A european view of Robert S. McNamara

Is not a character I know much about and I cannot equate him with a ‘love’ or ‘hate’ reaction which I’m sure many americans could and do (Americans please discuss Denis Healy, heard of him?). What I can admire is is his ‘honesty’ in the documentary [Fog of War] It makes a rare change to hear somebody admiting to be human and making mistakes.

Being ignorant, too young and european. I then went and read his books – The first being

“In retrospect : the tragedy and lessons of Vietnam”,Robert S. McNamara
Publication, distribution Times Books , 1995
ISBN 0-7126-7682-1

The ‘In retrospect’ book was very well written being someone who knows little about Vietnam, or had relatives that fought in it he sets the picture well. So at this point I respect him. Admiting mistakes is a brave thing which most leaders do not do these days.

The other book ‘Wilsons Dream’ is is a collaboration with a professor of foriegn policy/affairs called James Blight deals with the end of the cold war and has some gems like.

Kaplan: The greatest threat to our value system comes from Africa. Can we continue to believe in universal principles as Africa decliens to levels better described by Dante than by development economists? …

After all it has been fifty years since the first of the African colonies where set ‘free’. ‘Aid’ has not helped many but only a few.

I take issue with much of the second chapter where the authors talk about the three empires and maintaining the peace.

  • Is Taiwan a mistake that will start a new global conflict?
  • Tibet existed an an ‘entity’ (defeating the British army) long before the concept of China and Mao decided he wanted it for the mountian hikes. –

So if your going to talk about nation states and Woodrow Wilsons vision of cooperation (that never came to pass) perhaps the question should be ‘when in history’ is a nation considered independant?. A world governed by three leaders terrifies me. It might make government easy but good for the citizens of the planet?

Based on the views stated above (and not agreed by the authors) England might as well be considered a French colony based on the 1066 invasion. Who represents you is a moot point – 74 bodies claimed to speak for the Armenian people in 1918 at Paris. At the end of day its going to down to the use of force or who has the most guns.

As to the failure of peace in the last century it has had one benefit – ecology – if the 300 million people who died due to war and the consequences of it where alive today – you have to wonder about what state the planet would be in. Armies may not die now, civilians do most of that in modern conflict so the more member nations of Nato/Pan somewhere ‘regional army club’ the better.

Chapter 3 deals with issues of failed states.

National aspirations must be respected; peoples may now be governed only by their own consent. “Self determination” is not a mere phrase It is an imperative principle of action. Peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty
Woodrow Wilson 1919

I don’t see much room in there for the Chinese leadership in that statement. The Crux here is “How much evil do have to do to do good” – And once your there was it enough ? Wilson quoted about the ‘typoon’ and that ‘liberalism’ must reinvent itself for the better one hopes rather than emulate failed states.

Now why some countries get the ‘care’ treatment (Serbia, Iraq) , and others don’t (Rowanda). Is something you can discuss.

The last part deals with Nuclear conflict (its a happy tome this book). The fact that sometime in the future some of us will be walking (or dead) with an amount of man made element 235 in the surviving population. Perhaps as it is hard to uninvent things. That a nuclear bomb fired in anger will prove that there leadership was rather shortsighted.

I can also touch on the subject of ‘missile shields’, it seems that to maintain the status quo – it is still going to be the civilians who will die in a nuclear war (soldiers its seem are too valuable to allow to die, so the trend started by wars in the last century continue into the next). But if that means no leadership job for anyone well I’m not going to complain, and it might ‘save the planet’.

One documentary, and two books later I respect him still.

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