Friday, February 06, 2004

The Company Man Does His Penance. UC Berkeley enacts a bizarre auto-da-fe:

Under the glare of bright lights, Mr. McNamara, 87, faced an audience of graying hippies, men with Vietnam draft lottery numbers still imprinted in their minds and an assortment of 1960's radicals who had devoted the better part of their youths opposing him...

But instead of angry exchanges, there was applause and nods of sympathy from Mr. Ellsberg and many of the others, as Mr. McNamara, his voice pitched and his ballpoint pen jabbing in the air, spoke pointedly about the lessons of war.

"We human beings killed 160 million other human beings in the 20th century," he said. "Is that what we want in this century? I don't think so..."

Mr. McNamara got some of his biggest applause Wednesday night for comments that were stridently antiwar. He spoke against pre-emptive war and regime change as ways to deal with nuclear proliferation. He spoke of a United States divided between multilateralists and unilateralists, and a nuclear policy that had not been fully debated in public.

McNamara is a fascinating figure: the ultimate Establishment figure, the perfect company man. When the Establishment wanted Vietnam, he gave them Vietnam. When they rejected it, so did he. When they made it the center of their moral condemnation of America, he took upon himself the role of chief flagellent. Extraordinary; a man with absolutely no capacity for individual thought whatsoever. No wonder he fit in so well at Berkeley. It must have been a deep satisfaction to the likes of necro-Chomskyite traitor Daniel Ellsberg, who lust for self-regard and self-satisfaction with a religious desperation. This is now McNamara's role in a bankrupt and decadent Establishment, to provide them a circus of affirmation, a glorious feast of moral narcissism. Its actually a little sad, isn't it?