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Rethinking ‘McNamara’s War’

Rethinking ‘McNamara’s War’ at the height of the Vietnam War

Rethinking ‘McNamara’s War’

On Nov. 29, 1967, President Lyndon Johnson announced that Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense, would leave his post to run the World Bank. “I do not know to this day whether I quit or was fired,” McNamara wrote decades later. “Maybe it was both.”

It’s actually quite clear: He was fired. But he wasn’t the only one who was confused. The conditions of McNamara’s departure from the Pentagon were murky at the time — and that murkiness speaks volumes about McNamara, Johnson and the domestic politics of the Vietnam War.

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Story: Fredrik Logevall, Photo: Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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