Robert McNamara : biography
McNamara wrote of his close personal friendship with Jackie Kennedy, and how she demanded that he stop the killing in Vietnam.McNamara, In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, 1995, p. 257-258. As McNamara grew more and more controversial after 1966 and his differences with the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff over Vietnam strategy became the subject of public speculation, frequent rumors surfaced that he would leave office. In an early November 1967 memorandum to Johnson, McNamara’s recommendation to freeze troop levels, stop bombing North Vietnam and for the U.S. to hand over ground fighting to South Vietnam was rejected outright by the President. McNamara’s recommendations amounted to his saying that the strategy of the United States in Vietnam which had been pursued to date had failed. McNamara later stated he "never heard back" from Johnson regarding the memo. Largely as a result, on November 29 of that year, McNamara announced his pending resignation and that he would become President of the World Bank. Other factors were the increasing intensity of the anti-war movement in the U.S., the approaching presidential campaign in which Johnson was expected to seek re-election, and McNamara’s support — over the objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — of construction along the 17th parallel separating South and North Vietnam of a line of fortifications running from the coast of Vietnam into Laos. The President’s announcement of McNamara’s move to the World Bank stressed his stated interest in the job and that he deserved a change after seven years as Secretary of Defense, longer than any of his predecessors or successors.
Others give a different view of McNamara’s departure from office. For example, Stanley Karnow in his book "Vietnam: A History" strongly suggests that McNamara was asked to leave by the President. McNamara himself expressed uncertainty about the question.In The Fog of War he recounts saying to a friend, "Even to this day, Kay, I don’t know whether I quit or was fired?" (See )
McNamara left office on February 29, 1968; for his efforts, the President awarded him both the Medal of Freedom and the Distinguished Service Medal.
Shortly after McNamara departed the Pentagon, he published "The Essence of Security", discussing various aspects of his tenure and position on basic national security issues. He did not speak out again on defense issues or Vietnam until after he left the World Bank.