Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara dies
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, the architect of US involvement in the Vietnam War, died in his sleep at his home on Monday, his wife Diana said. He was 92. "His age just caught up with him," his wife Diana told Reuters. "He died peacefully in his sleep."
I'm a McNamara survivor. But over 60,000 of my young contemporaries were not so lucky.
They didn't die in their sleep. Mostly each died, wide awake, in pain and in terror.
And they were not fortunate enough to die at home, in bed, surrounded by loved ones. No, they died in a steamy jungle, thousands of miles from home, surrounded by their own killers.
Robert McNamara is finally dead. Good riddance.
That leaves just Henry Kissinger, the second most blood-soaked insult to humanity. Like McNamara, Kissinger got to live to a ripe old age, unlike the kids in my generation he sent off to senseless slaughter. All that's left of them are names on a cold, black granite wall. But Henry too is old now and, with any luck at all, we'll soon be done with the likes of him as well. Swine flu would be an appropriate agent passing for Henry.
Both men richly deserved a different fate. Each should have been charged, convicted and jailed by the world community for war crimes. Lots of war crimes; Napalm, massacres, Agent Orange, assassinations, Laos, and more -- more than the normal, well-adjusted mind could stomach.
But they weren't held responsible. Instead we allowed them to go on and live among the innocent, the civilized, the famous and, in Kissenger's case, the powerful.
That sent a message, a clear message; if you're too big have to admit you failed, you're also too big to be sent to jail.
That message was surely fresh in the mind of Dick Cheney. After all, Dick had been a witness to much of it all and so, when it came time to launch an illegal, unprovoked war against Iraq, Cheney had no reasons to hesitate. He did what had been done without consequence by McNammara and Kissinger. He lied, kept lying and keeps lying, because lying worked before. And he engineered war crimes, because he'd seen those who did so before him escape any repercussions.
And lo and behold, it seems Dick Cheney was right. Another American war criminal, and his cohorts, have been allowed to rejoin polite society as a members in good standing. He is invited on TV talkshows, to concerts and paid large sums of money for speeches. And we allow it.
Somewhere in the bowels of government, or at its fringes, are some young Robert McNammars, Henry Kissengers and Dick Cheneys, taking note.
Robert McNamara, may he rot in hell.