McGeorge Bundy

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search

McGeorge "Mac" Bundy (March 30, 1919 – September 16, 1996) was United States National Security Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson from 1961 through 1966, and president of the Ford Foundation from 1966 through 1979. He is known primarily for his role in escalating the involvement of the United States in Vietnam during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

Early life

Raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Bundy came from a wealthy family long involved in Republican[1] politics. His mother, Katherine Lawrence Putnam, was the daughter of two Boston Brahmin families listed in the Social Register. His father, Harvey Hollister Bundy, was from Grand Rapids, Michigan and was a diplomat who helped implement the Marshall Plan.

Bundy attended the elite Dexter School in Brookline, Massachusetts and then the Groton School, where he placed first in his class and ran the student newspaper and debating society. He was then admitted to Yale University, one year behind his brother William, as the first student ever to receive perfect scores on all three admissions exams. At Yale, where he majored in mathematics, he served as secretary of the Yale Political Union and then chairman of its Liberal Party; he also wrote a column for the Yale Daily News. Like his father, he was inducted into the Skull and Bones secret society.[2]


Bundy joined the U.S. army in 1941, training as a signals intelligence officer. He became personal aide to Admiral Alan R. Kirk, Commander of Allied Amphibious Force, responsible for the reception of decoded German Ultra transmissions.[3]

For a year and a half 1945-47[4], Bundy co-wrote Henry L. Stimson's third-person autobiography with the just-retired United States Secretary of War.

In 1949, Bundy took a position at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York to study Marshall Plan aid to Europe. The study group included Dwight Eisenhower, Allen Dulles, Richard M. Bissell, Jr. and George Kennan. The group's deliberations were sensitive and highly secret, dealing as they did with the highly classified fact that there was a covert side to the Marshall Plan, where the CIA used certain funds to aid anti-communist groups in France and Italy.[5]

Bundy was one of Kennedy's "wise men," and noted professor of government at Harvard University, despite having only a bachelor's degree. In 1953, Bundy was appointed Dean of the Faculty at Harvard at the age of thirty-four, the youngest in the school's history. He moved into public life in 1961, becoming national security adviser in the Kennedy administration. He played a crucial role in all of the major foreign policy and defense decisions of the Kennedy and part of the Johnson administration. These included the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and, most controversially, the Vietnam War. From 1964 he was Chairman of the 303 Committee, responsible for coordinating government covert operations.[6]

Bundy was a strong proponent of the Vietnam War during his tenure. He supported escalating the American involvement and the bombing of North Vietnam.

He left government in 1966 to take over as president of the Ford Foundation, a position he held until 1979.

From 1979 to 1989, he was Professor of History at New York University. He was scholar-in-residence at the Carnegie Corporation from 1990–1996.


External links


  1. 'The Doves Were Right' Review by Richard C. Holbrooke of Goldstein, Gordon M., Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam, The New York Times Book Review, Nov. 28, 2008 (Nov. 30, 2008 on p. BR12 of NY ed.). Retrieved 7/7/09.
  2. Lessons in disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the path to war in Vietnam.  Henry Holt
  3. Kai Bird The Color of Truth.  . pp. 80
  4. Search of NYTimes for "mcgeorge bundy stimson" "When Bundy Says, 'The President Wants--'"; December 2, 1962 article in paid archive. Partial quote: "After V-J Day, Bundy spent a year and a half working on the Stimson book, ...." Retrieved 7/7/09.
  5. Covert CIA side to the Marshall Plan - see Kai Bird, The Color of Truth: McGeorge and William Bundy, Brothers in Arms: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998, (p.106)
  6. Foreign Relations, 1964–1968 Volume XII.  United States Government Printing Office