Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President on the Nomination of Secretary McNamara as President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

November 29, 1967

A FEW weeks ago, Secretary Fowler advised me that the World Bank had asked this Government to submit to the Bank's board of directors its recommendations for President of the Bank to succeed Mr. George Woods. He informed me that Mr. Woods had recommended Secretary Robert McNamara and that he and Mr. Livingston Merchant heartily concurred.

Some time ago, Mr. McNamara reported to me that Mr. Woods had talked with him about succeeding Mr. Woods as President of the Bank. Mr. McNamara said that he was interested in the World Bank post as an opportunity for continued service. He assured me of his willingness to remain as Secretary of Defense so long as the President considered it to be necessary, but he believed the service would benefit from the appointment of a fresh person.

Mr. McNamara is obviously highly qualified for the presidency of the World Bank by background, skills, and interest, and he is certainly entitled to appointment to any appropriate post in which he is interested and to relief from the extraordinary burdens that he has been carrying as soon as the national interest will permit. He deserves no less from his President and his country.

Accordingly, I told Secretary Fowler that I concurred in the submission of Secretary McNamara's name to the board of the World Bank, and I am informed that upon inquiry by representatives of the board, Secretary McNamara today has indicated his availability subject to the President's consent and agreement as to the time when he will assume his post.

I do not minimize the loss to the Government and to me personally that will result from Secretary McNamara's departure from the Cabinet and the post of Secretary of Defense.

He has been a great administrator of the Defense Establishment. He has been a wise, resourceful, and prudent originator and collaborator with respect to policies and programs of vital importance to this Nation and the world.

His service as a member of nay Cabinet and as a wise counselor in matters of domestic as well as foreign policy has been unexcelled.

The Nation as well as its President owe him a debt of gratitude and the highest honors which can be bestowed. I shall miss him greatly as a member of my Cabinet, as one of my closest colleagues, and as my valued friend. He has richly earned relief from the arduous labors and stress of the position which he has so well occupied; and I am glad that he will continue to render service to the Nation and the world in the important post to which he has been named.

But I could not justify asking Secretary McNamara indefinitely to continue to bear the enormous burdens of his position, nor could I in justice to him and to this Nation's obligations to the World Bank, refrain from recommending that he be selected as President of the Bank.

The course of our participation in the war in Vietnam is firmly set; major defense policies are clearly defined; and it will be possible for Secretary McNamara's successor to continue his able and effective administration of the Defense Establishment and our program without loss of momentum or effectiveness.

No precise date has yet been fixed for Secretary McNamara's departure, but I have asked him to remain at least long enough into next year to complete the work on the military program and financial budget for fiscal year 1969.

Note: In his statement the President referred to Henry H. Fowler, Secretary of the Treasury, and Livingston T. Merchant, U.S. Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).

Shortly before the release of the President's statement, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara issued a statement summarizing the events that led up to his nomination as President of the Bank. The text is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 3, P. 1637).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President on the Nomination of Secretary McNamara as President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives