Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Best and the Brightest

They really were the best and the brightest -- the men at the top of presidential government in the 1960s. They were highly intelligent, well educated, realistic, dedicated, competent -- the best men in America -- but it still didn't work.

I re-read David Halbertstram's book about the origins of the War in Vietnam, which I first read in 1972, the year it was published.

My views on the subject haven't changed. Lyndon Johnson was a figure of towering tragedy. He and McNamara never really decided to go to war in Southeast Asia, it just kind of happened -- at the highest level of rational planning, they actually never made a clear decision about what to do -- what an amazing story.

I decided, sometime in the late 1960s, to oppose the war -- I realized that we could have the Great Society's War on Poverty, we could send a man to the moon, and we could fight a land war in Asia against communism -- but we could not possibly do all three at the same time.

I was right about that.

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