Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara died on Monday at age 93. McNamara was often referred to as the architect of the Vietnam War, a label he was uncomfortable with in his later years. McNamara was also responsible for a dramatic shift in U.S. nuclear policy, moving the United States from a policy of massive retaliation (in which the United States promised al all-out nuclear strike in response to Soviet aggression) to a policy of flexible response, in which conventional forces played a more important role.
McNamara left the post as Secretary of Defense to take up a position as President of the World Bank, where he oversaw a massive increase in the size of the organization. Under his tenure the Bank focused on rural poverty and energy programs.
McNamara was a controversial figure, a “hawk who became a dove,” as the FT describes him. If you’ve never seen Errol Morris’ The Fog of War, the film interview with Robert McNamara, its well worth it. The film easily ranks in the top ten films on international relations ever produced.