Would Anyone Have Acted Differently?

Re "Born of Blind Faith" (May 16): Being of similar vintage and comparable background to Robert S. McNamara--a complicated man who has had such an impact on our government--I have read his book "In Retrospect" and listened to his discourses in radio and TV interviews.

Times reporter Robert Scheer captures as well as one can the contradictory features of McNamara's persona: Superior intelligence and executive talent--a man convinced of the rightness and righteousness of his convictions to the point of ignoring the consequences to humans of lesser gifts; rationalizations of decisions that killed or maimed millions on the basis of inadequate advice by knowledgeable people.

Yet I feel Scheer has understated the pressures on McNamara at the time. To me the real tragedy of McNamara's belated admission of miscalculation about Vietnam is that I (and many others I know) would probably have made the same choices as he did at the time, given the circumstances.

But few us would have the ability to acknowledge these mistakes and try to explain our errors in a way that would be understood by our compatriots. I guess this is the really important thing about this man's belated revelations about Vietnam.


Pacific Palisades

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