Academic journal article Military Review

McNamara, Clifford, and the Burdens of Vietnam, 1965-1969: Secretaries of Defense Historical Series

Academic journal article Military Review

McNamara, Clifford, and the Burdens of Vietnam, 1965-1969: Secretaries of Defense Historical Series

Article excerpt

McNAMARA, CLIFFORD, AND THE BURDENS OF VIETNAM, 1965-1969

Secretaries of Defense Historical Series

Vol. VI, Edward J. Drea, Historical Office

Office of the Secretary of Defense

Washington, DC, 2011, 694 pages, $68.00

AS SECRETARY OF defense from 1961 to 1968, Robert S. McNamara completely reorganized the defense budgetary process, created the Defense Intelligence Agency and Defense Logistics Agency, and helped define the strategy of mutually assured destruction based on the nuclear triad. Yet, as Edward Drea concludes in this magnificent volume, "for all his luminous achievements, his choices that led to the Vietnam disaster will forever remain McNamara's enduring legacy."

Vietnam is, in fact, the major focus of this study. McNamara's unusual combination of intellectual assurance and total loyalty to President Johnson led the secretary to a series of fatal errors. McNamara's business instincts for efficiency, when combined with Johnson's tendency to delay key decisions, meant the United States used military force in a series of halting, inadequate steps that continuously raised the level of stalemate in Southeast Asia without offering any opportunity for victory or settlement. For similar reasons, McNamara repeatedly deferred weapons development and under-budgeted the costs of the war until, by 1968, U. …

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