Robert McNamara, architect of Vietnam War, dead at 93

McNamara, who served as defense secretary under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, died Monday

By Alex Koppelman

Published July 6, 2009 1:50PM (EDT)

Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara died Monday, the Washington Post reports. He was 93.

McNamara is best known for having served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and having been the chief architect of the Vietnam War during that time. Before President Kennedy tapped him for the post, he was the president of Ford Motor Company. Afterwards, he served as president of the World Bank.

But McNamara will be remembered for his leadership of the Defense Department during the escalation of the U.S. presence in Vietnam. It's something that dogged him for the last 40 years, and that he expressed remorse for in his later years. After he left office, it emerged that he'd had doubts early on about what the U.S. was doing in Vietnam, even as he led the American effort there.

For more on McNamara in Salon, see Charles Taylor's 2003 review of famed documentarian Errol Morris' film about the former defense secretary.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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