Collision Course

Monday, February 27, AD 2017


The things that you find on the internet.  I recently found on You Tube a television movie from 1976, Collision Course, which deals with the conflict between Douglas MacArthur and Harry Truman over Korean War policy.  I had seen the movie when it was first broadcast, and was delighted to watch it again.  Go here to watch the entire movie.  The late Henry Fonda stars as MacArthur and the late E.G. Marshall portrays Truman.  The Truman MacArthur conflict is often seen as a vindication of the right of the President to call the shots when it comes to foreign policy and waging war, but the conflict was actually caused by an abdication of presidential responsibility.  Truman viewed Korea as a potentially dangerous annoyance, and he wanted this “police action” wrapped up as soon as possible.  No planning was made about what to do if the Chinese intervened.  A sensible policy would have been to order MacArthur to form a defensive line north of Pyongyang and across to Wonsan.  The Korean peninsula narrows to a hundred miles at this point and would have been quite defensible with American firepower in the event of Chinese intervention.  Instead MacArthur, who was convinced that the Chinese would not intervene, was left free to conduct a helter-skelter advance to the Yalu, secure in his misguided belief that the Chinese would not intervene, and that if they did, he could easily defeat them.  MacArthur was guilty of military malpractice and Truman was guilty of presidential nonfeasance.

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MacArthur: A Man Out of Time

Thursday, June 16, AD 2016








More than a half century after his death General Douglas MacArthur continues to fascinate, as Francis P. Sempa demonstrates in a post at Real Clear Defense:

In 2015, the prolific and popular military historian Winston Groom (better known as the author of Forrest Gump) lauded MacArthur (along with Marshall and Patton) in The Generals as an exceptionally good soldier and great captain, who was as brave as a lion, bold as a bull, and audacious and inventive in “marshaling huge victorious armies.” MacArthur, Groom writes, served his country with distinction, and his memory “enriche[s] the national trust.”

James Duffy’s War at the End of the World, which appeared earlier this year, provides a detailed history of MacArthur’s New Guinea campaign, which has long been unfairly overshadowed by the Navy-Marine island battles in the Central Pacific.

Walter Borneman’s MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific has just been published. Borneman, like other MacArthur biographers, notes the general’s character flaws, but emphasizes MacArthur’s sense of mission, strategic brilliance, and “guiding principles of duty, honor, and country.”

Most anticipated, however, is Arthur Herman’s new biography, just released this month, entitled Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior. At 960 pages, it rivals the most comprehensive one-volume treatments of MacArthur to date: William Manchester’s American Caesar and Geoffrey Perret’s Old Soldier’s Never Die.

Later this fall, H.W. Brands’ The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War is scheduled to be released and, hopefully, will provide a fairer treatment of the Truman-MacArthur controversy than the conventional history that treats Truman as saint and MacArthur as sinner.  The truth, as usual, is more complex.

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3 Responses to MacArthur: A Man Out of Time

  • Of course, the Red Front US Left hates MacArthur to this day, because he threatened the world hegemony of China and Russia, even with nuclear weaponry, which they sought to achieve after WW2.
    However, my late father, who was anUS army artillery officer in WW2 and involved in the New Guinea campaign, idolized the man—regardless of his personal occasional deficiencies—and considered him one of the brightest, most knowledgeable men in the US Army, on a level with Patton. Like Patton, he grasped fully the battlefield, the theater, and even the inner thinking of his opponent strategists.

    Of course, he gravely mis-stepped in many ways at the outset of the war during the Imperial Japanese blitzkrieg through the Phillippines—but nothing really could have stopped them, so woefully inadequate was US military preparation for all-out war at that time. He also understood that the Phillippines, and he himself, were pawns to be sacrificed if necessary (they were) for the delay-detour-and-defeat strategy of Admirals King, Nimitz and others. One of the reasons for the rage of the IJ forces at Bataan and the death march was precisely because US Forces and Phillippine allies dogged them as much as possible in a completely uneven fight, costing them several additional weeks and logistical challenges.

    But, his crowning achievement, to me—transforming a post-war Japan with great understanding and empathy (and with much criticism, lost on his tough hide), everyone knows about, and to me and to my father, who had been scheduled for Operation Olympic, saved lives and was humane, almost divinely inspired, for two exhausted warring nations.

    It was also to the chagrin of the Soviets, who anticipated the two heavyweights in the Pacific bleeding each other white, even after the nuclear bombings, in a long, senseless guerilla warfare: a huge advantage to Stalin’s plans for Pacific power.

  • Many years ago, I read Manchester’s MacArthur book. I thought he was even-handed. Manchester wrote to draw a parallel with Caesar.
    If we look at MacArthur from a Greek “classics” viewpoint, we may see that he, in some aspects, fit the formula of the Greek tragedy. He was a great man with many accomplishment, exhibiting the Greek personality feature “arête” (Latin “virtus?). He was laid low, as were all Greek tragic heroes, by hubris, and the fact that in the USA the civilian authority, not the generals, run wars.
    In my opinion (opinion is not truth) another hubris-fueled “sin” was his ensuring that a certain Japanese general was hanged after the war.

  • MacArthur was a man, not a limp wrist effeminate nit wit.

January 1, 1946: Hirohito States That He Is Not a God

Friday, January 1, AD 2016


1946 began with a bang in Japan with the release of an Imperial Rescript by Hirohito in which he stated that he was not a god:

In greeting the New Year, We recall to mind that Emperor Meiji proclaims as the basis of our national policy, the Five Clauses of the Charter-Oath at the beginning of the Meiji Era. The Charter-Oath signified: 

  1. Deliberative assemblies shall be established and all measures of government decided in accordance with public opinion.
  2. All classes, high and low, shall unite in vigorously carrying out the affairs of State.
  3. All common people, no less than the civil and military officials, shall be allowed to fulfill their just desires so that there may not be any discontent among them.
  4. All the absurd usages of old shall be broken through, and equality and justice to be found in the workings of nature shall serve as the basis of action.
  5. Wisdom and knowledge shall be sought throughout the world for the purpose of promoting the welfare of the Empire.

     The proclamation is evident in significance and high in its ideals. We wish to make this oath anew and restore the country to stand on its own feet again.

     We have to reaffirm the principles embodied in the Charter, and proceed unflinchingly towards elimination of misguided practices of the past, and keeping in close touch with the desires of the people, we will construct a new Japan through thoroughly being pacific, the officials and the people alike, attaining rich culture, and advancing the standard of living of the people.

     The devastation of war inflicted upon our cities, the miseries of the destitute, the stagnation of trade, shortage of food, and great and growing number of the unemployed are indeed heart-rending.

     But if the nation is firmly united in its resolve to face the present ordeal and to seek civilization consistently in peace, a bright future will undoubtedly be ours, not only for our country, but for the whole humanity.

     Love of the family and love of the country are especially strong in this country. With more of this devotion should we now work towards love of mankind.

     We feel deeply concerned to note that consequent upon the protracted war ending in our defeat, our people are liable to grow restless and to fall into the Slough of Despond.

     Radical tendencies in excess are gradually spreading and the sense of morality tends to lose its hold on the people, with the result that there are signs of confusion of thoughts.

     We stand by the people and We wish always to share with them in their moments of joys and sorrows.

The ties between Us and Our people have always stood mutual trust and affection. They do not depend upon mere legends and myths.

     They are not predicated on the false conception that the Emperor is divine, and that the Japanese people are superior to other races and fated to rule the world.

     Our Government should make every effort to alleviate their trials and tribulations.

     At the same time, We trust that the people will rise to the occasion, and will strive courageously for the solution of their outstanding difficulties, and for the development of industry and culture.

     Acting upon a consciousness of solidarity and of mutual aid and broad tolerance in their civic life, they will prove themselves worthy of their best tradition.

     By their supreme endeavours in that direction, they will be able to render their substantial contribution to the welfare and advancement of mankind.

     The resolution for the year should be made at the beginning of the year. We expect Our people to join Us in all exertions looking to accomplishment of this great undertaking with an indomitable spirit.

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5 Responses to January 1, 1946: Hirohito States That He Is Not a God

  • Now if we could only get the same admission here in the good old USA… That goes for potential goddesses also.

  • Not likely, DonL. Not from a particular political party, or academia, or entertainment, or the judiciary.

  • History repeats itself, Penguins Fan and DonL, because men are (when without Christ) dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).

  • Penguins Fan: True. Those execrable people are pagans with many gods. The state; their cultish, progressive dystopias; and their groins are simply some of their gods. And, (narcissist or nihilist, you decide) Obama is their misbegotten spawn.
    They oppose the Church b /c Holy Mother competes with them for people’s hearts and minds. Ergo it must be destroyed.
    Related: Boycott Pepsi. Reportedly, it is selling soda cans omitting “Under God” from the inscribed Pledge of Allegiance. They don’t want to offend anybody.
    Well, I am offended.
    This year will be worse. Pray and prepare.

  • “This year will be worse. Pray and prepare.”

    Yup! Here in America, Satan’s quite comfortable out of the closet these days, but, we know a good locksmith if we bother to call on Him.

    Did anyone else notice this gem in the post?

    ” Radical tendencies in excess are gradually spreading and the sense of morality tends to lose its hold on the people, with the result that there are signs of confusion of thoughts.”

    How up-to-date is that?

In re Yamashita

Thursday, November 19, AD 2015

As I said in the Manila Supreme Court that I have done with my all capacity, so I don’t ashame in front of the gods for what I have done when I have died. But if you say to me ‘you do not have any ability to command the Japanese Army’ I should say nothing for it, because it is my own nature. Now, our war criminal trial going under your kindness and right. I know that all your American and American military affairs always has tolerant and rightful judgment. When I have been investigated in Manila court I have had a good treatment, kindful attitude from your good natured officers who protected me all the time. I never forget for what they have done for me even if I had died. I don’t blame my executioner. I’ll pray the gods bless them. Please send my thankful word to Col. Clarke and Lt. Col. Feldhaus, Lt. Col. Hendrix, Maj. Guy, Capt. Sandburg, Capt. Reel, at Manila court, and Col. Arnard. I thank you.

Yamashita’ s last statement, through a translator, on the gallows.  February 23, 1946

General Tomoyuki Yamashita won early fame in World War II by leading the conquest of Malaya.  With inferior forces he decisively defeated the British and earned the popular title of Tiger of Malaya.  Troops under his command did engage in massacres and looting, but Yamashita, unlike most Japanese commanders, severely punished the troops involved, up to and including execution of the guilty.  His humane attitude towards prisoners placed him at odds with the Japanese government, and he spent much of the war in virtual exile in Manchukuo commanding the First Area Army.  Worsening Japanese military fortunes caused him to be placed in command of the Philippines, ten days before MacArthur and his army returned.  Yamashita conducted a skillful defense of the Philippines, marred by massive atrocities against civilians in Manila.  It must be noted that Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi commanded the forces defending in Manila.  Yamashita had ordered the evacuation of Manila which Iwabuchi disobeyed, just as his men disobeyed Yamashita’s standing orders against ill treatment of civilians.

Yamashita was put on trial for war crimes in Manila from October 29, 1945-December 7, 1945 by an American military tribunal.  The principal accusation was that he had failed to keep his troops in the Philippines under control and that as a result he was responsible for their crimes.  This was a novel theory of criminal responsibility either under American military or civilian jurisprudence as his military defense counsel pointed out time and again.  Yamashita was impressed by the dedication and zeal of his defense counsel and stated several times that his respect for the United States had been reaffirmed by their efforts.

Behind the scenes MacArthur expressed impatience at the length of the trial, clearly wanting a quick guilty verdict.  When Yamashita was found guilty and sentenced to death, he swiftly affirmed the verdict and sentence when it was appealed to him.  Yamashita’s defense team then appealed to the US Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, In re Yamashita, 327 US 1, rejected the petitions for habeas corpus and writ of prohibition ruling:

It thus appears that the order convening the commission was a lawful order, that the commission was lawfully constituted, that petitioner was charged with violation of the law of war, and that the commission had authority to proceed with the trial, and, in doing so, did not violate any military, statutory, or constitutional command. We have considered, but find it unnecessary to discuss, other contentions which we find to be without merit. We therefore conclude that the detention of petitioner for trial and his detention upon his conviction, subject to the prescribed review by the military authorities, were lawful, and that the petition for certiorari, and leave to file in this Court petitions for writs of habeas corpus and prohibition should be, and they are


Justices Murphy and Rutledge wrote memorable dissents:

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5 Responses to In re Yamashita

  • So when push comes to shove, SCOTUS will decide wrongly.

  • What makes America unique in history; what made Her great in our time of advance leading the world, is the Rule of Law we embodied and cherished, based on our Constitutional system and our Bill of Rights.

    What is causing her downfall, (hopefully not Her dissolution), is the breakdown in that Rule of Law.

    When Law disconnects from the Lawgiver and attaches itself to the random vicissitudes of the will of the powerful, it is rendered meaningless. Lack of respect surely follows along with reduced willful participation and shared citizenship. All that is then left are the jackboots and the guns of the will-to-power and the fearful mind driving it all.

    This is an interesting example of the seeds of our future destruction; an icon of a growing cancer in our midst.

  • No nation is perfect. Ours has had numerous failures to abide by our Constitutional framework, from unjust treatment of Indians in the 18th century, to the initiation and conduct of war against states, abuse of military tribunals to railroad and execute Indians and people caught up in Lincoln’s assassination, and compelled, undemocratic Constitutional amendments in the 19th century, to interment of Japanese citizens and “war crime” tribunals in the 20th century, as documented in this post, up to and including the present lawlessness we see on the part of our government.

    And yet, we have the freedom and capacity to self-analyze, self-criticize, and (sometimes) self-correct that truly sets us apart from most countries in the history of the world.

  • In many countries, a transcript such as this would not see the light of day. From the remaining vestige of our founding principles, hope springs eternal. The rule of law is on its sickbed in America today but it is not dead. We must nourish it back to health with the medicine of truth. As to General Yamashita, he will fare better than his persecutors on judgment day.

  • An interesting fact from this post is that Justice Murphy is obviously unaware of Admiral Iwabuchi’s de facto mutiny against General Yamashita. His dissent would have been even more forceful had he acknowledged this fact, but he did not. One would guess that the defense team did not get an opportunity to make full use of this, perhaps due to a lack of a paper trail. Does anyone know if the trial transcripts are available online?

Feeding Japan

Friday, November 6, AD 2015


The most pressing problem facing General Douglas MacArthur as the post war ruler of a devastated Japan was the prospect of famine.  MacArthur immediately set up feeding stations throughout Japan in order to feed the tens of millions of Japanese who had been left completely indigent as a result of the War.  News of this filtered back to the states and was ill received in an America still angry from a War begun by a sneak attack and in the throes of mourning 400,000 war dead.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff warned MacArthur against the gratuitous use of US supplies to relieve Japan.

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2 Responses to Feeding Japan

  • Francis Marion refused to admit war claims against the Tories after the Revolutionary War ended, to insure peace. General MacArthur was right to feed the citizens of Japan when World War II ended. The children of Japan remember the goodness and generosity of the Americans to insure their survival. It is nothing less than the Good Samaritan did for the victim who fell among robbers.
    “Give me bread or give me bullets.” could only have come through the Holy Spirit. “It was MacArthur’s shining moment.”

  • Best way to destroy an enemy is to convert them to a friend. 😀

October 4, 1945: The Birth of Japanese Civil Liberties

Monday, October 19, AD 2015



General MacArthur wasted no time in letting the Japanese government know precisely the direction that the new Japan would take. By his directive of October 4, 1945,  (SCAPIN-93) he ordered the Japanese government to remove restrictions on the civil, political and religious rights of Japanese citizens.

Five days after the directive, the Japanese prime minister resigned, unwilling to carry out this sweeping change.  His successor released all political prisoners, repealed or abrogated fifteen laws restricting the rights of the Japanese people and began a far sweeping purge of government officials wedded to the old regime. 

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One Response to October 4, 1945: The Birth of Japanese Civil Liberties

  • Japan had a competitive parliamentary system prior to 1938, albeit one with a limited franchise of the sort characteristic of post-Napoleonic Europe. Shy of a quarter of the adult population cast ballots in the 1930 elections, A generation earlier, it had been below 5%. Not sure how free public deliberation was, or what sort of immunities the general public had in dealing with the authorities. The military paid no heed to elected officials after 1930. In our time and place, it’s the legal profession who appear to be beyond control.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus

Thursday, October 8, AD 2015


While he was Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Japan, General MacArthur had a framed quote on his wall.  The quote is from the Roman conqueror of Macedonia Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus, or at least the words that Livy put into the mouth of Paullus:

Do you give full credit to whatever I shall write to you, or to the senate; but do not by your credulity encourage mere rumours, of which no man shall appear as the responsible author.  For, no man is so entirely regardless of reputation, as that his spirits cannot be damped; which I have observed has commonly occurred, especially in this war.  In every circle, and, truly, at every table, there are people who lead armies into Macedonia; who know where the camp ought to be placed; what posts ought to be occupied by troops; when and through what pass Macedonia should be entered; where magazines should be formed; how provisions should be conveyed by land and sea; and when it is proper to engage the enemy, when to lie quiet. And they not only determine what is best to be done, but if any thing is done in any other manner than what they have pointed out, they arraign the consul, as if he were on his trial. These are great impediments to those who have the management of affairs; for every one cannot encounter injurious reports with the same constancy and firmness of mind as Fabius did, who chose to let his own authority be diminished through the folly of the people, rather than to mismanage the public business with a high reputation.  I am not one of those who think that commanders ought never to receive advice; on the contrary, I should deem that man more proud than wise, who did every thing of his own single judgment. What then is my opinion?  That commanders should be counselled, chiefly, by persons of known talent; by those, especially, who are skilled in the art of war, and who have been taught by experience; and next, by those who are present at the scene of action, who see the country, who see the enemy; who see the advantages that occasions offer, and who, embarked, as it were, in the same ship, are sharers of the danger.  If, therefore, any one thinks himself qualified to give advice respecting the war which I am to conduct, which may prove advantageous to the public, let him not refuse his assistance to the state, but let him come with me into Macedonia. He shall be furnished by me with a ship, a horse, a tent; and even with his travelling charges.  But if he thinks this too much trouble, and prefers the repose of a city life to the toils of war, let him not, on land, assume the office of a pilot.

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2 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus

  • I am sure our resident European expert in ancient languages, MPS, will correct me if I err, but wasn’t this an excerpt from chapter 22 of Livy’s book 44? Let us see if I got this right – it’s been 30+ years since I read any Livy in the original tongue, so hopefully I have not embarrassed myself.
    Vos quae scripsero senatui ac vobis, iis modo credite et cavete ru mores credulitate vestra alatis, quorum auctor nemo extabit. Nam nunc quidem, quod vulgo fieri, hoc praecipue bello, animaduerti, nemo tam famae contemptor est, cuius non debilitari animus possit. In omnibus circulis atque etiam, si displacet, in conuiviis sunt, qui exercitus in Macedoniam ducant, ubi castra locanda sint sciant, quae loca praesidiis occupanda, quando aut quo saltu intranda Macedonia, ubi horrea ponenda, qua terra, mari subvehantur commeatus, quando cum hoste manus conserendae, quando quiesse sit melius. Nec, quid faciendum sit, modo statuunt, sed, quidquid aliter, quam ipsi censuere, factum est, consulem veluti dicta die accusant. Haec magna impedimenta res gerentibus sunt: neque enim omnes tam firmi et constantis animi contra adversum rumorem esse possunt, quam Q. Fabius fuit, qui suum imperium minui per vanitatem populi maluit, quam secunda fama male rem publicam gerere. Non sum is, Quirites, qui non existumem admonendos duces esse: immo eum, qui de sua unius sententia omnia gerat, superbum iudico magis quam sapientem. Quid ergo est? Primum a prudentibus et proprie rei militaris peritis et usu doctis monendi imperatores sunt; deinde ab iis, qui intersunt gerendis rebus, qui loca, qui hostem, qui temporum opportunitatem vident, qui in eodem velut navigio participes sunt periculi. itaque si quis est, qui, quod e re publica sit, suadere se mihi in eo bello, quod gesturus sum, confidat, is ne deneget operam rei publicae et in Macedoniam mecum veniat. Nave, equo, tabernaculo, viatico etiam a me iuvabitur; si quem id facere piget et otium urbanum militiae laboribus praeoptat, e terra ne gubernaverit.

September 27, 1945: Hirohito Comes to MacArthur

Sunday, September 27, AD 2015

Emperor and Shogun

When MacArthur took up his command as Supreme Commander Allied Powers it was suggested by aides that he summon Hirohito to appear before him.  MacArthur rejected that suggestion, stating that it was important that Hirohito come to him voluntarily.  That he did on September 27, 1945, the first of eight meetings between the Emperor and the American Shogun.  The meeting lasted only a few minutes with Hirohito taking complete responsibility for the War and requesting that any punishment for the War fall on him.  MacArthur said that the War was over and that he wished to work with the Emperor for the betterment of Japan. 

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One Response to September 27, 1945: Hirohito Comes to MacArthur

  • My father loved history, not as much as fluorine and other halogens perhaps, but a former co-worker of his said Dad would hide away in his office reading some history book while pondering some problem in the lab. After doing so, he’d come out with the solution to the vexing problem. Thank you for including these tidbits on the blog.

Japan Remains One Country

Monday, September 21, AD 2015

01General Derevyanko1

One of the more decisive decisions of the Occupation of Japan, that Japan would remain one state, was made early in the process by General MacArthur.  The Soviets planned to occupy the northern island of Hokkaido and establish a puppet Soviet regime, identical to what was occurring in East Germany.  If this had succeeded, Japan could have been divided into a Communist North Japan and a Democratic South Japan for the length of the Cold War.  Appeasement of the Soviets was still very much in favor at the State Department, and it is possible that if the Soviets had simply begun landing in Hokkaido, that Washington may have capitulated on that point.  After all, the Soviets were full members, with Great Britain, in the Allied commission to supervise and monitor the Supreme Commander in Tokyo.  The Soviets also insisted upon a tri-partite division of Tokyo, similar to what was being done in Berlin.  MacArthur would have none of it.

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4 Responses to Japan Remains One Country

  • Now there’s some nightmare fodder. Japanese culture melded with the Soviet, rather than American, culture…

  • Yes Foxfier, Images of Socialist Samurais come to mind. Also coming to mind, is the trouble Dr. Carson is having after opining that a Muslim President would be unacceptable. Would the same trouble attach to someone saying as much about a possible Japanese president during the nineteen forties? As to the “religious test” prohibition in the Constitution, not all things licit are expedient.

  • It’s just lazy emotion-in-place-of-thought; the question of if a philosophy is compatible with the constitution has zero to do with if the constitution would forbid someone holding that philosophy from holding office.

  • If the Muslim held to Sharia Law, there would be no way to reconcile that with the Constitution.

Eisenhower and MacArthur-The Command Team That Never Was

Friday, September 18, AD 2015


Two of the five men who have held the rank of General of the Army, Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, could be quite acerbic in their assessments of each other.  MacArthur in 1947 referred to Eisenhower as the best clerk he ever had, and Eisenhower was fond of saying that he studied dramatics under MacArthur.  Both assessments had a fair amount of truth.  Eisenhower was the consummate military manager, but he lacked almost all skill as a commander of forces in combat.  His one taste of such command, in North Africa, produced distinctly lackluster results.  As for MacArthur he was overly dramatic, a penchant that played well in the Victorian world in which he was born, but often seemed ludicrous by World War II.

It is intriguing to speculate about what sort of command team they would have made if they had served together in World War II.  As Chief of Staff for MacArthur, Eisenhower would have been indispensable in making the most of the resources that MacArthur got at the tail end of a very long supply chain.  His skill at diplomacy would have smoothed the ruffled feathers of Presidents, as well as the often stormy relations that MacArthur had with the Navy and the Australians.  MacArthur would have contributed the streak of strategic and operational brilliance that Eisenhower sorely lacked.

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3 Responses to Eisenhower and MacArthur-The Command Team That Never Was

  • Smedley [Darlington Butler] always had this thing about “important and pompous officials. Dad and Douglas MacArthur were born within a year of each other,” says Tom Dick Butler. “MacArthur was always strutting around with his swagger stick, which Dad thought was a bit much.”

  • for the sake of history
    Washington – was general of the army[ies] and Commander in chief- highest rank ever

    MacArthur [ there were 2 attempts to give him a 6th star – studying the man, I think a lot of the criticims of him was jealousy – he was an extremely intelligent warrior who cared mostly about his mens lives
    Pershing[ declined to wear the 5th star[ gen’ of the arm[ies]

  • “Eisenhower was the consummate military manager, but he lacked almost all skill as a commander of forces in combat. His one taste of such command, in North Africa, produced distinctly lackluster results.”

    That may go a bit far, but it is also true that Eisenhower was too busy setting up his HQ in Paris to give much notice to the intelligence reports that hinted at the German buildup leading to the Battle of the Bulge.

    Still, Eisenhower made a far better President than MacArthur would have.

September 14, 1945: Statement by MacArthur

Monday, September 14, AD 2015




The task confronting MacArthur seventy years ago in Japan was absolutely staggering.  As Supreme Commander Allied Powers, he found himself in charge of a devastated Japan. Most of its major cities were collections of rubble.   The Japanese rail system was in shambles from Allied bombing.   Most of the Japanese merchant fleet was now sailing the bottom of the Pacific. An immense famine was manifestly waiting in the wings.  The Japanese shattered medical system was unable to cope with rampant disease.   Finally, the Japanese economy was at a virtual standstill, awaiting the repatriation of millions of Japanese troops stationed overseas to add to the ranks of the unemployed.  To top this off, MacArthur also had to fend off loud demands from politicians and ordinary American citizens that Japan be punished, anger at the unprovoked war still being raw in the United States.  MacArthur, ever sensitive to public opinion, on September 14, 1945 released a statement to give some inkling to his fellow countrymen of the situation in Japan:


September 14, 1945

New York Times.

I have noticed some impatience in the press, based upon the assumption of a so-called soft policy in Japan. This can only arise from an erroneous concept of what is occurring.

The first phase of the occupation must of necessity be based on military considerations which involved the deployment forward of our troops and the disarming and demobilization of the enemy. This is coupled with the paramount consideration of withdrawing our former prisoners of war and war internees from internment camps and evacuating them to their homes.

Safety and security require that all of the steps shall proceed with precision and completeness, lest calamity may be precipitated.

The military phase is proceeding in an entirely satisfactory way.

Over half of the enemy’s force in Japan proper is now demobilized and the entire program will be practically complete by the middle of October. During this interval of time, safety and complete security must be assured.

When the first phase is completed, other phases as provided in the surrender terms will infallibly follow. No one need have any doubt about the prompt, complete, entire fulfillment of the terms of surrender. The process, however, takes time. It is well understandable that in the face of atrocities committed by the enemy there should be impatience. This natural impulse, however, should be tempered by the fact that security and military expediency still require an exercise of some restraint. The surrender terms aren’t soft and they won’t be applied in kid-glove fashion.

Economically and industrially as well as militarily, Japan is completely exhausted and depleted. She is in a condition of utter collapse. Her governmental structure is controlled completely by occupation forces and is operating only to the extent necessary to insure such an orderly and controlled procedure as will prevent social chaos, disease and starvation.

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5 Responses to September 14, 1945: Statement by MacArthur

On Wisconsin

Wednesday, September 9, AD 2015

Arthur Macarthur

The men of the 24th Wisconsin weren’t sure about this.  They were coming under heavy fire and from the looks of things they were being asked to commit suicide.  Charging uphill into Confederate entrenchments, how could they win?  When their second standard bearer went down, they were convinced this attack was a very bad idea.  Then an eighteen year old Lieutenant stepped forward and grabbed the flag.  Turning to the men he yelled, “On Wisconsin!” and began clambering up Missionary Ridge.  With a roar, the men followed, the Lieutenant eventually planting their standard on top of Missionary Ridge.  That night of November 25, 1863 the corps commander of the 24th Wisconsin, hard bitten regular army, Major General Phil Sheridan, tearfully embraced the young Lieutenant, and told the men of the 24th to take care of him, because he had just won the Medal of Honor.  He had too, although like many of the Civil War recipients, he would not receive the Medal until decades after the War.

In the battles and campaigns that followed the young Lieutenant, who had lied about his age to join the Union Army at 17, rose steadily in rank, eventually commanding the regiment and ending the war as a 19 year old brevet Colonel, the youngest colonel in the Union Army.  In Wisconsin he would ever after be known as the “boy colonel”.

After the War, he briefly studied law, but in 1866 he re-enlisted in the Army as a Second Lieutenant, retiring in 1909 as a Lieutenant General. 

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Near Civil War in Wisconsin

Tuesday, September 8, AD 2015


The election of 1856 was hotly contested throughout the North, with state after state switching from Democratic control to that of the new found Republican party.  The Democrat incumbent Governor of Wisconsin, William A Barstow, was initially declared the winner of the contest by a mere 157 votes.  The Republicans cried fraud.  Democrats and Republicans formed rival militia units and began to converge on Madison, determined to fight if the “wrong” candidate were sworn in as governor.  Both Barstow and his Republican rival, Coles Bashford, were sworn in as governor in dueling inauguration ceremonies on January 7, 1857.  Civil War seemed all but certain.

The Wisconsin Attorney General now filed a writ of Quo Warranto seeking the removal of Barstow from office on the grounds that he was fraudulently elected.  The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on the matter, and, sure enough, evidence was produced that Barstow owed his margin of victory from “returns” from non-existent precincts in the sparsely settled northern part of the young state.  Barstow, who had initially said that he would not give up the governorship alive, ultimately decided that public opinion was running against him and resigned on March 21, 1857.  His Lieutenant Governor now was sworn in and stated that he would be the Governor come what may.  On March 25, the Supreme Court ruled that Bashford had won the election with a vote total of 1009.  The Lieutenant Governor/Governor decamped from Madison with his supporters and Bashford was recognized by the Wisconsin legislature as Governor.

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One Response to Near Civil War in Wisconsin

September 2, 1945: Japan Surrenders

Wednesday, September 2, AD 2015

A fascinating newsreel of the surrender ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.  Note that MacArthur hands pens after he signs to General Wainwright and General Percival.  Both men had been prisoners of Japan for most of the War, and their gaunt skeletal presence at the surrender ceremony was a tribute to the Allied POWs who had been treated with a brutality scarcely believable.  The Japanese representatives were impressed that they were not mocked but treated with courtesy, and they thought that perhaps this signaled that the occupation was not going to be as bad as they expected.  MacArthur’s closing remarks deserve to be remembered:

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3 Responses to September 2, 1945: Japan Surrenders

  • The war officially ended six years and one day after it began with the German invasion of Poland. I subscribe to several Polish interest feeds on Facebook and the accounts of the actions taken by Germany and the USSR were horrifying. So, too, were the actions taken by Japan. Even though Germany and Japan were pounded at the end of the war, they got off better than they deserved. Eastern Europe, China and Korea ended up with Communists in power, a hell unto itself that continues for many to this day.

  • Japanese diplomat Toshikazu Kase, in his 1945 report to Emperor Hirohito on the ceremony aboard the USS Missouri (BB-63) marking the surrender of Japan, and the end of the Second World War, wondered “whether it would have been possible for us, had we been victorious, to embrace the vanquished with similar magnanimity [as the U.S. embraced the Japanese]. Clearly, it would have been different.” He contnues, ” After all, we were not beaten by dint of superior arms. We were defeated in the spiritual contest by virtue of a nobler idea. The real issue was moral–beyond all the powers of algebra to compute.” (Taken from William Manchester’s “American Ceasar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964” pg. 534)

  • That’s a good book from a great biographer Greg.

Myths of MacArthur: Dugout Doug

Monday, August 31, AD 2015

Dugout Doug MacArthur lies ashaking on the Rock

Safe from all the bombers and from any sudden shock

Dugout Doug is eating of the best food on Bataan

And his troops go starving on.

Dugout Doug’s not timid, he’s just cautious, not afraid

He’s protecting carefully the stars that Franklin made

Four-star generals are rare as good food on Bataan

And his troops go starving on.

Dugout Doug is ready in his Kris Craft for the flee

Over bounding billows and the wildly raging sea

For the Japs are pounding on the gates of Old Bataan

And his troops go starving on…

Anonymous, 1942

Over the next few years we will be taking a look at General Douglas MacArthur, concentrating on his rule of Japan and his role in the Korean War.  A larger than life figure even while he lived, MacArthur has always sparked strong hate and love.  A number of myths have cropped up about Macarthur, and several posts will deal with dispelling these myths, so that we can look at him in the cold light of historical fact.  The first myth up is that of Dugout Doug.

The myth of Dugout Doug contends that MacArthur was a coward, who refused to share the dangers of his troops on Bataan, and fled from them, leaving them to endure defeat and brutal captivity, often ending in their deaths.

It is probably accurate to say that MacArthur was not a brave man.  In order to be brave, in a physical sense, one must know a fear of physical pain or death.  Some men simply have no such fear.  George Washington did not.  Throughout the French and Indian War and the American Revolution he constantly exposed himself to enemy fire while he led from the front, to the terror of his aides, who were brave men.  They marveled that Washington showed no sign of fear, and his only reaction to being fired upon was a look of minor annoyance.

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7 Responses to Myths of MacArthur: Dugout Doug

  • Two questions I hope will be answered in the coming articles; (I am of two minds on the man)

    Why did he not take out the Japanese planes stuck on Formosa (after he knew of Pearl Harbor the day before) instead of waiting until they crushed Clark Field and the B-17 fleet?

    Why did he reject Operation Rainbow and think he could protect all of Luzon’s many miles of shoreline with his tiny army of poorly armed scouts (mules and WWI rifles etc) against the Japanese modern war machine?

    I eagerly await your well-researched info on the man–including the Truman/Manchuria brouhaha.

  • MacArthur deserves a fair amount of blame for his planes being caught on the ground at Clarke, although the air commander Brereton was not blameless. I think a strike on Formosa with the B-17s would have accomplished little other than getting most of the B-17s shot down. The air odds were simply too great.

    In regard to the Japanese invasion, I think MacArthur was initially uncertain how many Japanese troops were being used, especially considering their offensives in southeast Asia. As it happened, the Japanese did invade with around 43,000 men in their main effort on December 22. MacArthur ordered the fall back to Bataan on December 24, which was executed brilliantly, although supplies were brought in only for 43,000 men instead of the 80,000 American and Filipino troops that ultimately garrisoned Bataan. There is much to criticize in MacArthur’s generalship overall in this campaign, although it must also be kept in mind that he was operating in a hopeless military situation once Washington made the decision not to try a risky reinforcement of the Philippines.

  • Thanks Donald. That is pretty much what I garnered from research, though many of the problems on Bataan were the unexpected masses of civilians joining the troops in the retreat. Many of the invaluable supplies were left behind, spread over those many rapidly deserted beachfronts.
    It appears that MacArthur (like his father) was loved by the Philippine peoples (and Scouts) but not so much by his American troops, who (IMO) failed to comprehend the more important need for his command to retreat to safety in order to prosecute the larger war. Wainwright did a heroic job in his place.

  • I will be interested in reading your opinion of his conduct of the Korean War,Did he want us to fight the Chinese or did he blunder into the fight?

  • Mac thought the Chinese were bluffing. He was not alone in that estimate. He also underestimated the military capabilities of the Communist Chinese, judging them by the woeful standards of the Nationalists during World War II. He should have been more careful, since, as usual in his career, he was at the very end of a long logistical chain, and Truman was trying to fight the War with the absolute minimum of US troops.

  • trying to fight the War with the absolute minimum of US troops.

    That’s become a rather bad habit, hasn’t it?

  • I should probably expound on that. I’m referring in general to what seems to have become since the end of WWII our habit of trying to win wars with the minimum of effort instead of the maximum. I think maybe Dennis Miller once made a joke along the same lines. The punchline was something about a conflict not being worth our full attention if it wasn’t worth nuking somebody over.

August 23, 1945: MacArthur Takes Charge

Sunday, August 23, AD 2015

MacArthur who was going to be responsible for ruling post war Japan during the occupation, lost no time in telling the Japanese precisely what they must do as he entered Japan to stage manage the formal surrender and take up his role as, in effect, the Yankee Shogun:

August 23, 1945

New York Times.

(1) Weather permitting, air-borne forces accompanying the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers will land at Atsugi Airdrome, in the vicinity of Tokyo, and naval and marine forces will land in the vicinity of Yokosuka Naval Base on Aug. 28, 1945. The instrument of surrender will be signed in the Tokyo area on Aug. 31.

(2) Requirements of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers presented to Japanese representatives at Manila, Philippine Islands, Aug. 20, 1945:

Requirements for entry of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers and his accompanying forces.

(1) The Japanese Imperial Government and Japanese Imperial General Headquarters will require execution of the following requirements effective 1800 hours [6 P.M.] Aug. 24, 1945:

(a) Japanese armed forces and civilian aviation authorities will insure that all Japanese military, naval and civil aircraft in Japan remain on ground, on water or aboard ship until further notification of disposition to be made of them.

(b) Japanese or Japanese-controlled military, naval or merchant vessels of all types in Japanese waters will be maintained without damage and will undertake no movement beyond voyages in progress pending instructions of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Vessels at sea will immediately render harmless and throw overboard explosives of all types. Vessels not at sea will immediately remove explosives of all types to safe storage ashore.

(c) Merchant vessels under 100 gross tons engaged in civilian supply activities in Japanese waters are excepted from foregoing instructions. Vessels in Tokyo Bay engaged in evacuation of personnel from Yokosuka Naval Base are also excepted.

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Quotes Suitable for Framing: William Manchester

Thursday, February 26, AD 2015


He was a thundering paradox of a man, noble and ignoble, inspiring and outrageous, arrogant and shy, the best of men and the worst of men, the most protean, most ridiculous, and most sublime. No more baffling, exasperating soldier ever wore a uniform. Flamboyant, imperious, and apocalyptic, he carried the plumage of a flamingo, could not acknowledge errors, and tried to cover up his mistakes with sly, childish tricks. Yet he was also endowed with great personal charm, a will of iron, and a soaring intellect. Unquestionably he was the most gifted man-at arms- this nation has produced.

William Manchester in a great one paragraph description of Douglas MacArthur, American Caesar

One sure way to get a fight started among American students of military history is to mention Douglas MacArthur.  About 40% will regard him as a vastly overrated egotistical incompetent, and another 40% will regard him as perhaps America’s greatest general.  Twenty percent will try to say that both sides have their points, just before a heated debate begins.  My own perspective is that we are still too close to MacArthur’s stormy time to render a judicious verdict on his career.  MacArthur is both the hero and villain of his biography and it will take generations to sort him out.

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10 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: William Manchester

  • It’s a stretch to call him the greatest American man at arms, in my view. Washington, Lee, Jackson, Patton? All these have better claims. MacArthur has Inchon, and even that was a hell of a gamble that could have ended disastrously if the NOKs had garrisoned and defended the harbor.

  • MacArthur’s island-hopping campaign in the Pacific was brilliant. He was a great commander, but maybe would have made a greater president. He was a statesman of the first degree. He was the “president” of Japan during the occupation and he never let the Emperor or the Japanese people lose their self-respect or their honor. The Japanese Constitution that he was responsible for was of course modeled on the the US Constitution. He is also a beloved figure in the Philippines, where on his deathbed be begged JFK not to get involved in a land war in Vietnam. Other than Vinegar Joe Stillwell no American knew the Asian people, their history and culture as well as MacArthur.

  • As a truly great man, perhaps MacArthur was greatly imperfect.

  • I read the book many years ago. Need to agree with the quote.

    He had brains and physical courage. As I remember, before Pershing went in after Pancho Villa, MacArthur and one or two made a “raid” into Mexico through Vera Cruz to recon the RR, etc. Supposedly, he had to smoke a Mexican with his side arm. MacArthur was an outstanding division (I think 42nd Rainbow) commander in WWI. His island hopping in the Pacific was world class. His Inchon end-run and offensive to the Yalu were remarkable.

    Negatives: horrid (he came out of retirement and his troops were unprepared and under-supplied – not his fault) defense of the Philippines in 1941/2 and insubordination (he had been near total ruler in Japan during the occupation) with the CinC: unpardonable (despite the fact that politics essentially are deceit and coercion) in a representative republic. His suppression of the WWI bonus vets in DC was a black mark; he was following orders, still . . . Big negative for me – he pushed real hard to have Gen’l. Yamashita (? who beat him in the Philippines) hanged.

    Maybe his deficiency was in moral courage. Don’t remember that in the book.

    Finally (at last), I don’t think any of his troops (probably nobody in the WWII or after) would say, “I would charge hell itself for that old man.” So, maybe the quote is as much about as as MacArthur.

  • “Sorry, do not trust Manchester, will not read his books.”

    I never read the Kennedy book Art, although I have read his other books. His volume on MacArthur is the best one volume bio of Mac that I have read, and I have read almost all of them. His two volumes on Churchill pale only when compared to Martin Gilbert’s work.

  • “It’s a stretch to call him the greatest American man at arms, in my view.”

    Probably, although I would definitely put him in the top twenty.

    “MacArthur has Inchon, and even that was a hell of a gamble that could have ended disastrously if the NOKs had garrisoned and defended the harbor.”

    Gamble is often part of War like Jackson and Lee at Chancellorsville. What gains my admiration is MacArthur the manager. He operated on a logistical shoestring in most of his campaigns and made it look easy, always making effective use of American naval and air superiority. The disaster that ended his career, the Chinese incursion into Korea, would look differently if MacArthur had been left in command to destroy the Chinese as I think he would have accomplished. He had a facility for getting results with minimal forces that is often not appreciated. Yet he had his flaws as a general. He always reacted poorly to surprises and had a talent for alienating talented subordinates while sheltering sycophantic blunderers. When it comes to MacArthur I have long engaged in a debate with myself as to his merits and demerits as a commander.

  • He was the “president” of Japan during the occupation and he never let the Emperor or the Japanese people lose their self-respect or their honor.

    American Shogun is how he tends to be remembered in Japan. Although it was never built, there was a fair amount of support for a statue to MacArthur in Tokyo with the inscription: General Douglas MacArthur-The Liberator of Japan.

  • “As a truly great man, perhaps MacArthur was greatly imperfect.”

    MacArthur was truly larger than life in his virtues and in his vices.

  • There are serious questions about his defense of the Philippines–foolishly trying to protect every inch of Luzon against invasion, and rapidly failing, then being forced to fall back into the very (Rainbow) plan he rejected–Bataan was the place to fight.
    There are also issues as to why he didn’t go after the Japanese air force stuck in Formosa due to fog, when he knew that only hours earlier, Pearl Harbor had been attacked. It cost us our far-reaching B-17s at Clark Field and ultimately much of the Pacific war.
    His troops in the ill-famed Bataan Death March felt when he left the battle, he deserted them (perhaps unfairly) but the Philippine people loved him.
    Who knows what the end result of his desire to go into Manchuria might have brought?
    His great day was returning to Leyte (the largest invasion in US history–even larger than D-day) but, it was his greatest moment to be on the deck of the US Missouri participating in the signing of the unconditional surrender of Japan.