- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2009

Robert S. McNamara, secretary of defense during the escalation of the Vietnam War who later recanted many of his military decisions and called the conflict a mistake, died Monday at his Washington home. He was 93.

Mr. McNamara, who had been in failing health, died at 5:30 a.m., his wife, Diana, told the Associated Press.

Mr. McNamara, who was president of the Ford Motor Co. and a Republican when President Kennedy recruited him to run the Pentagon in 1961, was known as a cerebral policy-maker with a penchant for using statistical analysis in making military decisions.

As lead architect of the war until 1968, Mr. McNamara was criticized loudly for ramping up the military campaign in Vietnam. Critics derisively called the conflict “McNamara’s War,” the only American war to end in abject withdrawal.

He often disagreed with generals on war strategy and tactics yet routinely acquiesced to their desires. When he left the Pentagon during the final year of President Johnson’s presidency, he was disillusioned with the war and doubted its success.

Mr. McNamara later served as president of the World Bank for 12 years. He tripled its loans to developing countries and changed its emphasis from grandiose industrial projects to rural development.

After retiring in 1981, he championed the causes of nuclear disarmament and aid by the richest nations for the world’s poorest.

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