November 29

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Nov 29, 1967:

McNamara resigns as Secretary of Defense

Robert S. McNamara announces that he will resign as Secretary of Defense and will become president of the World Bank.

Formerly the president of Ford Motor Company, McNamara had served as Secretary of Defense under two presidents, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, from 1961 until 1968. He initially supported U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and encouraged President Johnson to escalate in 1964, but he later began privately to question U.S. policy and eventually advocated a negotiated settlement to the war. In the summer of 1967, he helped draft the San Antonio formula, a peace proposal offering to end the U.S. bombing of the north and asking North Vietnam to join in productive discussions. The North Vietnamese rejected the proposal in October.

Early in November, McNamara submitted a memorandum to Johnson recommending that the United States freeze its troop levels, cease the bombing of the north, and turn over responsibility for fighting the ground war to the South Vietnamese. Johnson rejected these recommendations outright. McNamara subsequently resigned; Johnson adviser Clark Clifford succeeded him.

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