Upon his passing on Monday, I took something of a forensic interest in this photo from the NYT’s Robert McNamara slideshow. It pictures the former Defense Secretary with Rumsfeld, then currently in the job, as well as former Secretaries Carlucci and Brzezinski.
Unfortunately, reference to the gathering is pretty slight, while the caption only names the players along with the date of 2003.
Given that the Iraq War began in March of that year and the powerful documentary, The Fog of War (in which McNamara expresses deep regret for his stewardship of the Vietnam War), was released in December, my sense, on first pass, was to question the comity here between McNamara and Rumsfeld.
But then, there are all kinds of other factors to consider, including the ritual of such ceremonial get togethers — Rumsfeld, the practiced politician, likely appealing to vanity to solicit advice he then wouldn’t heed. As well, we also know from his appearance with Director Errol Morris in Berkeley in ’04 that McNamara refused to apply his lessons about war to the invasion of Iraq even if he welcomed others to do so.
Taken together, these facts suggest that fraternity goes a long way at the pinnacle of the warrior class.
(image: Stephen Crowley/NYT)