McGeorge "Mac" Bundy (March 30, 1919–September 16, 1996) was United States National Security Advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson from 1961–1966, and was president of the Ford Foundation from 1966–1979. He is known primarily for his role in escalating the involvement of the United States in Vietnam during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.
Raised in Boston
, Bundy came from a prominent, wealthy family long involved in 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
and was a diplomat who helped implement the Marshall Plan
. Bundy attended the elite Dexter School
, Massachusetts, the Groton School
, and Yale University
one year behind his brother William Bundy
. At Yale, he was a member of the Skull and Bones secret society
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 such luminaries as Dwight Eisenhower
, Allen Dulles
, Richard Bissell
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.
Bundy was one of Kennedy's "wise men", a noted professor of government—although not a PhD—at Harvard University. He was later appointed Dean of the Faculty at Harvard, the youngest in the school's history. He moved into public life in 1961, becoming national security advisor 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.
He was a strong proponent for participating in Vietnam early in his tenure. He supported escalating the American involvement and the bombing of North Vietnam. He later came to regret the decision, one of the first administration members to do so, and spent much of his later career analyzing and criticizing Vietnam policies.
He left government in 1966 to take over as president of the Ford Foundation, a position he held until 1979. Some critics such as Kai Bird have suggested that the Ford Foundation may not have been independent of U.S. government foreign policy during that period (see The Color of Truth).
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.
His brother William Bundy was also a foreign policy figure during the Vietnam War.
- Bird, Kai. The Color of Truth: McGeorge and William Bundy, Brothers in Arms: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998. ISBN 0684809702.
- Bundy, McGeorge. Danger and Survival: Choices about the Bomb in the First Fifty Years. New York: Vintage Books, 1988. ISBN 0394522788.
- Bundy, McGeorge. "The Issue Before the Court: Who Gets Ahead in America?", The Atlantic Monthly 240, no. 5 (November 1977), pp. 41–54.
- Halberstam, David. "The Very Expensive Education of McGeorge Bundy". Harper's Magazine 239, no. 1430 (July 1969), pp. 21–41.
- Gardner, Lloyd. "Harry Hopkins with Hand Grenades? McGeorge Bundy in the Kennedy and Johnson Years", in Behind the Throne: Servants of Power to Imperial Presidents, 1898–1968, ed. by Thomas J. McCormick and Walter LaFeber. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993. pp. 204–229. ISBN 0299137406.
- Nünlist, Christian. Kennedys rechte Hand: McGeorge Bundys Einfluss als Nationaler Sicherheitsberater auf die amerikanische Aussenpolitik, 1961–63. Zurich: Center for Security Studies, 1999. ISBN 3905641615.
- Preston, Andrew. The War Council: McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. ISBN 0674021983.