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Truman Vs Macarthur Essay Outline

General Douglas MacArthur
During World War II there were many people whose efforts made a difference during the war. Some of these efforts had a great impact on the war, even to the point in changing the course of the war. One of these figures that had a significant impact on the global war was General Douglas MacArthur. Considered one of the greatest generals of World War II, he served in the pacific theater of war. His contributions to the war effort greatly aided the allies defeat the Empire of Japan.
Pre-World War II
Douglas MacArthur was born on January 26, 1880 in Little Rock Arkansas. He was the third child to his parents Arthur MacArthur Jr and Mary Hardy MacArthur. According to the Macarthur Memorial, his father Arthur was an Army Captain at the time; he had served during the American Civil War for the Union and was highly decorated. His mother Mary was from Virginia; she came from a cotton merchant family. Her brothers also served during the Civil War but they had fought for the Confederacy.(n.d.) Charles Rivers Editors author of American Legends: The Life of General Douglas MacArthur states that growing up, both his parents had a great influence on him; his father’s career in the Army influenced Douglas both on the type of commander he would become and the choices he would make later in life when dealing with politicians that would be in charge of him. (2013) Sara Wilson writer of The Paradoxical General MacArthur points out a quote his father would constantly tell his children, ‘We were to do what was right no matter what the personal sacrifice might be. Our country always came first.’ His mother instilled a sense of greatness in him by letting him know that he would be ‘destined for greatness and that he should strive to be a great man like his father and Robert E. Lee. (1999)
While at West Point from 1899 to 1903, MacArthur excelled in his studies, graduating top of his class and having an overall academic score second only to General Lee. From there he started his career in the Army as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers being assigned to the Philippines.(MacArthur Memorial, n.d.) In 1905, MacArthur’s father who was a Major General, had Douglas assigned to him as part of his staff to go on a tour of Asia with him. This tour would give MacArthur insight to the region and saw the people there were just as resourceful as anyone else in the world. Despite the racist views the United States had at the time, he believed ‘America’s future lay with the Pacific and not with old Europe.'(Editors, 2013) After this influential tour of Asia, MacArthur went back to the United States and served at various posts from being an aide to President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington D.C. to Vera Cruz, Mexico on a mission to gather intelligence. (MacArthur Memorial, n.d.) MacArthur later went back to Washington where he was eventually appointed head of the Army’s Bureau of Information; his time there taught MacArthur how publicity and public opinion were powerful tools. (Editors, 2013)
At the beginning of World War I, MacArthur had achieved the rank of Major and helped in the formation of the Army’s 42nd Division called the Rainbow Division. (MacArthur Memorial, n.d.) By the time the United States entered World War I, MacArthur was promoted to Colonel and was made Chief of Staff of the 42nd Division. By November of 1917 the 42nd went to France to join the war effort. Eventually MacArthur led the Rainbow Division through some of the toughest battles the US was a part of during the war, earning himself and his men many medals and honors. During battles, MacArthur led his troops from the front, sometimes being the first man charging out of the trenches into no man’s land; this earned him two purple hearts for injuries due to mustard gas. (Editors, 2013) At the end of the war, MacArthur was promoted to Brigadier General and returned to the US to take the post as the superintendent of West Point Military Academy. In 1922 he married his first wife Louise Cromwell, who he later divorced seven years later. Also in the twenties, MacArthur returned to the Philippines to serve two tours and was tasked to lead the U.S. Delegation in Amsterdam for the 1928 Olympics. (MacArthur Memorial, n.d.) President Hoover, in 1930, appointed MacArthur as the Army’s Chief of Staff and again served in the same position under President Franklin Roosevelt. He had many arguments with President Roosevelt at the time because the president was making cuts to Army funding due to the depression. (Editors, 2013) The position of Chief of Staff was one that was kept from his father years earlier. William Taft, who was the Secretary of War at the time, was at odds with Arthur MacArthur at various times through his career. Douglas MacArthur would always remember that it was a politician that kept his father from holding the highest posting the Army. (Wilson, 1999)
His time as Chief of Staff of the Army was marked with some controversy. Under Hoover, he was tasked to remove the ‘Bonus Army,’ a group made up of thousands of WWI unemployed veterans who were protesting for the government to give them bonuses that were promised during the war. MacArthur, with armed troops, forced the group out of Washington using heavy handed force with the men and burning their encampments. Later MacArthur sued a journalist for slander after the reporter Drew Pearson published a report stating that MacArthur was disrespectful to those appointed over him and a tyrant to those under him. When the reporter informed MacArthur that he had attained letters between him and a famous female star he had liaisons with, MacArthur backed down and paid Pearson $15,000 to get the letters. He wanted to keep the story from becoming public, mainly so that his mother wouldn’t hear about it. (Wilson, 1999)
In 1935 MacArthur stepped down as Chief of Staff and was asked by his longtime friend Manuel Quezon, President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, to join him as Field Marshal of the Philippines. At this position, he would be tasked to prepare the Philippine military for independence from the United States in 1946 and later for Japanese attack when it became apparent the Japanese were making aggressive moves in the area. MacArthur himself believed because of his years of experience in the Philippines, he best understood Filipino people and Asians in general. On his trip to the Philippines, he brought over his most trusted staff and advisors, including his mother who followed him wherever possible. During the trip, he met Jean Marie Fairclough, a wealthy woman from Tennessee. The two fell in love and would marry in April 1937. The two had their only child, a son named Arthur IV, a year later on February 1938. (Editors, 2013)
World War II
In July of 1941, the Japanese continued their war against China where they had made advancements and began attacking ports in Vietnam. This caused President Roosevelt to order MacArthur to begin preparing defenses on the Philippines to guard against Japanese aggression. On December 7, 1941 Japan attacked the United States forcing the US into World War II. Later that day, Japan began attacking military targets in Manila, the capitol of the Philippines. Due to the decisive advantage they had against the defenders, the Admiral of the US Naval ships stationed there ordered his ships to safety leaving behind the MacArthur and his defenders; this incident angered MacArthur and accused the Admiral of cowardice. (Editors, 2013)
With the Japanese having air superiority and losing his naval support, MacArthur organized his troops to retreat to the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor. There they would continue to slow the Japanese forces from conquering the Philippines. The Japanese suffered heavy losses trying to destroy MacArthur’s forces that were under daily air attacks for months. At this time MacArthur primarily stayed in his command outpost in Corregidor rarely visiting his forces on Bataan this earned him the name ‘Dugout Doug’ with the troops. During his stand against the Japanese, MacArthur was convinced by Quezon to try to convince Roosevelt to give the Philippines independence so the country could declare itself neutral, hoping to avoid being totally conquered by the Japanese. President Roosevelt completely disagreed with the idea causing MacArthur’s hatred for politicians and politics to grow even more. Even though General Marshall said MacArthur’s forces would be relieved or supported, no help ever came. (Editors, 2013) Meanwhile in Washington, Brigadier General Eisenhower pushed the issue about MacArthur and his forces to his superiors, convincing President Roosevelt and General Marshall to realize hesitantly that since they were not going to support MacArthur’s forces, they would have to rescue the General. A few reasons went into why they had to rescue the General. First, it would be a blow to US security if the Japanese captured a former Chief of Staff. Second, General MacArthur had built himself up in the public eye; during his stand against the Japanese, MacArthur had basically used a spin machine to conduct self-promotion by issuing bulletins to the press, making greatly enhanced claims of his efforts during the siege. Finally, on March 12, 1942, MacArthur with his family boarded torpedo boats in the middle of the night to meet up with a B-17 that would fly over enemy territory to get the General to Australia. (Editors, 2013) When leaving, the General told his men and Filipino people ‘I shall return.’ That quote went on to become a rally cry to Americans back home that saw MacArthur as a great hero. MacArthur had a chance to evacuate his family earlier when President Quezon offered to take MacArthur’s wife and child on his submarine when he escaped the Japanese; MacArthur, however, told him that ‘My wife married a soldier. My son is the son of a soldier.’ For his stand against the Japanese, General MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest honor that can be given to any military personnel. (Wilson, 1999)
When MacArthur arrived in Australia, he was appointed as the Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area. His forces were made up of strong air force, small naval ships and a very capable Australian infantry. (Editors, 2013) With this force he began his campaign against the Japanese, using what would be called ‘Island Hopping.’ This meant he would bypass better defended areas and attack weaker Japanese targets. Despite some setbacks due to logistical and intelligence failures, MacArthur continued to press the attack against the Japanese. By October 20, 1944 he returned to the Philippines, keeping his word. After making his triumphant return to the Philippines, he was promoted to the rank of a Five Star General, only one of six men to have ever held the position. (MacArthur Memorial, n.d.) Even though he returned as promised, the fighting had just begun. The Japanese decided to make their stand there since it was their last source of resources, such as oil. Finally on February 25, 1945, MacArthur and his forces defeated retook the capitol of Manila. By April of 1945, MacArthur was given command of all Army assets and began to draw up plans for the final assault on Japan, which many believed would have been very costly to both sides. (Editors, 2013) To prevent further loss of life to allied troops, President Truman made the decision to drop the two atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Shortly thereafter, Japan surrendered and General MacArthur was selected to accept the Japanese surrender. At the ceremony, MacArthur stated ‘It is my earnest hope, and indeed the hope of all mankind, that from this solemn occasion, a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past, a world founded upon faith and understanding.’ (Wilson, 1999)
Post World War II
After the war MacArthur would go on to govern over and rebuild Japan, and command the United Nation forces in the Korean War in 1950. Faced with the possibility of a third World War, President Truman called for a cease fire. MacArthur, however, did not agree and wanted to attack China. He even tried to convince Congress he was right. Due to this insubordinate action by MacArthur, President Truman removed the General from duty, effectively firing him. (Wilson, 1999) After a hero’s welcome in New York in 1952, MacArthur would go on to chair the board of Remington Rand and would provide advice to Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. Douglas MacArthur died on April 5, 1964 in Washington D.C. and was buried with full honors in Norfolk, VA on April 11, 1964 at the MacArthur Memorial. (MacArthur Memorial, n.d.)
MacArthur was a great man but he was still human. Even when under attack, he always had an ulterior motive to gain position to do what he thought he must for the United States. He could also be seen as selfish by having men open to attack while he kept undercover, and by keeping his family with him rather than sending them to safety. Despite his faults, General Douglas MacArthur was clearly an American hero whose experience, drive and determination helped see the American Army thorough some of its darkest times and achieve victory for the United States in World War II.

Charles Rivers Editors. (2013). American Legends: The Life of General Douglas MacArthur. Charles River Editors
MacArthur Memorial. (n.d.). General Douglas MacArthur: MacArthur Memorial. Retrieved February 21, 2015, from http://www.macarthurmemorial.org/DocumentCenter/View/410
Wilson, S. E. (1999). The Paradoxical General MacArthur. Humanities, 20(3), 12.

On 11 April 1951, U.S. PresidentHarry S. Truman relieved General of the ArmyDouglas MacArthur of his commands after MacArthur made public statements which contradicted the administration's policies. MacArthur was a popular hero of World War II who was then the commander of United Nations forces fighting in the Korean War, and his relief remains a controversial topic in the field of civil-military relations.

MacArthur led the Allied forces in the Southwest Pacific during World War II, and after the war was in charge of the occupation of Japan. When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, starting the Korean War, he was designated commander of the United Nations forces defending South Korea. He conceived and executed the amphibious assault at Inchon on 15 September 1950, for which he was hailed as a military genius. However, when he followed up his victory with a full-scale invasion of North Korea on Truman's orders, China intervened in the war and inflicted a series of defeats, compelling him to withdraw from North Korea. By April 1951, the military situation had stabilized, but MacArthur's public statements became increasingly irritating to Truman, and he relieved MacArthur of his commands. The Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a joint inquiry into the military situation and the circumstances surrounding MacArthur's relief, and concluded that "the removal of General MacArthur was within the constitutional powers of the President but the circumstances were a shock to national pride."

An apolitical military was an American tradition, but one that was difficult to uphold in an era when American forces were employed overseas in large numbers. The principle of civilian control of the military was also ingrained, but the rising complexity of military technology led to the creation of a professional military. This made civilian control increasingly problematic when coupled with the constitutional division of powers between the President as commander-in-chief, and the Congress with its power to raise armies, maintain a navy, and wage wars. In relieving MacArthur for failing to "respect the authority of the President" by privately communicating with Congress, Truman upheld the President's role as pre-eminent.


Harry Truman[edit]

Main article: Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman became President of the United States on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, and won an unexpected victory in the 1948 presidential election. He was the only president who served after 1897 without a college degree. Although not highly educated, Truman was well read. When his high school friends went off to the state university in 1901, he enrolled in a local business school, but only lasted a semester. He later took night courses at the Kansas City Law School, but dropped out. Truman attempted to gain admission to the United States Military Academy at West Point, but was rejected for his poor eyesight. He was proud of his military service in the artillery during World War I, and held a reserve commission as a colonel.

Truman distrusted regular soldiers and selected two National Guardsmen, Harry H. Vaughan and Louis H. Renfrow, as his military aides. Truman once remarked that he did not understand how the US Army could "produce men such as Robert E. Lee, John J. Pershing, Eisenhower and Bradley and at the same time produce Custers, Pattons and MacArthur."

During the 1948 Revolt of the Admirals, a number of naval officers publicly disagreed with the administration's policy over cuts to naval aviation and amphibious warfare capability, resulting in the relief of the Chief of Naval Operations, AdmiralLouis Denfeld, and his replacement by Admiral Forrest Sherman. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee investigation into the affair in October 1949, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Omar Bradley, doubted that there would ever be another large scale amphibious operation.

Douglas MacArthur[edit]

Main article: Douglas MacArthur

In stature and seniority, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was the Army's foremost general. The son of Lieutenant GeneralArthur MacArthur, Jr., a recipient of the Medal of Honor for action during the American Civil War, he had graduated at the top of his West Point class of 1903, but never attended an advanced service school except for the engineer course in 1908. He had a distinguished combat record in World War I, and had served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1930 to 1935, working closely with Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt, despite occasional clashes over the military budget. He would later compare Roosevelt's "extraordinary self-control" with Truman's "violent temper and paroxysms of ungovernable rage".

Apart from his World War I-era service in Mexico and Europe, his overseas postings had been in Asia and the Pacific. During World War II, he had become a national hero and had been awarded the Medal of Honor for the unsuccessful defense of the Philippines in the Battle of Bataan. He had commanded the Allied armies in the New Guinea Campaign and Philippines Campaign, fulfilling his famous promise to return to the Philippines. In 1944 and 1948, he had been considered a possible Republican candidate for president. After the war, as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers (SCAP), he had overseen the Occupation of Japan and played an important part in the post-war political and social transformation of that country.

By 1950, the occupation of Japan was winding down, but MacArthur remained in the country as Commander-in-Chief Far East (CINCFE), a post to which he had been appointed by Truman in 1945. MacArthur had to deal with deep cuts in the defense budget that saw his troop numbers decline from 300,000 in 1947 to 142,000 in 1948. Despite his protests, further reductions had followed and, by June 1950, there were only 108,000 troops in his Far East Command. Cuts in funds and personnel produced shortages of serviceable equipment. Of the Far East Command's 18,000 jeeps, 10,000 were unserviceable; of its 113,870 2½-ton 6x6 trucks, only 4,441 were serviceable. On the positive side, the Far East Command initiated a program of reclaiming and refurbishing war materiel from abandoned stocks throughout the Pacific. This had not only recovered a great deal of valuable stores and equipment, it had also generated a useful repair and rebuilding industry in Japan. Meanwhile, the shift away from occupation duties had permitted a greater focus on training for combat.

Events leading up to the relief[edit]

Korean War[edit]

North Korea invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950, starting the Korean War. In response to an urgent request from the Korean Military Advisory Group for more ammunition, MacArthur, on his own initiative, ordered the transport ship MSTS Sgt. George D Keathley, then in harbor in Yokohama, to be loaded with ammunition and to sail for Pusan. President Truman met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other advisors that day at Blair House and approved the actions already taken by MacArthur and Secretary of StateDean Acheson. At another meeting at Blair House held on the evening of 26 June, amid reports of a rapidly deteriorating situation in South Korea, Truman approved the use of air and naval forces against military targets south of the 38th parallel north.

Subsequently, on 27 June, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 83, which recommended that "members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area."[21] The South Korean capital of Seoul fell on 28 June. The next day, Truman authorized air and naval operations north of the 38th parallel, which MacArthur had already ordered. However it was not until 30 June, following a sobering report on the military situation from MacArthur, that Truman finally authorized the use of ground forces.

On 8 July, on the advice on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Truman appointed MacArthur as commander of the United Nations Command in South Korea (CINCUNC). He remained CINCFE and SCAP. MacArthur was forced to commit his forces in Japan to what he later described as a "desperate rearguard action." In July Truman sent the Chief of Staff of the Army, General J. Lawton Collins, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, to report on the situation. They met with MacArthur and his chief of staff, Major General Edward Almond, in Tokyo on 13 July. MacArthur impressed on them the danger of underestimating the North Koreans, whom he characterized as "well-equipped, well-led, and battle-trained, and which have at times out-numbered our troops by as much as twenty to one." He proposed to first halt the North Korean advance and then counterattack, enveloping the North Koreans with an amphibious operation, but the timing was dependent on the arrival of reinforcements from the United States.

Bradley raised the possibility of using nuclear weapons in Korea at a Joint Chiefs of Staff meeting on 9 July 1950 at Eisenhower's instigation, but there was no support for the idea. The Army staff sent a cable to Collins in Tokyo suggesting that he seek out MacArthur's opinion. In a teleconference on 13 July, Major GeneralCharles L. Bolte proposed sending nuclear weapons. MacArthur had already turned down Air Force proposals to fire bomb North Korean cities, and suggested that atomic bombs could be used to isolate North Korea by taking out bridges and tunnels. The Army staff considered this impractical. However, on 28 July, the Joint Chiefs decided to send ten nuclear-capable B-29 bombers of the 9th Bombardment Wing to Guam as a deterrent to Chinese action against Taiwan. Truman publicly denied that he was considering the use of nuclear weapons in Korea, but authorised the transfer to Guam of atomic bombs without their fissile cores. The deployment did not go well; one of the bombers crashed on takeoff from Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base in California on 5 August, killing the mission commander, Brigadier GeneralRobert F. Travis, and 18 others.[35] The remaining nine bombers remained in Guam until 13 September, when they returned to the United States. The bomb assemblies stayed behind.

At a press conference on 13 July, Truman was asked if United States forces would cross the 38th parallel into North Korea, and he replied that he would "make that decision when it becomes necessary to do it." Some of his advisors, most notably the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, Dean Rusk, and the Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs, John M. Allison, argued that Security Council Resolution 83 provided a legal basis for the invasion of North Korea. Others, notably George F. Kennan and Paul Nitze, disagreed. In addition to the legality, the administration also had to consider the danger of intervention by the Soviet Union or the People's Republic of China if United Nations forces approached their borders.

Battle of Inchon[edit]

MacArthur's early ambitions for an amphibious operation against North Korea had to be shelved due to the deteriorating situation in the south, which compelled him to commit the formation earmarked for the assault, the 1st Cavalry Division, to the defence of the Pusan Perimeter, to which the Eighth Army retreated in August. MacArthur then resumed his planning for an amphibious operation, which he tentatively scheduled for 15 September 1950. Navy and Marine Corps officers like Rear AdmiralJames H. Doyle, the commander of Amphibious Group One, and Major GeneralOliver P. Smith, the commander of the 1st Marine Division, were appalled by the proposed landing beaches at Inchon, which featured huge tides, broad mudflats, narrow and treacherous channels, and high seawalls. Omar Bradley called it "the worst possible place ever selected for an amphibious landing." While the Inchon-Seoul area was a key communications center, the risks of the landing were daunting. Collins and Sherman flew to Tokyo to be briefed on the plans by MacArthur, who declared: "We shall land at Inchon, and I shall crush them."

MacArthur was invited to speak at the 51st National Encampment of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Chicago on 26 August 1950. He declined the invitation, but instead sent a statement that could be read out aloud, in which he contradicted Truman's policy towards the island of Formosa,[45] saying: "Nothing could be more fallacious than the threadbare argument by those who advocate appeasement and defeatism in the Pacific that if we defend Formosa we alienate continental Asia."[46] Truman was infuriated by the word "appeasement," and discussed the possibility of relieving MacArthur with Secretary of DefenseLouis A. Johnson. Johnson responded that MacArthur was "one of the greatest, if not the greatest generals of our generation." Truman told Johnson to send MacArthur an order withdrawing his statement, which he did; but it had already been read into Congressional Record. As it turned out, it was not MacArthur who was relieved, but Johnson. Truman had become irritated with Johnson's conflict with Secretary of State Acheson, and although he had said that Johnson would remain his Secretary of Defense for "as long as I am President," he asked Johnson for his resignation. Publicly, Johnson received much of the blame for the defense cuts that had led to the lack of preparedness and consequent early defeats in Korea.[50] He was replaced by General of the Army George Marshall.

MacArthur held that his military objective was the destruction of the North Korean Army. That being the case, operations would be necessary north of the 38th parallel, although his Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Major General Charles A. Willoughby, warned on 31 August that 37 Chinese divisions were grouping on the border between China and North Korea. The Joint Chiefs agreed with MacArthur on this issue. A National Security Council paper endorsed the legality of action north of the 38th parallel. The paper recommended that only South Korean troops be employed in the border regions with China and Russia. Should the Soviet Union intervene, MacArthur was to immediately retreat to the 38th parallel; but in the case of Chinese intervention, he was to keep fighting "as long as action by UN military forces offers a reasonable chance of successful resistance." Truman endorsed the report on 11 September, but MacArthur remained in the dark because of the changeover of Secretaries of Defense, and was not informed until 22 September. When Truman was asked at a press conference on 21 September whether he had concluded to conduct operations in North Korea, he replied that he had not.

In the meantime, MacArthur's amphibious assault at Inchon went ahead on 15 September. "The success of Inchon was so great and the subsequent prestige of General MacArthur was so overpowering," Collins later recalled, "that the Chiefs hesitated thereafter to question later plans and decisions of the general, which should have been challenged." In response to a rumor that the Eighth Army planned to halt at the 38th parallel and await United Nations authorization to cross, Marshall sent a message to MacArthur informing him that: "We want you to feel unhampered tactically and strategically to proceed north of 38th parallel. Announcement above referred to may precipitate embarrassment in the UN where evident desire is not to be confronted with necessity of a vote on passage, rather to find you have found it militarily necessary to do so."[56] A few days later, MacArthur was instructed not to issue an announcement that his forces had crossed the 38th parallel. On 7 October a United Nations General Assembly Resolution was passed that could be broadly construed as permitting the invasion of North Korea.

Wake Island Conference[edit]

Main article: Wake Island Conference

With the 1950 mid-term elections drawing near, and Truman abstaining from overt campaigning while the troops were fighting in Korea, members of Truman's staff, most notably George Elsey, came up with another way to garner votes for the Democratic Party. In July 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt had traveled to Hawaii to meet with MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz. At this meeting, Roosevelt made the decision to attack the Philippines in the final year of the Pacific war. It was a political triumph in an election year, refuting Republican claims that Roosevelt fixated on Europe at the expense of the Pacific.

Truman emulated this by flying to the Pacific to meet MacArthur. Initially, Truman was unenthusiastic about the idea, as he disliked publicity stunts, but in October 1950, in the wake of the victories at Pusan and Inchon, MacArthur's star was burning bright. By meeting with him, Truman could emphasize his own part in the victories, as Commander-in-Chief. A message was sent to MacArthur suggesting a meeting on Hawaii or Wake Island.[65] MacArthur replied that he "would be delighted to meet the President on the morning of the 15th at Wake Island." When MacArthur discovered that the President would be bringing the news media with him, MacArthur asked if he could bring correspondents from Tokyo. His request was denied.

Truman arrived at Wake Island on 15 October, where he was greeted on the tarmac by MacArthur, who had arrived the day before. MacArthur shook hands with the President rather than salute, and declined an offer to stay for lunch with the President which Bradley considered "insulting". This did not bother Truman; what did annoy the President, a former haberdasher, was MacArthur's "greasy ham and eggs cap that evidently had been in use for twenty years." The meeting, which had no agenda and no structure, took the form of a free-wheeling discussion between the President and his advisors on one hand, and MacArthur and the CINCPAC, Admiral Arthur Radford, on the other. Topics discussed included Formosa, the Philippines and the wars in Vietnam and Korea. MacArthur noted that "No new policies, no new strategy of war or international politics, were proposed or discussed."Robert Sherrod, who was present as a correspondent felt that he "had witnessed nothing but a political grandstand play."

However, MacArthur did say things that would later be used against him. When asked by the President about the odds of Soviet or Chinese intervention in Korea, MacArthur replied:

Very little. Had they interfered in the first or second months it would have been decisive. We are no longer fearful of their intervention. We no longer stand hat in hand. The Chinese have 300,000 men in Manchuria. Of these probably not more than 100–115,000 are distributed along the Yalu River. Only 50–60,000 could be gotten across the Yalu River. They have no Air Force. Now that we have bases for our Air Force in Korea if the Chinese tried to get down to Pyongyang there would be the greatest slaughter.[76]

MacArthur expressed the hope that the Eighth Army could withdraw to Japan by the end of the year. When Bradley asked if a division could be sent to Europe, MacArthur replied that he could make one available in January. In fact, Chinese troops had already begun crossing the Yalu into North Korea, and by November 180,000 had done so.

Chinese intervention[edit]

When he returned from Wake, MacArthur faced the challenge of turning his promises into reality. On 24 October, he ordered his principal subordinates, Lieutenant GeneralWalton Walker, the commander of the Eighth Army, and Major General Edward Almond of X Corps, to "drive forward with all speed and full utilization of all their force." He also lifted the prohibition on troops other than South Koreans operating along the borders with China and the Soviet Union. Collins considered this a violation of the orders that the Joint Chiefs had issued on 27 September, but MacArthur pointed out that it was only, in the words of the original directive, "a matter of policy." He added that the matter had been raised at Wake Island, but no one else recalled this, particularly not Truman, who, unaware of these discussions, told reporters on 26 October that Koreans and not Americans would occupy the border areas. Within days, MacArthur's forces had encountered the Chinese in the Battle of Onjong and the Battle of Unsan.

Truman did not relieve MacArthur for the military reverses in Korea in November and December 1950. Truman later stated that he felt that MacArthur was no more to blame than General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower was for the military reverses he had suffered during the Battle of the Bulge. But this did not mean that it did not factor into his decision. "I considered him a great strategist," Truman later recalled, "until he made the march into North Korea without the knowledge that he should have had of the Chinese coming in."

In an attempt to slow the Chinese advance, MacArthur ordered the bridges across the Yalu to be bombed. After due consultation with his advisers, Truman declared that he would not approve of such an action, and the Joint Chiefs cancelled the order. When MacArthur protested, the President and the Joint Chiefs authorized the bombings, subject to the caveat that Chinese air space not be violated. Major General Emmett O'Donnell would later cite this to the Congressional inquiry into MacArthur's relief as an example of undue political interference in military operations. The Yalu River had many bends, and in some cases there were very restricted lines of approach without overflying the Yalu. This made life easier for the Communist antiaircraft gunners, but correspondingly less so for the aircrew. Within weeks, MacArthur was forced to retreat, and both Truman and MacArthur were forced to contemplate the prospect of abandoning Korea entirely.

Nuclear weapons[edit]

At a press conference on 30 November 1950, Truman was asked about the use of nuclear weapons:

Q. Mr. President, I wonder if we could retrace that reference to the atom bomb? Did we understand you clearly that the use of the atomic bomb is under active consideration?
Truman: Always has been. It is one of our weapons.
Q. Does that mean, Mr. President, use against military objectives, or civilian—
Truman: It's a matter that the military people will have to decide. I'm not a military authority that passes on those things.
Q. Mr. President, perhaps it would be better if we are allowed to quote your remarks on that directly?
Truman: I don't think—I don't think that is necessary.
Q. Mr. President, you said this depends on United Nations action. Does that mean that we wouldn't use the atomic bomb except on a United Nations authorization?
Truman: No, it doesn't mean that at all. The action against Communist China depends on the action of the United Nations. The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has.[88]

The implication was that the authority to use atomic weapons now rested in the hands of MacArthur. Truman's White House issued a clarification, noting that "only the President can authorize the use of the atom bomb, and no such authorization has been given," yet the comment still caused a domestic and international stir.[88] Truman had touched upon one of the most sensitive issues in civil-military relations in the post-World War II period: civilian control of nuclear weapons, which was enshrined in the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.[91]

On 9 December 1950, MacArthur requested field commander's discretion to employ nuclear weapons; he testified that such an employment would only be used to prevent an ultimate fallback, not to recover the situation in Korea. On 24 December 1950, MacArthur submitted a list of "retardation targets" in Korea, Manchuria and other parts of China, for which 34 atomic bombs would be required.[95] According to Major General Courtney Whitney, MacArthur considered a proposal by Louis Johnson to use radioactive wastes to seal off North Korea, but never submitted this to the Joint Chiefs. In January 1951, he refused to entertain proposals for the forward deployment of nuclear weapons.

In early April 1951, the Joint Chiefs became alarmed by the build up of Soviet forces in the Far East, particularly bombers and submarines. On 5 April 1951, they drafted orders for MacArthur authorizing attacks on Manchuria and the Shantung Peninsula if the Chinese launched airstrikes against his forces originating from there. The next day Truman met with the chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, Gordon Dean,[91] and arranged for the transfer of nine Mark 4 nuclear bombs to military control.[100] Dean was apprehensive about delegating the decision on how they should be used to MacArthur, who lacked expert technical knowledge of the weapons and their effects.[101] The Joint Chiefs were not entirely comfortable about giving them to MacArthur either, for fear that he might prematurely carry out his orders. Instead, they decided that the nuclear strike force would report to the Strategic Air Command (SAC). This time the bombers deployed with the fissile cores. SAC did not intend to attack air bases and depots; the bombers would target industrial cities in North Korea and China. Deployments of SAC bombers to Guam continued until the end of the war.

There has been debate whether MacArthur advocated the employment of nuclear weapons, including over whether his submission to the Joint Chiefs of Staff was tantamount to a recommendation. In his testimony before the Senate Inquiry, he stated that he had not recommended their use.[107] In 1960, MacArthur challenged a statement by Truman that he had wanted to use nuclear weapons, saying that "atomic bombing in the Korean War was never discussed either by my headquarters or in any communication to or from Washington"; Truman, admitting that he did not have documentation of any such claim, said that he was merely providing his personal opinion.[109] In interview with Jim G. Lucas and Bob Considine on 25 January 1954, posthumously published in 1964, MacArthur said,

Of all the campaigns of my life, 20 major ones to be exact, [Korea was] the one I felt most sure of was the one I was deprived of waging. I could have won the war in Korea in a maximum of 10 days.... I would have dropped between 30 and 50 atomic bombs on his air bases and other depots strung across the neck of Manchuria.... It was my plan as our amphibious forces moved south to spread behind us—from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea—a belt of radioactive cobalt. It could have been spread from wagons, carts, trucks and planes.... For at least 60 years there could have been no land invasion of Korea from the north. The enemy could not have marched across that radiated belt."[110]

In 1985 Richard Nixon recalled discussing the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with MacArthur:

MacArthur once spoke to me very eloquently about it, pacing the floor of his apartment in the Waldorf. He thought it a tragedy the bomb was ever exploded. MacArthur believed that the same restrictions ought to apply to atomic weapons as to conventional weapons, that the military objective should always be limited damage to noncombatants... MacArthur, you see, was a soldier. He believed in using force only against military targets, and that is why the nuclear thing turned him off, which I think speaks well of him.

Foreign pressure[edit]

The British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, was particularly disturbed by Truman's gaffe about nuclear weapons, and sought to revive the wartime Quebec Agreement, under which the United States would not use nuclear weapons without Britain's consent. The British were concerned that the United States was drifting into a war with China. In a visit to the United States in December 1950, Attlee raised the fears of the British and other European governments that "General MacArthur was running the show." As MacArthur's views about the importance of Asia in world affairs were well known, it was feared that United States would shift its focus away from Europe. In this instance, MacArthur was defended by Bradley, whose anglophobia dated back to World War II.

The British became alarmed in January 1951 when the Americans began talking of evacuating Korea. The British argued that to maintain European faith and unity it was vital to maintain some presence in Korea, even if it was nothing more than a toehold in the Pusan area. Once again, Bradley defended MacArthur, but it was clear that he had become an irritant in the relationship between the two countries. However, the alliance with Britain itself was unpopular in Congress.House Minority LeaderJoseph William Martin, Jr. slammed Truman for following Attlee's Britain to "slavery to government and crippling debt."

Public statements[edit]

On 1 December 1950, MacArthur was asked by a reporter if the restrictions on operations against Chinese forces on the far side of the Yalu River were "a handicap to effective military operations." He replied that they were indeed "an enormous handicap, unprecedented in military history." On 6 December, Truman issued a directive requiring all military officers and diplomatic officials to clear with the State Department all but routine statements before making them public, "and...refrain from direct communications on military or foreign policy with newspapers, magazines, and other publicity media."[120] Major General Courtney Whitney gave MacArthur a legal opinion that this applied "solely to formal public statements and not to communiqués, correspondence or personal conversations." MacArthur made similar remarks in press statements on 13 February and 7 March 1951.

In February and March 1951, the tide of war began to turn again, and MacArthur's forces drove north. Seoul, which had fallen on 4 January, was recaptured on 17 March. This raised hopes in Washington that the Chinese and North Koreans might be amenable to a ceasefire agreement, and Truman prepared a statement to this effect. MacArthur was informed of it by the Joint Chiefs on 20 March, and he warned the new commander of the Eighth Army, Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway, that political constraints might soon impose limits on his proposed operations. On 23 March, MacArthur issued a communiqué about offering a ceasefire to the Chinese:

Of even greater significance than our tactical successes has been the clear revelation that this new enemy, Red China, of such exaggerated and vaunted military power, lacks the industrial capability to provide adequately many critical items necessary to the conduct of modern war. He lacks the manufacturing base and those raw materials needed to produce, maintain and operate even moderate air and naval power, and he cannot provide the essentials for successful ground operations, such as tanks, heavy artillery and other refinements science has introduced into the conduct of military campaigns. Formerly his great numerical potential might well have filled this gap but with the development of existing methods of mass destruction numbers alone do not offset the vulnerability inherent in such deficiencies. Control of the seas and the air, which in turn means control over supplies, communications and transportation, are no less essential and decisive now than in the past. When this control exists, as in our case, and is coupled with an inferiority of ground firepower in the enemy's case, the resulting disparity is such that it cannot be overcome by bravery, however fanatical, or the most gross indifference to human loss.

These military weaknesses have been clearly and definitely revealed since Red China entered upon its undeclared war in Korea. Even under the inhibitions which now restrict the activity of the United Nations forces and the corresponding military advantages which accrue to Red China, it has been shown its complete inability to accomplish by force of arms the conquest of Korea. The enemy, therefore must by now be painfully aware that a decision of the United Nations to depart from its tolerant effort to contain the war to the area of Korea, through an expansion of our military operations to its coastal areas and interior bases, would doom Red China to the risk of imminent military collapse. These basic facts being established, there should be no insuperable difficulty in arriving at decisions on the Korean problem if the issues are resolved on their own merits, without being burdened by extraneous matters not directly related to Korea, such as Formosa or China's seat in the United Nations.

The next day, MacArthur authorized Ridgway to advance up to 20 miles (32 km) north of the 38th Parallel. Truman would later report that "I was ready to kick him into the North China Sea...I was never so put out in my life." Truman felt that MacArthur's communiqué, which had not been cleared in accordance with the December directive, had pre-empted his own proposal. He later wrote:

This was a most extraordinary statement for a military commander of the United Nations to issue on his own responsibility. It was an act totally disregarding all directives to abstain from any declarations on foreign policy. It was in open defiance of my orders as President and as Commander-in-Chief. This was a challenge to the authority of the President under the Constitution. It also flouted the policy of the United Nations. By this act MacArthur left me no choice—I could no longer tolerate his insubordination.

For the moment, however, he did. There had been dramatic confrontations over policy before, the most notable of which was between President Abraham Lincoln and Major General George McClellan, in 1862. Another example was President James Polk's recall of Major General Winfield Scott after the Mexican-American War. Before relieving MacArthur, Truman consulted history books on how Lincoln and Polk dealt with their generals. Truman later said that Polk was his favorite president because "he had the courage to tell Congress to go to Hell on foreign policy matters."

There were genuine differences of opinion over policy between MacArthur and the Truman administration. One was MacArthur's deep-seated belief that it was not possible to separate the struggle against Communism in Europe from that going on in Asia. This was seen as the result of being stationed for too many years in the Orient, and of his perspective as a theater commander responsible only for part of the Far East. Another important policy difference was MacArthur's belief that China was not, as Acheson maintained, "the Soviet Union's largest and most important satellite," but an independent state with its own agenda that, in MacArthur's words, "for its own purposes is [just temporarily] allied with Soviet Russia." If MacArthur's thesis was accepted, then it followed that expanding the war with China would not provoke a conflict with the Soviet Union. The Joint Chiefs emphatically disagreed, although this contradicted their position that it was Europe and not Asia that was the prime concern of the Soviet Union. Even among Republicans, there was little support for MacArthur's position.

On 5 April, Martin read the text of a letter he had received from MacArthur, dated 20 March, criticizing the Truman administration's priorities on the floor of the House. In it, MacArthur had written:

It seems strangely difficult for some to realize that here in Asia is where the Communist conspirators have elected to make their play for global conquest, and that we have joined the issue thus raised on the battlefield; that here we fight Europe's war with arms while the diplomatic there still fight it with words; that if we lose the war to communism in Asia the fall of Europe is inevitable; win it and Europe most probably would avoid war and yet preserve freedom. As you pointed out, we must win. There is no substitute for victory.

MacArthur later wrote that Martin had released the letter "for some unexplained reason and without consulting me", but it had not been marked as being confidential or off the record.

Diplomatic dispatch intercepts[edit]

The practice of intercepting and decrypting diplomatic messages of friend and foe alike was a closely held secret in the 1950s. In mid-March 1951, Truman learned through such intercepts that MacArthur had conversations with diplomats in Spain's and Portugal's Tokyo embassies. In these talks, MacArthur had expressed confidence that he would succeed in expanding the Korean War into a major conflict resulting in the permanent disposal of the "Chinese Communist question" and MacArthur did not want either country to be alarmed if this happened. The content of this particular intercept was known by only a very few of Truman's closest advisers, two being Paul Nitze, Director of the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department and his associate, Charles Burton Marshall. Truman considered MacArthur's conversations to be outright treachery and concluded that MacArthur had to be relieved, but was unable to act immediately because of MacArthur's political support and to avoid wider knowledge of the existence of the electronic intercepts of diplomatic messages.

Provoking China[edit]

Ridgway had prepared an offensive known as Operation Rugged, and pressed MacArthur for permission to launch it. On 15 March 1951, the day after Seoul had been recaptured a second time, Truman had responded to a reporter's question about whether UN forces would again be allowed to move north of the 38th Parallel by saying that it would be "a tactical matter for the field commander". MacArthur thereupon gave Ridgway permission to launch his attack, setting an objective line north of the 38th Parallel that would secure Seoul's water supply. He did so without consulting with Washington until after the attack began on 5 April 1951. It was making steady progress when MacArthur was relieved on 11 April.

Following the completion of flight operations the evening of 7 April 1951, Task Force 77, the Seventh Fleet's fast carrier task force, with the carriers USS Boxer and USS Philippine Sea, departed Korean waters in the Sea of Japan bound for the Straits of Formosa. At 11:00 on 11 April, Task Force 77 operating near the west coast of Taiwan, commenced an "aerial parade" along the east coast of mainland China. Concurrently, the destroyerUSS John A. Bole arrived at its assigned station 3 miles (4.8 km) offshore from the Chinese seaport of Swatow (Shantou), provoking the Chinese to surround it with an armada of over 40 armed powered junks. Although Task Force 77 was conducting its aerial parade over the horizon to the west, nearly two hours passed before aircraft from the task force appeared over Swatow and made threatening passes at the Chinese vessels and the port city.[144] MacArthur officially received notification of his dismissal shortly after 15:00 Tokyo time (14:00 on the China coast), although he had found out about it half an hour before. Two hours later, the Bole retired from its station without hostile action being initiated by either side. Author James Edwin Alexander expressed little doubt that the Bole and its crew were made "sitting ducks" by MacArthur trying to provoke the Chinese into attacking a U.S. warship in an attempt to expand the conflict.[144]


On the morning of 6 April 1951, Truman held a meeting in his office with Marshall, Bradley, Acheson and Harriman to discuss what would be done about MacArthur. Harriman was emphatically in favor of MacArthur's relief, but Bradley opposed it. George Marshall asked for more time to consider the matter. Acheson was personally in favor of relieving MacArthur but did not disclose this. Instead, he warned Truman that it would be "the biggest fight of your administration." At a second meeting the next day, Marshall and Bradley continued to oppose relief. On 8 April, the Joint Chiefs met with Marshall in his office. Each of the chiefs in turn expressed the opinion that MacArthur's relief was desirable from a "military point of view," but they recognized that military considerations were not paramount. They were concerned that "if MacArthur were not relieved, a large segment of our people would charge that civil authorities no longer controlled the military." The four advisers met with Truman in his office again on 9 April. Bradley informed the President of the views of the Joint Chiefs, and Marshall added that he agreed with them. Truman wrote in his diary that "it is of unanimous opinion of all that MacArthur be relieved. All four so advise."[147] Later, before Congress, the Joint Chiefs would insist that they had only "concurred" with the relief, not "recommended" it.

On 11 April 1951, President Truman drafted an order to MacArthur, which was issued under Bradley's signature:

I deeply regret that it becomes my duty as President and Commander-in-Chief of the United States military forces to replace you as Supreme Commander, Allied Powers; Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command; Commander-in-Chief, Far East; and Commanding General, U.S. Army, Far East.

You will turn over your commands, effective at once, to Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway. You are authorized to have issued such orders as are necessary to complete desired travel to such place as you select.

My reasons for your replacement, will be made public concurrently with the delivery to you of the foregoing order, and are contained in the next following message.[149]

In a 3 December 1973 article in Time magazine, Truman was quoted as saying in the early 1960s:

I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the President. I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.[150]

Although Truman and Acheson accused MacArthur of insubordination, the Joint Chiefs avoided any suggestion of this. MacArthur was not, in fact, relieved for insubordination. Insubordination was a military offense, and MacArthur could have requested a public court martial similar to that of Billy Mitchell in the 1920s. The outcome of such a trial was uncertain, and it might well have found him not guilty and ordered his reinstatement. The Joint Chiefs agreed that there was "little evidence that General MacArthur had ever failed to carry out a direct order of the Joint Chiefs, or acted in opposition to an order." "In point of fact," Bradley insisted, "MacArthur had stretched but not legally violated any JCS directives. He had violated the President's 6 December directive, relayed to him by the JCS, but this did not constitute violation of a JCS order."

The intention was that MacArthur would be personally notified of his relief by Secretary of the ArmyFrank Pace, who was touring the front in Korea, at 20:00 on 11 April (Washington, D.C. time

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