Putnam Bundy (September 24, 1917 - October 6, 2000)
Knife: William Bundy dissects the Nixon years, politely"
By Walter Isaacson,Time Magazine, May 25, 1998
in the state department is trying to knife me in the back,
except for Bill Bundy," Henry Kissinger grumbled after
becoming Nixon's National Security Adviser. "He is
still enough of a gentleman to knife me in the chest."
in Boston, Massachusetts, William Bundy came from a family long
involved in politics. He was one of the chief architects of the
Vietnam War and coauthor of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. He served
with his younger brother McGeorge Bundy as foreign policy advisor
to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson (1961-69).
He was married to Mary Acheson, the daughter of Truman's Secretary
of State Dean Acheson.
his brother, McGeorge, started in academia, William went to work
with the CIA. At the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Army
Signal Corps and was eventually posted to Bletchley Park where
he commanded the contingent of American codebreakers cracking
German ciphers. After the war, he attended Harvard law school
and then joined the young intelligence service.
became the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs,
and thus played an important role in the Vietnam War. 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 strongly regret the decision,
one of the first administration members to do so. He spent much
of the rest of his career trying to understand how he and so many
others had made such a terrible mistake. He was somewhat to the
left of his brother politically, and was a spirited opponent of
Joseph McCarthy. He was also considered one of the administration's
more dovish members on Vietnam.
left politics on 1969 to teach at MIT, he also became editor of
Foreign Affairs. In 1972 he moved to Princeton University where
he remained for the rest of his life. His most noted work is Tangled
Web which explores the foreign policy of the Nixon administration.
After leaving government, Bundy became a harsh critic of Nixon
and Kissinger's handling of the Vietnam War.
Bundy brothers are the subject of a biography by Kai Bird, titled
The Color of Truth.
to Harvey Bundy, John Kerry's roommate at Harvard, it was uncle
William who finally convinced Kerry in 1966 to volunteer for service
in Vietnam. According to Harvey, his uncle said: "We need
you guys to serve. We need people of your caliber to serve if
we're going to do this thing."
Joseph McCarthy attacked Bundy in 1953 for having contributed
$400 to the legal defense fund for Alger Hiss.