Wow, I just picked up Fog of War this weekend, too.
I read his book and I watched the movie and I think he comes across as full of shit. Conveniently, Kennedy was *just* about to get out of Vietnam immediately when he was killed, then big bad Lyndon B Johnson came and ruined everything. As I remember the book, he goes on forever about how he reorganized the Defense Department to make it this efficient machine because he was so brilliant, but then some key decision - what it was escapes me right now - was made by like the No 3 or 4 person in the DoD because Kennedy, Johnson, McNamara and a few other key people were ALL unavailable for like an eight-hour window. I might be remembering the specific details wrong, but that was the gist of it. Again, conveniently, it wasn't his fault.
McNamara claimed he was coming to terms with his own role in creating the war in Vietnam, he presented the book in such a way that he was at least admitting mistakes were made, and all he did was pass the buck. He was a dishonest coward, in my opinion.
I'm not trying to shit on him, it sucks for his family that he's dead I guess, but that doesn't mean he was a good man. His death doesn't change the things he did and I don't think he ever honestly accepted or admitted his own role.
He did, it seems to me, do some good things while head of the World Bank. But I don't know nearly enough about that because I don't think he ever wrote a book about that, and if he did I haven't read it.
Originally posted by TheBucsFan He did, it seems to me, do some good things while head of the World Bank. But I don't know nearly enough about that because I don't think he ever wrote a book about that, and if he did I haven't read it.
Not to speak ill of the dead, but I would argue his stint as head of the World Bank was equally disastrous. If you look at where the World Bank invested their money during his tenure (mostly Africa), you'll see the main result was chaos, huge amounts of debt and incredibly rich rulers (and former rulers) of the poorest countries on earth. Shockingly, when poor countries with nonexistent legal systems and rampant corruption received loans from the World Bank, the money mostly ended up in the bank accounts of the ruling elite--who could have predicted that?!? He also was in the vanguard of people supporting state-sponsored population control, arguing that high levels of population growth were what kept poor countries from becoming rich. While the population growth argument was probably true, the solution is/was pretty barbaric. Besides, the solution ignores the root cause of population growth.
The weakness in his analysis was that a smart plan would lead to good results. Tragically, this ignored the importance of strong institutions. Douglass North won the Nobel Prize in Economics largely as a result of debunking the type of top down development model espoused by McNamara (and others, of course).
There is no question that McNamara was smart. The problem was he was also arrogant, thinking that a Big Plan could be imposed from the top down and that everything would fall into line from there.
Originally posted by CorajudoShockingly, when poor countries with nonexistent legal systems and rampant corruption received loans from the World Bank, the money mostly ended up in the bank accounts of the ruling elite--who could have predicted that?!?
Not to mention, the ruling elite paid back those loans at the expense of their own people, usually in fairly brutal ways. That was the heart of the issue behind the debt forgiveness campaign that certain folks were championing.
We all have ways of coping. I use sex and awesomeness.