Tag Archives: Robert McNamara

On the Death of Robert McNamara and the Continuing Survivial of Dick Cheney

POETRY AND POLITICS SERIES

Robert McNamara , the former secretary of defense who was–despite his half-baked, late-in-life regrets–one of the primary architects and apologists for the Vietnam War, died last week.

Dick Cheney has played a similar role in the Iraq War, and seems unlikely to have any attacks of hindsight or conscience in his golden years. At the end of June, Cheney offered a damning benediction on the beginning of troop withdrawals from Iraq:  

“I hope the Iraqis can deal with it,” Mr. Cheney said. “At some point they have to stand on their own, but I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point.”

Here’s a poem written by British poet G.K. Chesterton in 1922, after the senseless slaughter of World War I had decimated an entire generation. With the substitution of “America” for “England” (and “men and women” for “men”), it can be fittingly rededicated to McNamara, and especially to Cheney, whose dicky heart is still beating.  

Elegy in a Country Church-Yard

The men that worked for England
They have their graves at home:
And bees and birds of England
About the cross can roam.

But they that fought for England,
Following a falling star,
Alas, alas for England
They have their graves afar.

And they that ruled in England,
In stately conclave met,
Alas, alas for England
They have no graves as yet.

 

Posted by: Jean Casella