It may sound provocative, and it is, and it may sound irrational but it is not, that the late Robert S. McNamara, the secretary of defense under President John F. Kennedy, should be recognized as one of history's giant defenders of peace.
I suppose it is my paucity of imagination that has considerably delayed my full appreciation of McNamara's magnificent and complex confession with his book In Retrospect (1).
So much more to be done to heal old wounds, particularly yellow craters inflicted by brilliant minds and their flying machines in Vietnam and Cambodia.
But my core interest in the topic is not about the extent of human losses but rather our collective failure to boldly celebrate McNamara's historical accomplishment: he is the first modern statesman who openly acknowledges his errors and takes responsibility for them. This is a first in history and it is a very good thing for humanity.
I want to bypass all the drama, all the phony diplomatic rhetoric, the thinly veiled transparency of obsessive minds and to leap over all the artificialities to embrace and celebrate McNamara's unique gift to humanity.
It is my hypothesis that Bundy, McNamara, Allen Dulles (the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency), General Curtis LeMay (Air Force chief of staff), Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, and possibly a few others engineered a coup d'e'tat to wage war in Vietnam. It is also my hypothesis that President Kennedy's death was just the collateral damage of war and so was the disappearance of over a thousand people after the assassination.
Why do common sense, reason, and statistics suggest that all the following pieces perfectly fit together for a complex design to make a coup d'e'tat a success? They are all very rare or extraordinary firsts in history. For instance, the president, the vice president, and virtually the entire Cabinet were away from Washington on the day of the coup (2). The president was in Texas along with the vice president, and the Cabinet were on their way to Tokyo.