Skip to comments.McNamara's 'other' crimes: the stories you haven't heard
Posted on 07/06/2009 9:51:12 AM PDT by SLB
The outrage and condemnation that have greeted Robert McNamara's In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam ignore two major scandals of that war which have led to continued pain, anguish, and suffering. McNamara, too, conveniently ignored them in his bloodless account of how he and his colleagues in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations were "wrong, terribly wrong" about Vietnam.
A few months after McNamara told Lyndon Johnson that the war was unwinnable, McNamara did his part to make Vietnam America's greatest class war with his brainchild, Project 100,000. At the same time, McNamara knew but remained silent about the highly toxic effects of Agent Orange. What the former Secretary of Defense omits in his book and during his talk show interviews bears review, particularly since there is the danger that the next generation will study McNamara's self-serving version in America's schools.
In 1966, McNamara initiated the "Moron Corps," as they were piteously nicknamed by other soldiers. Billed as a Great Society program, McNamara's Project 100,000 lowered military enlistment requirements to recruit 100,000 men per year with marginal minds and bodies. Recruiters swept through urban ghettos and southern hill country, taking some youths with I.Q.s below what is considered legally retarded.
In all, 354,000 volunteered for Project 100,000. The minimum passing score on the armed forces qualification test had been 31 out of 100. Under McNamara's Project 100,000, those who scored as low as 10 were taken if they lived in a designated "poverty area." In 1969, out of 120 Marine Corps volunteers from Oakland, California, nearly 90 percent scored under 31; more than 70 percent were black or Mexican. Overall, 41 percent of Project 100,000 volunteers were black, compared to 12 percent of the rest of the armed forces. Touted as providing "rehabilitation," remedial education, and an escape from poverty, the program offered a one-way ticket to Vietnam, where these men fought and died in disproportionate numbers. The much-advertised skills were seldom taught.
McNamara called these men the "subterranean poor," as if they lived in caves. In a way they did; their squalid ghettos and Appalachian hill towns were unseen by affluent America. All the better for McNamara and his president Lyndon Johnson. Unmentioned in Project 100,000's lofty sounding goals was the fact that - as protest became the number-one course of study at America's universities - the men of the "Moron Corps" provided the necessary cannon fodder to help evade the political horror of dropping student deferments or calling up the reserves, which were sanctuaries for the lily-white.
Officials denied that the members of the "Moron Corps" were dying in higher numbers, but the irrefutable statistics embraced by mathematical whiz kid McNamara tell another story. Forty percent of Project 100,000 men were trained for combat, compared with 25 percent of general service. In one 1969 sampling of Project 100,000, the Department of Defense put the attrition-by-death rate at 1.1 percent. By contrast, the overall rate for Vietnam era veterans was only 0.6 percent.
"I think McNamara should be shot," said Herb DeBose, a black first lieutenant in Vietnam, who later worked with incarcerated veterans. "I saw him when he resigned from the World Bank, crying about the poor children of the world. But if he did not cry at all for any of those men he took in under Project 100,000 then he really doesn't know what crying is all about. Many under me weren't even on a fifth-grade level.... I found out they could not read .. no skills before, no skills after. The army was supposed to teach them a trade in something - only they didn't."
As for Agent Orange, McNamara knew about its potential deadly effects even as it was being used in Vietnam, and long before veterans came home to die or waste away from the herbicide's after effects.
McNamara remained silent for years as the government stonewalled Vietnam veterans who claimed Agent Orange caused their cancer or nausea or violent rages or numbness in limbs or birth defects in their children. Veterans' pleas for testing, treatment, and compensation continued to be ignored.
Finally, in 1983, Judge George Pratt, Jr. agreed to hear the lawsuit of Vietnam Veterans against Dow Chemical for conspiring to keep hidden the truth about Agent Orange. For the first time, documents released by Pratt provided a detailed look at what the company and the government knew about dioxin danger and when. In 1965, when the government was purchasing millions of pounds of Agent Orange, Dow's internal report stated that dioxin could be "exceptionally toxic" to humans and that "fatalities have been reported in the literature." Pratt noted that McNamara attended meetings where the human health hazards of dioxin were discussed. In addition, said Pratt, McNamara's Defense Department commissioned a study which noted the "health dangers of the herbicide" in 1967.
After the war, McNamara could do nothing to change the millions of deaths and injuries inflicted on Vietnamese and Americans. But just think what McNamara could have done had he championed the veterans and their families; they were pawns then, no more than faceless numbers. It seems as though they remain so today.
He could have worked, as Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. continues to do, to gain compensation for those killed or injured by Agent Orange. Zumwalt feels it is the least he can do for having ordered the use of the chemical, which killed, among others, his own son. Zumwalt, however, authorized the use of Agent Orange in innocence, unaware of its toxicity. McNamara has no such excuse.
McNamara does have one last chance to go down as a redeemed man, instead of just another name from the past flacking his memoirs and reaping royalties. He could donate the proceeds of his best-seller to programs helping Vietnam veterans.
Thanks to McNamara, they could surely use them.
Guess we should turn the other cheek?
Whoever came up with McNamara’s middle name had the right idea.
Let the dead rest!shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
So that is how Forrest Gump and Buba both got into the Viet Nam war.
Kennedy gets no pass on this. Especially Kennedy!
I for one am glad he is gone. Next up Mr. Kissinger, the game playing incompetent he was and is. His insecurities and games cost much. Too much to be forgiven as is the case with McNamara.
I was a member of the origional group to sue, before it
was made a class action. In the end most veterans got nothing.
As someone I knew then who was dying of cancer said,
“I died in Vietnam, and didn’t even know it.”
I shed no tears for Mcnamara.
Trashing the dead gains you nothing.
Look up Yah'shua is coming soon. shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
Trashing the dead gains you nothing.
The NYT and WaPost havbe rewritten the Viet Nam story. It was all Nixon’s doing...
That miserable SOB along with Johnson and their insane war planning is the reason that I have some dear friends names on the wall. In honor of them I will find out where he is buried and give him a martini bath after I run it through my system first!
And let’s not forget the TFX multi-force fighter boondoggle.
Waaaaaaay too heavy for carrier use.
Finally turned into the F-111.
It was his baby and mess.
“I shed no tears for Mcnamara.”
Me neither. He was a monster and a criminal in every respect; an arrogant and profoundly callous intellectual who had his own bizarre notions of how to get things done, and who persisted with them in defiance of experience, history, and an avalanche of facts.
This story doesn’t just need to be told now, it needs to be told a thousand years from now. It is a universal warning about the hubris of power and status.
The Dems and media can try to shift the blame to Nixon, but facts are facts and Nixon took office years after McNamara did this.
Walter Cronkite and Robert McNamera DEAD, couldn’t be better!
One of them got out of the delivery van and forgot to put it into Park. Of course the truck drifted into my 1968 Chevelle SS convertible!
After that one was fixed, the second one was driving a forklift with a jet engine in a can (forward so he couldn't see where he was going through the engine can) and you'd never guess who's 1968 Chevelle SS convertible he hit.
The third guy was actually pretty smart. He didn't want to go to Viet Nam, and he didn't want to serve four years in the Navy or Air Force to get out of being cannon fodder. The Idiot Program allowed him to enlist for two years with no possibility of re-enlisting, and no Viet Nam deployment (Navy).
I was not a fan of McNamara. I did not and do not believe it's a smart move to put an accountant in charge of our military forces. He tried to micromanage so much that our shipboard commanders finally had to resort to sending "Unless otherwise directed I intend to fire a salvo of 45 rounds of 8 inch naval gunfire at co-ordinates ####### at 0145Z." These messages would be sent minutes prior to providing gunfire support to comply with the requirements to get permission to fire, but not be too late to help the troops.
I'll never understand how this man's ego let him believe that he knew more about military tactics than graduates of West Point and Annapolis.
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