Joseph L. Galloway: Robert McNamara shredded truth and distorted history





... Back in 1990, I had a series of strange phone conversations with McNamara while doing research for my book We Were Soldiers Once . . . And Young. McNamara prefaced every conversation with this: "I do not want to comment on the record for fear that I might distort history in the process." Then he would proceed to talk for an hour, doing precisely that with answers that were disingenuous in the extreme — when they were not bald-faced lies.

After hanging up, I would call Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam and run McNamara’s comments past them for deconstruction and the addition of the truth.

The only disagreement I ever had with Halberstam was over the question of which of us hated McNamara the most. In retrospect, it was Halberstam.

When McNamara published his first book — filled with those distortions of history — Halberstam, at his own expense, set out on a journey following McNamara on his American book tour as a one-man truth squad.

McNamara abandoned the tour.

The most bizarre incident involving McNamara occurred when he was president of the World Bank and, off on his summer holiday, he caught the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. It was a night crossing in bad weather. McNamara was in the salon, drink in hand, schmoozing with fellow passengers. On the deck outside, a Vineyard hippie artist glanced through the window and did a double-take. The artist was outraged to see McNamara, whom he viewed as a war criminal, so enjoying himself....


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