In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam

כריכה קדמית
Vintage Books, 1996 - 518 עמודים
5 ביקורות
Robert S. McNamara, secretary of defense for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, helped lead America into Vietnam. McNamara believed that the fight against communism in Asia was worth the sacrifice of American lives, and yet he eventually came to believe that the war was, in fact, unwinnable. Outnumbered by those who wanted to continue fighting, he left the Johnson administration and his involvement in Vietnam behind. He refused any public comment on the war, and for almost three decades has kept his silence--until now. Drawing on his personal experience and a wealth of documentation--much of it only recently declassified and some presented here for the first time ever--McNamara has crafted the classic insider account of Vietnam policy making. He reveals exactly how we stumbled into the war, and exactly why it quickly became so difficult to pull out. McNamara takes us into the Oval Office for late-night discussions with the president, into the halls of the Pentagon as military strategy is argued, and into the chambers of Congress as policy is debated. He also reveals his own inner torment as the war effort becomes increasingly frustrating, and then utterly disastrous. The result is a book that is not only history of the highest order, but also revealing portrait of the trials of leadership.--Adapted from publisher description.
 

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LibraryThing Review

ביקורת משתמש  - carterchristian1 - LibraryThing

An essential resource for history of the U.S. participation in the Vietnam war. McNamara gives candid assessments of Johnson and other American participants. Frequently he lays out a situation then ... קרא סקירה מלאה

LibraryThing Review

ביקורת משתמש  - cwhouston - LibraryThing

If only more key decision makers on the world stage would make similar literary undertakings. This is RS McNamara's account of his early career and subsequent term as Secretary of Defence under ... קרא סקירה מלאה

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מונחים וביטויים נפוצים

מידע על המחבר (1996)

from the Preface

This is the book I planned never to write.

Although pressed repeatedly for over a quarter of a century to add my views on Vietnam to the public record, I hesitated for fear that I might appear self-serving, defensive, or vindictive, which I wished to avoid at all costs. Perhaps I hesitated also because it is hard to face one's mistakes. But something changed my attitude and willingness to speak. I am responding not to a desire to get out my personal story but rather to a wish to put before the American people why their government and its leaders behaved as they did and what we may learn from that experience.

My associates in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations were an exceptional group: young, vigorous, intelligent, well-meaning, patriotic servants of the United States. How did this group--"the best and the brightest," as we eventually came to be known in an ironically pejorative phrase--get it wrong on Vietnam? That story has not yet been told.

But why now? Why after all these years of silence am I convinced I should speak? There are many reasons; the main one is that I have grown sick at heart witnessing the cynicism and even contempt with which so many people view our political institutions and leaders.

Many factors helped lead to this: Vietnam, Watergate, scandals, corruption. But I do not believe, on balance, that America's political leaders have been incompetent or insensitive to their responsibilities and to the welfare of the people who elected them and to whom they are accountable. Nor do I believe they have been any worse than their foreign counterparts or their colleagues in the private sector. Certainly they have shown themselves to be far from perfect, but people are far from perfect. They have made mistakes, but mostly honest mistakes.

This underscores my own painful quandary about discussing Vietnam. I know that, to this day, many political leaders and scholars in the United States and abroad argue that the Vietnam War actually helped contain the spread of Communism in South and East Asia. Some argue that it hastened the end of the Cold War. But I also know that the war caused terrible damage to America. No doubt exists in my mind about that. None. I want to look at Vietnam in hindsight, not in any way to obscure my own and others' errors of judgment and their egregious costs but to show the full range of pressures and the lack of knowledge that existed at the time.

I want to put Vietnam in context.

We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation. We made our decisions in light of those values.

Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.

I truly believe that we made an error not of values and intentions but of judgment and capabilities. I say this warily, since I know that if my comments appear to justify or rationalize what I and others did, they will lack credibility and only increase people's cynicism. It is cynicism that makes Americans reluctant to support their leaders in the actions necessary to confront and solve our problems at home and abroad.

I want Americans to understand why we made the mistakes we did, and to learn from them. I hope to say, "Here is something we can take away from Vietnam that is constructive and applicable to the world of today and tomorrow." That is the only way our nation can ever hope to leave the past behind. The ancient Greek dramatist Aeschylus wrote, "The reward of suffering is experience." Let this be the lasting legacy of Vietnam.

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