Anyone who watched Amy Goodman‘s Democracy Now!Â interview yesterday of Marilyn Young, leftist Professor of History at New York University, and Howard Zinn, Marxist Professor of Political Science at Boston University,Â would have been struck byÂ its parallels to a National Geographic special showing footage of a pack of Â jackals circling a freshly killed carcass in an East African savanna. The ensuing feeding frenzy in both pieces could have been used interchangeably.
The topic of discussion was the legacy of Robert S. McNamara, the hated (which was made quite clear in the interview) Secretary of Defense under the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. McNamara prosecuted America’s most controversial conflict, the Vietnam War, with such devotion that it later became known as “McNamara’s war.”
McNamara’s reputation as the cerebral architect and micro-manager of that war was the beginning point where Goodman dangled a piece of verbal red meat at Young and Zinn to get the discussion rolling. Said Zinn:
“It seems that one of the things we should be thinking about is that McNamara represented all of those superficial qualities of brightness and intelligence and education that are so revered in our culture. This whole idea that you judge [individuals]…on the basis of how smart they are…how much information they can digest [is absurd]…that was what McNamara was good at. He was bright, he was smart, but he had no moral intelligence.”
Even worse, in Zinn’s analysis McNamara never gave a satisfactory reason for why we were involved in the war in the first place. Zinn appeared sickened by McNamara’s monomaniacal and relentless drive to “win” the conflict. “One of the things we can learn from this,”Â Zinn said, “is that we have to stop revering these superficial qualities of brightness and smartness and bring up a generation that thinks in more moral terms, not in the terms of ‘will we win or will we lose?’”
Added Young: “McNamara’s legacy is that there is no legacy…everything in the clip [footage of McNamara played prior to the interviews] shown earlier still holds today [in]…Iraq…Afghanistan, you could have run it [the footage] today.” It soon became apparent that the real reason why Zinn and Young were upset was that McNamara had the audacity to wage war on the North Vietnamese—fellow communists to which the professorsÂ were (and still are) sympathetic.Â Indeed, Zinn’s associationÂ with communists worldwide is no secret.
Then came the obligatory (for this venue) swipe at America, its foreign policy and ideals as mouthed by this leftist duo. Said Zinn: ” Unfortunately, the present administration is still stuck in that kind of thinking, [such as] when I hear [Barack] Obama and the others at the White House talk about “winning” in Afghanistan without asking why we’re in Afghanistan.”
Leaving Obama’s “superficial qualities” aside, have Zinn and Young really forgotten why we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Were they vacationing in Cuba, Fidel Castro’s 1950′s Caribbean retro-theme parkÂ on 9/11? A close examination of the events of that black day would provide our two jackals withÂ more thanÂ 3,000 reasons as to why we’re in Iraq and Afghanistan.