Robert McNamara (1916- ) is an American business executive, statesman, and diplomat. In 1960, he left his seat as president of the Ford Motor Company to accept an invitation from President Kennedy to become U.S. Secretary of Defense. A key adviser to the president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, McNamara is most famous (or infamous) today as the prime architect of the disastrous American intervention in the Vietnam War.
During Kennedy's administration, McNamara supported the President's decision to increase American involvement in Vietnam. Under President Johnson, however, he began to suspect that American aims in the growing war were futile and urged the President and his advisors to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict. Under pressure to win the war before withdrawal, Johnson asked McNamara to step down in 1967. McNamara later published a number of books, including his memoir entitled In Retrospect, in which he reflects on American foreign policy mistakes in Vietnam.