Enough Blame to Go Round

H.R. McMaster has written a scathing indictment of America's civilian and military leadership during the early phases of the Vietnam war, and he speaks--to a military audience, at any rate--with unique moral authority.

Issue: Spring 1998

H.R. McMaster, Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam (New York: Free Press, 1997).

Four star generals do not normally consult the writings of junior field grade officers for advice about career decisions. But it was widely reported that when Air Force Chief of Staff General Ronald Fogleman decided to resign in 1997, he did so at least in part on the basis of a careful reading of H.R. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty. Fogleman, deeply dissatisfied with Secretary of Defense William Cohen's decision to deny promotion to Brigadier General Terry Schwalier, commander of the ill-fated American installation bombed by terrorists in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996, was weighing a decision to resign over a matter of principle. According to at least some news reports, he finally did so after reading this book.

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