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Korea%20228-242 - 228 GRAND EXPECTATIONS indicted for the...

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Unformatted text preview: 228 GRAND EXPECTATIONS indicted for the murder of American boys.” MacArthur’s reply heartily endorsed Martin’s sentiment and nicely summarized his overall view: 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 C011- quest, and that we have joined the issue thus raised on the battlefield; that here we fight Europe’s war with arms while the diplomats 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 point out, we must win. There is no substitute for victory.49 In writing such a letter to a partisan foe of the President—and in placing no restrictions on its publication—MacArthur sealed his doom as com, mander in Asia. When Martin read the letter on the floor of the House or: April 5, Truman knew he had to act. 50 Still, he moved deliberately, first consulting not only his military advisers but also Vice—President Barkley and House Speaker Rayburn. He even sought the opinion of Fred Vin- son, who was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. All said that the President had no choice but to remove MacArthur, political firestorrn or no. When the Joint Chiefs finally recommended removalwon military grounds—on April 9, Truman had the papers drawn up, but he still hoped to get word to MacArthur privately before proclaiming the deed to the world. When a leak threatened to foul up this strategy, the firing was announced sooner than Truman had planned—at 1:00 A.M. on the morning of April 1 1. That was almost six days after Martin had aired the letter. 51 In removing MacArthur, Truman noted the important policy issues, especially whether or not to limit the war, that separated the two men. These differences were profound, involving the relative strategic impor- tance to the United States of Europe and Asia, the use or non-use of nuclear weapons, and the taking of other provocative actions of war against China. MacArthur may have been correct to think that stepping up the war with China, especially the threat of nuclear weapons, would have induced Mao to ease off or to back down. But MacArthur had been wrong about a lot of things in 1950, including his predictions that the Chinese would not intervene. And his demands for escalation were fright- ening not only to Truman and his advisers but also to America’s allies and 49. Ferrell, Harry S. Truman, 12.7; McCullough, Truman, 837—39; james, Years of MacArthur, 589—90. 50. Donovan, Tumultuous Years, 352. 51. Truman, Memoirs, 2:499—510. KOREA 229 - MaCArthur’s re ma rized his Ove Ply Bea r H _ 'N.:‘..Had Truman followed MacArthur’s counsel, he would have 2: "vi direlations with his NATO allies and weakened Western defenses ope. He would have faced an even more costly war against China, Imight have had to fight the Soviet Union as well. To get bogged W11 ii a major war in Asia would have been senseless, and Truman read of dwelling on these policy disputes, however, Truman fired 'rthur because he wished to preserve the important constitutional ciple of civilian control over the military. MacArthur had repeatedly sgbeyed orders. He had been insubordinate, directly challenging the esrdent’s constitutional standing as commander—in-chief. Truman de— _ lino special pleasure in taking action, which he should have done ih earlier. “I was sorry to have a parting of the ways with the big man sia,” he wrote Eisenhower on April 12, “but he asked for it, and I had ve it to him. ” Although the firing required a certain amount of tical courage, Truman later explained to a reporter that “courage had nothing to do with it. He was insubordinate, and I fired him.”52 When MacArthur got news of his removal, he was at a luncheon in okyo. He said to his wife, “Jeannie, we’re going home at last."53 A few _ys later he took off for the United States, receiving a hero’s welcome in 'okyo, Hawaii, and San Francisco before arriving in Washington shortly after midnight on April 19. There he was met by the Ioint Chiefs, who had Unanimously recommended his firing, and a substantial crowd. Around acon that day he went to Capitol Hill to give an address to both houses of Congress. It was a scene of high drama, and MacArthur did not disappoint his admirers. He strode confidently down the aisle, whereupon the Con- gress gave him a standing ovation. He spoke for thirty-four minutes, during Which time he was interrupted by applause thirty times. Those present were struck by his control as he outlined his now familiar differences with _ American policies. He ended with dramatics. “I am closing my fifty—two years of military service," he said. “The world has turned over many times - since i took the oath on the Plains at West Point. . . . But I still remem— ber the refrain of one of the most pOpular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that—‘Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.’ And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away—an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-bye." Not everyone, of course, found the speech thrilling. Truman privately . rtant policy issues, arated the two men. ' 52. Oakley, God’s Country, 87. 53. Newswwk, April 30, 1951, p. 18; Oakley, God’s Country, 88. 2.30 GRAND EXPECTATIONS pronounced it “a hundred percent bullshit." But some congressman including people who had wanted him fired, wept openly. Dewey Short a conservative Republican from Missouri, said, “We heard God SPEak here today, God in the flesh, the voice of God.” From New York Came the verdict of former President Herbert Hoover, who described Mae. Arthur as “a reincarnation of St. Paul into a great General of the Army who came out of the East."54 A Gallup poll found that 69 percent of the American people sided with MacArthur in the controversy.55 There was more to come. After MacArthur spoke he rode triurnpl‘lanfiy . down Pennsylvania Avenue, where an estimated 300,000 people cheered him. let bombers and fighters flew in formation overhead. In New York the next day, he received a ticker—tape parade the likes of which the city had never seen before. Some estimates placed the crowds at 7. 5 million people. Office workers and residents clustered on balconies, rooftops, and fire escapes and threw down blizzards of torn paper. Men shouted, “God bless you, Mac!” On the river, tugs and ocean-going boats tooted, adding to the din of the occasion. The general, his cap white with paper, climbed onto the folded top of the open car and acknowledged the adoration. At City Hall he accepted a gold medal and exclaimed, “We shall never forget” the tremendous reception.55 While the homecoming orgy was taking place, Americans throughout the country were letting Truman and Congress know what they thought about the issue. Within twelve days of the firing the White House re- ceived more than 27,000 letters and telegrams, which ran twenty to one against the President. Many of these were so hostile and abusive that they were shown to the Secret Service. Members of Congress got another 100,000 messages during the first week, many of which demanded Tru- , . man s impeachment: {MPEACH THE }UDAS IN THE WHITE HOUSE WHO SOLD US DOWN THE REVER TO LEFT WINGERS AND THE U.N. SUGGEST YOU LOOK FOR ANOTHER HISS IN BLAIR HOUSE.57 Rancor also colored debate in Congress. Senator Robert Kerr, 3 fresh— man Democrat, dared to defend the firing. “General MacArthur,” he 54. Oakley, God’s Country, 90; Newsweek, April 30, 1951, p. 20; Halberstam, Fifties, 1 15; McCullough, Truman, 848—51. 55. McCullough, Truman, 847—48. 56. Newsweek, April 30, 1951, p. 18., 57. Oakley, God’s Country, 88. . mwwwrmmm KOREA 231 general war on Red China, Russia at come to her rescue. . . . I do not know how many thousand n 01s are sleeping in unmarked graves in North Korea. most of them are silent but immutable evidence of the tragic mistake é Magnificent MacArthur’ who told them that the Chinese Com— 155 just across the Yalu would not intervene."58 Ienner, however, ' "d, “Our only choice is to impeach President Truman and find out ' ' s the secret invisible government which has so cleverly led our ditty down the road to destruction.”59 McCarthy, not to be outdone, enounced Truman as a “son of a bitch” and blamed the firing on a te House cabal “stoned on bourbon and benedictine.”60 P rtisans like Jenner, McCarthy, and others kept up their attack long at the firing. And Truman maintained a low profile, appearing at no 31b: public events until the opening day of baseball season at Griffith 'adium, where he was booed by the crowd. But it was remarkable how uickly MacArthur’s support subsided after the initial frenzies. From the gin ing many leading newspapers, including some that normally op- ed ruman, had defended the right and duty of a President to punish sub rdination. Among them were the New York Times, the Baltimore Sim, t e Christian Science Monitor, and even the Republican New York era! r:Tritnme, which commended Truman’s “boldness and decision.” lose abservers of the crowd in New York agreed that the turnout was amazing and unprecedented but noted that many of the onlookers were I ore curious than anything else.61 By early May the emotions that had swept through the country in April were already abating. Ridgway, named to replace MacArthur, was hold— ing the line in Korea. Congressional hearings conducted by the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees slowly and inexorably completed this process of readjustment. Led by the grave and courtly Richard Russell, a powerful Senate Democrat from Georgia, the senators elicited repeated support for the constitutional principle that had moti- vated Truman, as.well as for his support of a limited war. The Ioint Chiefs were especially effective, pointing out-—contrary to MacAr'thur’s claims— that they had never shared his views about escalation or the centrality of Asia in the grand strategy of the United States. Bradley delivered the line it bullshit. " But some con r '- aim fired, wept openly. Denies; '- [ssour1, said, “We heard Gold- h ‘ ce of God.” From New York Sp erbert Hoover, who described - .5111 into a great General of the Ill/II; pf poll found that 6 . . 9 percent ' r_ in the controversy. 55 0ft claimed that if we started a g {2' Americans throughout- lmow what they thought- the White House re- , ch ran twenty to one 6. and abusive that they ongress got another 1b Stan}, FlffieS, 58. Newsweek, April 30, 1951, p. 24. 59. McCullough, Truman, 844.. 60. William Leuchtenburg, A Trou 1973), 22- 61. McCullough, Truman, 846—47. bled Feast: American Society Since 1945 (Boston, 2.32 GRAND EXPECTATIONS that everyone remembers when he said that MacArthur’s policies “Would involve us in the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy.” ALTHOUGH TEMPERS COOLED in May and June of 1951, they revealed a stubborn fact: Americans had small patience for lingering “lim, ited war." Most people seemed to agree with Truman that escalation of war with China and use of nuclear weapons would be costly and bloody. At the same time, however, Americans were frustrated. They had initially supported the war believing that the “credibility” of the United States and the "Free World” were at stake. But they had expected to win—America always had (they thought). As MacArthur had said, there was “no substi- tute for victory." As this very different and difficult conflict became a bloody stalemate after March 19 5 1 their frustrations mounted, and “Tm- man’s War” engendered ever—rising resentment. Frustration of this sort suggested that democracy and prolonged military stalemate do not easily mix. Indeed, the frustration was understandable, for the fighting continued to shed a great deal of blood. Chinese and North Korean losses became staggering. Nearly 45 percent of American casualties were suffered in the last two years of fighting. This was the war of Heartbreak Ridge (September 1951), Pork Chop Hill (April 1953), bloody night patrols, ambushes, mines, flying shrapnel from artillery, sudden raids for already war—scarred real estate. Bombing and artillery denuded the landscape around the 38th parallel. More sweltering heat and rainstorms, frigid cold and howling winds, heat and rain- storrns again, more cold. And no ground gained. Would the war ever end? Beginning in July 1951 the United Nations, led by the United States, entered into peace talks with their enemies. Headlines thereafter peri- odically held out hope for an end to the conflict. These were cruel delusions, for the fighting lasted until Iuly 1953. Although both sides seemed willing to accept a cease—fire that would confirm existing military realities—close to what they had been at the start of the warmthey differed on the issue of repatriation of North Korean and Chinese prisoners of war. The Truman administration insisted that repatriation of such prisoners» around 1 10,000 in all—had to be voluntary. Those who did not want to return to North Korea or to China, estimated at more than 45,000, w0uld not have to. China and North Korea refused to accede, arguing that many of these prisoners had been intimidated by brutal Nationalist Chinese guards who were threatening them‘with injury or death if they said they rsmawimammeWmmmn KOREA 233 id that MacArthur’s ' ' ."' poll-Cl ‘2'. a wrong place, at the es 'W . . to go home.62 Truman probably could have given in on this point Wreng time "gt-arousing great domestic protest; most Americans did not get ex— out the fate of enemy prisoners. But he did not, regarding the issue -. of principle. The Chinese and North Koreans, too, held firm, halls hoping they could get better terms once Truman was out of office " '952. The issue was resolved only in mid-1953, when the enemy way. At that time 50,000 enemy prisoners, including 14,700 Chi— cfused to go home.53 The frustrations aroused by war and stalemate in negotiations gradually {ought MacArthurite solutions back into the realm of discussion. In fia‘ry 1952 Acheson contacted the British to get their approval, in case istice talks broke down or terms of an armistice agreement were vio— ld, for the bombing of military targets in China and for blockading of mainland. Winston Churchill, who had become Prime Minister in ".51, demurred. He also sought assurances that the United States would (it. use nuclear weapons. Bradley gave him cold comfort. The United fates did not plan to use atomic bombs in Korea, he said, “since up to the resent time no suitable targets were presented. It the situation changed in any way, so that suitable targets were presented, a new situation would tise."64 . Bradley’s comment seemed to suggest that Truman's advisers were gain willing to consider resorting to nuclear weapons. This might have been popular with the American people. In August 1050 polls had showed only 28 percent of Americans in favor of such use. By November '1951, a time of stalemate, 51 percent were willing to see the Bomb let loose on “military targets."65 Two months later—mwhen Acheson was "exploring escalation with Churchill—Truman, sat down and wrote a memo to himself spelling out a possible ultimatum to the Soviets, whom he still blamed for all that had happened in Korea. It read: . . . merican ghting. This was the wa- It seems to me that the proper approach now would be an ultimatum with a ten-day expiration limit, informing Moscow that we intend to blockade the China coast from the Korean border to Indochina, and that we intend to destroy every military base in Manchuria by means now in our control— 62. Rosemary Foot, A Substitute for Victory: The Politics of Peacemaking at the Korean Armistice Talks (Ithaca, 1090). 63. Bernstein, “Truman Administration,” 438—40. 64. Caddis, Strategies of Containment, 123; Bernstein, “Truman Administration,” 430. 65. Stephen Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War (Baltimore, 1901), 5. 2.34 GRAND EXPECTATIONS and if there is further interference we shall eliminate any ports or cities necessary to accomplish our purposes. This means all-out war. It means that Moscow, St. Petersburg, Mukden, Vladivostok, Peking, Shanghai, Port Arthur, Darien, Odessa7 Stalingrad, and every manufacturing plant in China and the Soviet Union will be eliminated.66 ra.:v>>.§a'z3z'mi~z{=:m;;» Four months later, in May, Truman returned to this idea. This time he drafted an internal memo to “the Commies": “Now do you want an end to hostilities in Korea or do you want China and Siberia destroyed? You may have one or the other; whichever you want, these lies of yours at the conference have gone far enough. You either accept our fair and lust proposal or you will be completely destroyed."57 The President never sent such messages. As ever, he considered EurOpe more important to American security than Asia, and he wanted to end the fighting in Korea so that the United States could concentrate its resources in the West. His memos were ways of blowing off steam—~contingent schemes that would be considered only in the event of collapse of negotia— tions or aggression elsewhere.68 Still, it was clear that high American officials—“Acheson, Bradley, the President—found the trials of limited war deeply frustrating as of 1952. ' mnwmtxgynxwf. THE KOREAN WAR FINALLY came to a close on July 27, 1953, after the Chinese and North Koreans agreed to voluntary repatriation of prisoners of war. Why they relented after two years remains yet another debated mystery of the war. Some people point to the death of Stalin in March 1953, arguing that the new Soviet leadership pressured China to back down. Others think Eisenhower, then President, may have threat- ened the enemy with the use of nuclear weapons. This cannot be solidly documented. The most likely reason was that the Chinese and North Koreans were tired. Recognizing that Eisenhower and the new Republi- can administration were impatient and uncompromising, they decided to settle. After more than three years of fighting, an uneasy cease—fire settled on a peninsula now more implacably divided than ever. The boundaries did not differ greatly from those at the start of the fighting in 1950.69 .66. Boyer, “‘Sorne Sort of Peace,” 198. 67. lbid., 198. 68. Gaddis, Strategies ofConthinment, 123. 69. Ambrose, Eisenhower, 294—96, 327—30, says there was no explicit nuclear threat but that Eisenhower's reputation as a man who would go all~out to win probably influenced the enemy to deal. See also Foot, “Making Known." KOREA 235 "did the war affect the Uni we shall eliminate any ports Ol'lcd' 1. me ways, not very happily. res. reans‘that Moscow, St. Peters- tngi’lai, Port Arthur, Darien Ode : 7 S gplant in China and the Soviet Um Truman’s failure to consult Congress edent and helped to saddle his administration with blame e fighting fell into apparently pointless stalemate. More impor- __estern “credibility” would have been stronger if the UN had tthe 38th parallel. The decision that provoked the stalemate—to i her north—was indeed hard to resist: what would the American ave said if enemy troops, then on the run, had been allowed to and regroup behind their old borders? Still, pressing to the Yalu grisly proved costly. That decision also enabled the Chinese, who he war, to establish their own _ " otherwise have stayed out of t ' dibility” and to emerge with enhanced standing in the eyes of many av I—not” nations in the world. ' Korea also accelerated the process of globalization of fighting ended, the United States found itself : more strongly committed to greater military support for NATO. It rts to rebuild Japan as a bastion of capitalist anti—Com- _ a. 70 It had to protect Rhee, a tyrant, and to station troops in nth Korea for decades ahead. It also foun...
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