Obama Shares McNamara's Fatal Flaw

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2009 7:14 AM CDT
In a Nov. 17, 1961 file photo, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara holds a news conference at the Pentagon.   (AP Photo/Harvey Georges, File)
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(Newser) – For some the death of Robert McNamara was the last chapter of a bygone disaster, but as George Will writes, Barack Obama and his team have more in common with the architect of Vietnam than they realize. McNamara's "eerie assuredness pervades the Washington in which he died," writes the Washington Post columnist, who chides the liberal establishment for believing it can have "everything—really everything—under control."

McNamara encapsulated a belief that the world can be perfectly controlled by the right policy choices, even if "the behavior of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong did not respond as expected to America's finely calibrated stimuli." That certainty is shared not only by Obama but also his political opponents, the neoconservatives, who are pushing for a McNamara-style "surgical strike" on Iran. But at this convulsive moment, writes Will, Washington needs to rethink its "audacious hope of mastering everything."