The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Robert McNamara:
A Long Career Serving Imperialism

Jul 20, 2009

Robert McNamara, who died July 6, is not widely known today, but he was once infamous as Secretary of Defense, in charge of the U.S. military escalation in Viet Nam.

In fact, his whole career, from Viet Nam to the World Bank, demonstrated a continuous service in the bloody interests of the U.S. bourgeoisie.

During World War II, Robert McNamara helped plan the firebombing of Tokyo for General Curtis LeMay’s forces. Many years later, McNamara commented, “We burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo–men, women and children. LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He–and I’d say I–were behaving as war criminals.”

Returned to civilian life, McNamara climbed the hierarchy of Ford Motor Co. to become its CEO in 1960. One year later, President Kennedy asked him to become his Secretary of Defense. He presided over the creation of paramilitary forces, using what McNamara himself called “terror, extortion and assassination” against regimes throughout Asia and Latin America.

After Kennedy was assassinated, McNamara kept his post under President Johnson and designed the military escalation in Viet Nam that eventually was blocked by the Tet offensive carried out by the Vietnamese in 1968. Very keen on statistics, McNamara himself calculated that his policy cost the lives of 3.4 million Vietnamese.

After his resignation as Secretary of Defense, he became head of the World Bank. For 13 years, he pretended to struggle against poverty through the World Bank, by pushing the so-called “development” loans. In reality, these loans were as predatory as today’s sub-prime mortgages. Countries had to pay back the loans with sizeable interest. Among the beneficiaries were the dictators of Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, the Philippines, Indonesia and even Rumania under Ceaucescu. The populations of these countries paid doubly–as victims of military repression and of so-called “modernization.”

McNamara’s “modernization” meant that millions of peasants lost their lands in order to profit monster agribusiness companies.

During his entire career, McNamara carried out with zeal the policies of a U.S. imperialism bent on dominating the whole world.