Robert McNamara

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Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara

Robert Strange McNamara (born June 9, 1916, in Oakland, California) is an American business executive and the 8th United States Secretary of Defense. McNamara served as Defense Secretary during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1968. After holding that position he served as President of the World Bank from 1968 until 1981. McNamara was responsible for the institution of systems analysis in public policy, which developed into the discipline known today as policy analysis.[1]

Early life and career

Robert Strange McNamara was born in Oakland, California, where his father was the sales manager of a wholesale shoe company; he got his middle name "Strange" from his mother's maiden name. He attended Piedmont High School in Piedmont, California where he was president of the Rigma Lions boys club in 1933. He became an Eagle Scout, and graduated in 1937 from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Arts in economics with minors in mathematics and philosophy, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his sophomore year, and earned a varsity letter in crew. He was a member of the UC Berkeley Golden Bear Battalion, Army ROTC. He then earned a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1939.

After earning his MBA, McNamara worked a year for the accounting firm Price Waterhouse in San Francisco. In August 1940 he returned to Harvard to teach in the Business School and became the highest paid and youngest Assistant Professor at the time. Following his involvement there in a program to teach the analytical approaches used in business to officers of the Army Air Forces (AAF), he entered the Army as a captain in early 1943, serving most of the war with the AAF's Office of Statistical Control. One major responsibility was the analysis of U.S. bombers' efficiency and effectiveness, especially the B-29 forces commanded by Major General Curtis LeMay in China and the Mariana Islands.[2] He left active duty in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and with a Legion of Merit.

From "Whiz Kid" to President at Ford Motor Company

In 1946 McNamara joined Ford Motor Company, due to the influence of a Colonel he worked under named Charles "Tex" Thornton. Thornton had read an article in Life magazine which reported that the company was in dire need of reform.

McNamara was one of ten former World War II officers known within Ford as the "Whiz Kids", who helped the company to stop its losses and administrative chaos by implementing modern planning, organization, and management control systems. Starting as manager of planning and financial analysis, he advanced rapidly through a series of top-level management positions.

In the mid-1950s, McNamara opposed Ford's planned Edsel automobile and worked to stop the program even before the first car rolled off the assembly line. He eventually succeeded in ending the program, which continues to be seen as one of the largest blunders in automotive history, in November 1959.

McNamara was also a force behind the wildly popular Ford Falcon sedan, which was introduced in the fall of 1959 as a 1960 model. He saw the Falcon, which was small, simple and inexpensive to produce, as a much better alternative to the large, expensive-to-build cars which proliferated in Detroit in the late Fifties. During his time as an executive, McNamara placed a high emphasis on safety standards, introducing in the Lifeguard package both the seat belt, and a dished steering wheel that reduced the chances of a driver being impaled by the steering column.[3]

McNamara also came close to terminating the Lincoln after the very large 1958 through 1960 models proved unpopular, forcing product planners to reinvent the car for 1961. His new, smaller Lincoln Continental, which debuted as a 1961 model in four-door sedan and four-door convertible form, was an instant hit and remains an icon among Sixties automobiles today.

On November 9, 1960, McNamara became the first president of Ford from outside the family of Henry Ford. He received substantial credit for Ford's expansion and success in the postwar period.

Secretary of Defense

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President John F. Kennedy and McNamara, 1962
United States Civil Defense booklet Fallout Protection commissioned by McNamara

President-elect John F. Kennedy first offered the post of secretary of defense to former secretary Robert A. Lovett. Lovett declined but recommended McNamara; Kennedy had him approached by Sargent Shriver regarding either the Treasury or the Defense cabinet post less than five weeks after McNamara had become president at Ford. At first McNamara turned down the Treasury position; but eventually, after discussions with his family, McNamara accepted Kennedy's invitation to serve as Secretary of Defense.

Although not especially knowledgeable about defense matters, McNamara immersed himself in the subject, learned quickly, and soon began to apply an "active role" management philosophy, in his own words "providing aggressive leadership questioning, suggesting alternatives, proposing objectives and stimulating progress." He rejected radical organizational changes, such as those proposed by a group Kennedy had appointed, headed by Sen. W. Stuart Symington, which would have abolished the military departments, replaced the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) with a single chief of staff, and established three functional unified commands. McNamara accepted the need for separate services but argued that "at the end we must have one defense policy, not three conflicting defense policies. And it is the job of the Secretary and his staff to make sure that this is the case."

Initially, the basic policies outlined by President Kennedy in a message to Congress on March 28, 1961 guided McNamara in the reorientation of the defense program. Kennedy rejected the concept of first-strike attack and emphasized the need for adequate strategic arms and defense to deter nuclear attack on the United States and its allies. U.S. arms, he maintained, must constantly be under civilian command and control, and the nation's defense posture had to be "designed to reduce the danger of irrational or unpremeditated general war." The primary mission of U.S. overseas forces, in cooperation with allies, was "to prevent the steady erosion of the Free World through limited wars." Kennedy and McNamara rejected massive retaliation for a posture of flexible response. The United States wanted choices in an emergency other than "inglorious retreat or unlimited retaliation", as the president put it. Out of a major review of the military challenges confronting the United States initiated by McNamara in 1961 came a decision to increase the nation's "limited warfare" capabilities. These moves were significant because McNamara was abandoning President Dwight D. Eisenhower's policy of massive retaliation in favor of a flexible response strategy that relied on increased U.S. capacity to conduct limited, non-nuclear warfare.

He also created the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Supply Agency.


The Kennedy administration placed particular emphasis on improving ability to counter communist "wars of national liberation", in which the enemy avoided head-on military confrontation and resorted to political subversion and guerrilla tactics. As McNamara said in his 1962 annual report, "The military tactics are those of the sniper, the ambush, and the raid. The political tactics are terror, extortion, and assassination." In practical terms, this meant training and equipping U.S. military personnel, as well as such allies as South Vietnam, for counterinsurgency operations.

Increased attention to conventional strength complemented these special forces preparations. In this instance he called up reserves and also proceeded to expand the regular armed forces. Whereas active duty strength had declined from approximately 3,555,000 to 2,483,000 between 1953 (the end of the Korean conflict) and 1961, it increased to nearly 2,808,000 by June 30, 1962. Then the forces leveled off at around 2,700,000 until the Vietnam military buildup began in 1965, reaching a peak of nearly 3,550,000 by mid-1968, just after McNamara left office.[4]

Other steps

McNamara took other steps to improve U.S. deterrence posture and military capabilities. He raised the proportion of Strategic Air Command (SAC) strategic bombers on 15-minute ground alert from 25 percent to 50 percent, thus lessening their vulnerability to missile attack. In December 1961 he established the Strike Command (STRICOM). Authorized to draw forces when needed from the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC), the Tactical Air Command, and the airlift units of the Military Air Transport Service and the military services, Strike Command had the mission "to respond swiftly and with whatever force necessary to threats against the peace in any part of the world, reinforcing unified commands or… carrying out separate contingency operations." McNamara also increased long-range airlift and sealift capabilities and funds for space research and development. After reviewing the separate and often uncoordinated service efforts in intelligence and communications, McNamara in 1961 consolidated these functions in the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Defense Communications Agency (the latter originally established by Secretary Gates in 1960), having both report to the secretary of defense through the JCS. The end effect was to remove the Intelligence function from the control of the military and to put it under the control of the Secretary of Defense. In the same year, he set up the Defense Supply Agency to work toward unified supply procurement, distribution, and inventory management under the control of the Secretary of Defense rather than the uniformed military.

McNamara's institution of systems analysis as a basis for making key decisions on force requirements, weapon systems, and other matters occasioned much debate. Two of its main practitioners during the McNamara era, Alain C. Enthoven and K. Wayne Smith, described the concept as follows: "First, the word 'systems' indicates that every decision should be considered in as broad a context as necessary… The word 'analysis' emphasizes the need to reduce a complex problem to its component parts for better understanding. Systems analysis takes a complex problem and sorts out the tangle of significant factors so that each can be studied by the method most appropriate to it." Enthoven and Smith said they used mainly civilians as systems analysts because they could apply independent points of view to force planning. McNamara's tendency to take military advice into account less than had previous secretaries and to override military opinions contributed to his unpopularity with service leaders. It was also generally thought that Systems Analysis, rather than being objective, was tailored by the civilians to support decisions that McNamara had already made.

The most notable example of systems analysis was the Planning, Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS) instituted by United States Department of Defense Comptroller Charles J. Hitch. McNamara directed Hitch to analyze defense requirements systematically and produce a long-term, program-oriented Defense budget. PPBS evolved to become the heart of the McNamara management program. According to Enthoven and Smith, the basic ideas of PPBS were: "the attempt to put defense program issues into a broader context and to search for explicit measures of national need and adequacy"; "consideration of military needs and costs together"; "explicit consideration of alternatives at the top decision level"; "the active use of an analytical staff at the top policymaking levels"; "a plan combining both forces and costs which projected into the future the foreseeable implications of current decisions"; and "open and explicit analysis, that is, each analysis should be made available to all interested parties, so that they can examine the calculations, data, and assumptions and retrace the steps leading to the conclusions." In practice, the data produced by the analysis was so large and so complex that while it was available to all interested parties, none of them could challenge the conclusions.

Among the management tools developed to implement PPBS were the Five Year Defense Plan (FYDP), the Draft Presidential Memorandum (DPM), the Readiness, Information and Control Tables, and the Development Concept Paper (DCP). The annual FYDP was a series of tables projecting forces for eight years and costs and manpower for five years in mission-oriented, rather than individual service, programs. By 1968, the FYDP covered ten military areas: strategic forces, general purpose forces, intelligence and communications, airlift and sealift, guard and reserve forces, research and development, central supply and maintenance, training and medical services, administration and related activities, and support of other nations.

The DPM, intended for the White House and usually prepared by the systems analysis office, was a method to study and analyze major defense issues. Sixteen DPMs appeared between 1961 and 1968 on such topics as strategic offensive and defensive forces, NATO strategy and force structure, military assistance, and tactical air forces. OSD sent the DPMs to the services and the JCS for comment; in making decisions, McNamara included in the DPM a statement of alternative approaches, force levels, and other factors. The DPM in its final form became a decision document. The DPM was hated by the JCS and uniformed military in that it cut their ability to communicate directly to the White House. The DPMs were also disliked because the systems analysis process was so heavyweight that it was impossible for any service to effectively challenge its conclusions.

The Development Concept Paper examined performance, schedule, cost estimates, and technical risks to provide a basis for determining whether to begin or continue a research and development program. But in practice, what it proved to be was a cost burden that became a barrier to entry for companies attempting to deal with the military. It aided the trend toward a few large non-competitive defense contractors serving the military. Rather than serving any useful purpose, the overhead necessary to generate information that was often in practice ignored resulted in increased costs throughout the system.

The Readiness, Information, and Control Tables provided data on specific projects, more detailed than in the FYDP, such as the tables for the Southeast Asia Deployment Plan, which recorded by month and quarter the schedule for deployment, consumption rates, and future projections of U.S. forces in Southeast Asia.


Toward the end of his term McNamara also opposed an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system proposed for installation in the United States, arguing that it would be too expensive (at least $40 billion) and ultimately ineffective because the Soviets would increase their offensive capability to offset the defensive advantage of the United States. Under pressure to proceed with the ABM program after it became clear that the Soviets had begun a similar project, McNamara finally agreed to a "thin" system, but he never believed it wise for the United States to move in that direction.

He always believed that the best defense strategy for the US was a parity of mutually assured destruction with the Soviet Union. An ABM system would be an ineffective weapon as compared to an increase in deployed nuclear missile capacity.

Cost reductions

McNamara's staff stressed systems analysis as an aid in decision making on weapon development and many other budget issues. The secretary believed that the United States could afford any amount needed for national security, but that "this ability does not excuse us from applying strict standards of effectiveness and efficiency to the way we spend our defense dollars…. You have to make a judgment on how much is enough." Acting on these principles, McNamara instituted a much-publicized cost reduction program, which, he reported, saved $14 billion in the five-year period beginning in 1961. Although he had to withstand a storm of criticism from senators and representatives from affected congressional districts, he closed many military bases and installations that he judged unnecessary to national security. He was equally determined about other cost-saving measures. But in the end, most of the cost savings were illusionary. Every base he closed resulted in a new construction project elsewhere to expand another base, relocation of forces projects and other related spending. The actual cost savings through consolidation of installations was often minimal or in some cases negative.

Due to the nuclear arms race, the Vietnam War buildup and other projects, total obligational authority increased greatly during the McNamara years. Fiscal year TOA increased from $48.4 billion in 1962 to $49.5 billion in 1965 (before the major Vietnam increases) to $74.9 billion in 1968, McNamara's last year in office. Not until FY 1984 did DoD's total obligational authority surpass that of FY 1968 in constant dollars.

Program consolidation

One major hallmark of McNamara's cost reductions was the consolidation of programs from different services, most visibly in aircraft acquisition, believing that the redundancy created waste and unnecessary spending. McNamara directed the Air Force to adopt the Navy's F-4 Phantom and A-7 combat aircraft, a consolidation that was quite successful. Conversely, his actions in mandating a premature across-the-board adoption of the untested M16 rifle proved catastrophic when the weapons began to fail in combat. McNamara tried to extend his success by merging development programs as well, resulting in the TFX dual service F-111 project. It was to combine Air Force requirements for an air superiority fighter and tactical bomber. His experience in the corporate world led him to believe that adopting a single type for different missions and service would save money. He insisted on the General Dynamics entry over the DOD's preference for Boeing because of commonality issues. Though heralded as a fighter that could do everything — fast supersonic dash, slow carrier and short airfield landings, tactical strike, and even close air support, in the end it involved too many compromises to succeed at any of them. The Navy version was drastically overweight and difficult to land, and eventually killed after a Grumman study showed it was incapable of matching the abilities of the newly revealed MiG-23 and MiG-25. The F-111 would eventually find its niche as a tactical bomber and electronic warfare aircraft with the Air Force.

However, many analysts believe that even though the TFX project itself was a failure, McNamara was ahead of his time as the trend in fighter design has continued toward consolidation — the F-16 and F/A-18 were developed as multi-role fighters, and most modern designs combine many of the roles the TFX would have had. In many ways, the JSF is seen as a rebirth of the TFX project, in that it purports to satisfy the needs of three American Air arms (as well as several foreign customers), fulfilling the roles of strike fighter, carrier-launched fighter, VSTOL, and CAS (and drawing many criticisms similar to those leveled against the TFX).

Vietnam War

McNamara at a cabinet meeting, 1967.

The Vietnam conflict came to claim most of McNamara's time and energy. The Truman and Eisenhower administrations had committed the United States to support the French and native anti-Communist forces in Vietnam in resisting efforts by the Communists in the North to control the country, though neither administration established actual combat forces in the conflict. The U.S. role, initially limited to financial support, military advice and covert intelligence gathering, expanded after 1954 when the French withdrew. During the Kennedy administration, the U.S. military advisory group in South Vietnam steadily increased, with McNamara's concurrence, from just a few hundred to about 17,000. U.S. involvement escalated after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in August 1964 when North Vietnamese naval vessels were reported as firing on two U.S. destroyers. McNamara was instrumental in selling this event to Congress and the public as a pretext for escalation.

President Johnson ordered retaliatory air strikes on North Vietnamese naval bases and Congress approved almost unanimously the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing the president "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the U.S. and to prevent further aggression."

In 1965, in response to stepped up military activity by the nationalist Viet Cong in South Vietnam and their North Vietnamese allies, the United States began bombing North Vietnam, deployed large military forces, and entered into combat in South Vietnam. McNamara's plan, supported by requests from top U.S. military commanders in Vietnam, led to the commitment of 485,000 troops by the end of 1967 and almost 535,000 by June 30, 1968. The casualty lists mounted as the number of troops and the intensity of fighting escalated. McNamara put in place a statistical strategy for victory in Vietnam. He concluded that there were a limited number of Viet Cong fighters in Vietnam and that a war of attrition would destroy them. He applied metrics (body counts) to determine how close to success his plan was.

McNamara with Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt at The Pentagon in July 1966.

Although he was a prime architect of the Vietnam War and repeatedly overruled the JCS on strategic matters, McNamara gradually became skeptical about whether the war could be won by deploying more troops to South Vietnam and intensifying the bombing of North Vietnam, a claim he would publish in a book years later. He also stated later that his support of the Vietnam war was given out of loyalty to administration policy. He traveled to Vietnam many times to study the situation firsthand and became increasingly reluctant to approve the large force increments requested by the military commanders.

During President John F. Kennedy's term, while McNamara was Secretary of Defense, America's troops in Vietnam increased from 500 to 16,000.

Some[who?] argue that McNamara knew about the potential deadly effects of Dow Chemical’s Agent Orange even as it was being used in Vietnam, and long before veterans came home to die or waste away from the herbicide's after effects. McNamara denies that he was aware of these dangers, and does not recall whether he was involved in the decision to use Agent Orange.

McNamara has said that the Domino Theory was the main reason for entering the Vietnam War. In the same interview he states, "Kennedy hadn't said before he died whether, faced with the loss of Vietnam, he would [completely] withdraw; but I believe today that had he faced that choice, he would have withdrawn."[1]

Social Equity

To commemorate President Harry S Truman's signing an order to end segregation in the military on July 26, 1948, McNamara issued Directive 5120.36 on July 26, 1963. This directive, Equal Opportunity in the Armed Forces, dealt directly with the issue of racial and gender discrimination in areas surrounding military communities. The directive declared, “Every military commander has the responsibility to oppose discriminatory practices affecting his men and their dependents and to foster equal opportunity for them, not only in areas under his immediate control, but also in nearby communities where they may live or gather in off-duty hours.” (para. II.C.)[5] Under the directive commanding officers were obligated to use the economic power of the military to influence local businesses in their treatment of minorities and women. With the approval of the Secretary of Defense, the commanding officer could declare areas off-limits to military personnel for discriminatory practices.[6]


A 1968 Cabinet meeting with Dean Rusk, President Johnson and McNamara

As McNamara grew more and more controversial after 1966 and his differences with the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff over Vietnam strategy became the subject of public speculation, frequent rumors surfaced that he would leave office. In early November 1967, McNamara's recommendation to freeze troop levels, stop bombing North Vietnam and for the US to hand over ground fighting to South Vietnam was rejected outright by President Lyndon B. Johnson. McNamara's recommendations amounted to his saying that the strategy of the United States in Vietnam which had been pursued to date had failed. Largely as a result, on November 29 of that year, McNamara announced his pending resignation and that he would become President of the World Bank. Other factors were the increasing intensity of the anti-war movement in the United States, the approaching presidential campaign in which Johnson was expected to seek re-election, and McNamara's support - over the opposition by the Joint Chiefs of Staff - of construction along the 17th parallel separating South and North Vietnam of a line of fortifications running from the coast of Vietnam into Laos. The President's announcement of McNamara's move to the World Bank stressed his stated interest in the job and that he deserved a change after seven years as Secretary of Defense, much longer than any of his predecessors (and longer than any of his successors, to date).

Others give a different view of McNamara's departure from office. For example, Stanley Karnow in his book "Vietnam: A History" strongly suggests that McNamara was asked to leave by the President. McNamara himself has expressed lack of certainty about the question.[7]

McNamara left office on February 29, 1968; for his efforts, the President awarded him both the Medal of Freedom and the Distinguished Service Medal.

Shortly after McNamara departed the Pentagon, he published "The Essence of Security", discussing various aspects of his tenure and position on basic national security issues. He did not speak out again on defense issues or Vietnam until after he left the World Bank.

World Bank

McNamara served as head of the World Bank from April 1968 to June 1981, when he turned 65.[8] In his thirteen years at the Bank, he introduced key changes, most notably from shifting the Bank's focus towards targeted poverty reduction. He negotiated, with the conflicting countries represented on the Board, a spectacular growth in funds to channel credits for development, in the form of health, food, and education projects. He also instituted new methods of evaluating the effectiveness of funded projects. One notable project started during McNamara's tenure was the effort to prevent river blindness.[8]

The World Bank currently has a scholarship program under his name.[9]

Post-World Bank activities

In 1982 McNamara joined several other former national security officials in urging that the United States pledge not to use nuclear weapons first in Europe in the event of hostilities; subsequently he proposed the elimination of nuclear weapons as an element of NATO's defense posture. His memoir, In Retrospect, published in 1995, presented an account and analysis of the Vietnam War from his point of view. Reviews were very mixed. The book was viewed as McNamara's attempt to apologize for his role in the war, but it also has been seen as shifting blame to other people and as an attempt to transform his image from an architect of the war into a virtual opponent.

McNamara has maintained his involvement in politics during recent years, delivering statements critical of the Bush administration's 2003 invasion of Iraq.[10] On January 5, 2006, McNamara and most living former Secretaries of Defense and Secretaries of State met briefly at the White House with President Bush to discuss the War in Iraq.

Promise and Power

In 1993, the respected Washington journalist Deborah Shapley published a 615-page biography of Robert McNamara, called Promise and Power: the Life and Times of Robert McNamara. The last pages of her book made clear that while Ms. Shapley deeply admired certain aspects of McNamara the man, and the public servant, she had seen first-hand his need to manipulate the truth, as well as to tell it.

Shapley concluded her book with these words: "For better and worse McNamara shaped much in today's world -- and imprisoned himself. A little-known nineteenth century writer, P.W. Bornum, offers a summation: `We make our decisions. And then our decisions turn around and make us.'"

The Fog of War

The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara is a 2003 Errol Morris documentary consisting mostly of interviews with Robert McNamara and archival footage. It won an Academy Award for Documentary Feature. The particular structure of this personal account is accomplished with the characteristics of an intimate dialogue. As McNamara explains, it is a process of examining the experiences of his long and controversial period as the United States Secretary of Defense, as well as other periods of his personal and public life.

Personal information

McNamara married Margaret Craig, his teenage sweetheart, in 1940. The couple had two daughters and a son. Margaret McNamara, a former teacher, used her position as a Cabinet spouse to launch a reading program for young children, Reading Is Fundamental, which became the largest literacy program in the country. She died of cancer in 1981.

In the Errol Morris documentary, McNamara reports that both he and his wife were stricken with polio shortly after the end of World War II. Although McNamara had a relatively short stay in the hospital, his wife's case was more serious and it was concern over meeting her medical bills that led to his decision to not return to Harvard but to enter private industry as a consultant at Ford Motor Company.

When working at Ford Motor Company, McNamara resided in Ann Arbor, Michigan rather than the usual auto executive domains of Grosse Pointe, Birmingham, and Bloomfield Hills. He and his wife sought to remain connected with a university town (the University of Michigan) after their hopes of returning to Harvard after the war were put on hold.

On September 29, 1972, a passenger on the ferry to Martha's Vineyard recognized McNamara on board and attempted to throw him into the ocean. McNamara declined to press charges. The man remained anonymous, but was interviewed years later by author Paul Hendrickson,[11] who quoted the attacker as saying, "I just wanted to confront (McNamara) on Vietnam."

After his wife's death, McNamara dated Katharine Graham, with whom he had been friends since the early 1960s. According to Graham's autobiography, she and McNamara had planned to be traveling in California with two other friends (a married couple) on her 70th birthday, in 1987, so she could avoid any birthday celebration in Washington. Graham died in 2001.

In September 2004, McNamara wed Diana Masieri Byfield, an Italian-born widow who had lived in the United States for more than 40 years. It was her second marriage.[12]

As of January 2009, Robert McNamara is one of only three members of John F. Kennedy's cabinet who are still alive. The others are former Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz and former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall.

McNamara's book In Retrospect was seen by many[who?] as ironic for the quantitative approach the author took to explaining the mistakes of the Vietnam War.

Other affiliations

  • McNamara is a life trustee on the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
  • McNamara is a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security.
  • McNamara is an honorary trustee for the Brookings Institution.

See also

  • General Dynamics F-111 TFX fighter
  • Operation Northwoods
  • List of United States political appointments that crossed party lines
  • Living former cabinet members

Books by Robert S. McNamara

  • (1968) The Essence of Security: Reflections in Office. New York, Harper & Row, 1968; London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1968. ISBN 0-340-10950-5.
  • (1973) One hundred countries, two billion people: the dimensions of development. New York, Praeger Publishers, 1973.
  • (1981) The McNamara years at the World Bank: major policy addresses of Robert S. McNamara, 1968-1981; with forewords by Helmut Schmidt and Léopold Senghor. Baltimore: Published for the World Bank by the Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981. ISBN 0-8018-2685-3.
  • (1985) The challenges for sub-Saharan Africa. Washington, DC: 1985.
  • (1986) Blundering into disaster: surviving the first century of the nuclear age. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986. ISBN 0-394-55850-2 (hardcover); ISBN 0-394-74987-1 (pbk.).
  • (1989) Out of the cold: new thinking for American foreign and defense policy in the 21st century. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989. ISBN 0-671-68983-5.
  • (1992) The changing nature of global security and its impact on South Asia. Washington, DC: Washington Council on Non-Proliferation, 1992.
  • (1995) In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. (with Brian VanDeMark.) New York: Times Books, 1995. ISBN 0-8129-2523-8; New York: Vintage Books, 1996. ISBN 0-679-76749-5.
  • (1999) Argument without end: in search of answers to the Vietnam tragedy. (Robert S. McNamara, James G. Blight, and Robert K. Brigham.) New York: Public Affairs, 1999. ISBN 1-891620-22-3 (hc).
  • (2001) Wilson’s ghost: reducing the risk of conflict, killing, and catastrophe in the 21st century. (Robert S. McNamara and James G. Blight.) New York: Public Affairs, 2001. ISBN 1-891620-89-4.


  1. Radin, Beryl (2000), Beyond Machiavelli : Policy Analysis Comes of Age. Georgetown University Press.
  2. Rich Frank: Downfall, Random House, 1999.
  3. / The Outsider]
  5. The Secretary of the Army's Senior Review Panel on Sexual Harassment p 127
  6. While the directive was passed in 1963, it was not until 1967 that the first non-military establishment was declared off-limits. In 1970 the requirement that commanding officers first obtain permission from the Secretary of Defense was lifted. Heather Antecol and Deborah Cobb-Clark, Racial and Ethnic Harassment in Local Communities. Oct 4, 2005. p 8
  7. In The Fog of War he recounts saying to a friend, "Even to this day, Kay, I don't know whether I quit or was fired?" (See transcript)
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Pages from World Bank History - Bank Pays Tribute to Robert McNamara". Archives. World Bank. March 21, 2003.,,contentMDK:20100171~pagePK:36726~piPK:36092~theSitePK:29506,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-05-26. 
  9. "Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program". Scholarships. World Bank. Retrieved on 2007-05-26. 
  10. Doug Saunders (2004-01-25). "'It's Just Wrong What We're Doing'". Globe and Mail. 
  11. Hendrickson, Paul: The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War. Vintage, 1997. ISBN 0-679-78117-X.
  12. Roxanne Roberts (2004-09-07). "Wedding Bells for Robert McNamara". The Washington Post. 

External links

Political offices
  1. REDIRECT Template:U.S. Cabinet Official box
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
George David Woods
President of the World Bank
Succeeded by
Alden W. Clausen

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NAME McNamara, Robert Strange
SHORT DESCRIPTION United States Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War
DATE OF BIRTH June 19, 1916
PLACE OF BIRTH San Francisco, California