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McNamara & Vietnam

In response to:

The Abuse of McNamara from the May 25, 1995 issue

To the Editors:

Yes, Robert McNamara (and Theodore Draper) are correct in their assessment of the Viêt-Nam War. We lost the war. We needn’t have ever gone. However, McNamara’s publication of In Retrospect coinciding with the twentieth anniversary of the fall of Sài-Gòn does make the motive for publication suspect.

Yes, the book tarnishes the Air America memorial at The University of Texas at Dallas where my husband’s name and 250 names of other war dead appear. It reflects poorly on a similar Air America memorial at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It shadows the photograph of the Air America helicopter rescue from a Sài-Gòn rooftop. It pains my brother, a 101st airborne Viêt-Nam veteran, and our families.

Yes, my sixth-grade students at the private school where I teach are puzzled when I attempt to explain the “grey” areas of our US history and the “zone of silence” our government deems necessary under which to operate. Their puzzlement is similar to my naive confusion when I was told 18 Feb 70 in Bangkok not to discuss my husband’s death with anyone; then 12 hours later in the Frankfurt airport I saw The New York Times headline: “CIA Pilot Killed: First Casualty Plain of Jars.”

And yes, it strains my 50 years of Christian teachings and 30 years of Buddhist studies not to want to place Robert McNamara with Jane Fonda squarely in my sights.

Kay Merkel Boruff
Dallas, Texas

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