq, as in Vietnam, our policy-makers knew nothing or cared little about the long history and convoluted ethnic and religious politics of Mesopotamia's Fertile Crescent. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, there was no plan for the proper military follow-up to a period of "shock and awe" bombing. In Iraq, as in Vietnam, we totally misjudged the "nationalism" of the people who lived there and how they would react to a long American occupation. And perhaps most importantly, In Iraq, as in Vietnam, there was no real "public debate" as we marched headlong and foolishly into the 2003 -- with way too many "unexamined assumptions," "unasked questions," and "readily dismissed alternatives."
I didn't have much sympathy for McNamara's suffering; I grew up at the wrong time for that. But, as Bunch suggests, perhaps it was his penance to live so long, so aware of the consequences of the evil he'd helped set in motion even if he remained unable to grasp the fundamental cause of his error.
If that's the way it works, I suppose we have no choice but to wish a long, healthy, and lucid life to Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, George W. Bush, et al.
But I'm not that optimistic.