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Part Two: The Politics of War
NARR: For nearly two years he had struggled through the jungles of New Guinea
fighting the Japanese -- and the war planners in Washington. Across oceans, in
a bitter competition with the Navy, which he felt was out to thwart him.
In April 1944, General Douglas MacArthur was about to launch his biggest battle
since World War II began. He was destined, his parents had told him, to be a
great man. At West Point he had been first in his class. In World War I,
America's most decorated soldier. But in 1942 he had presided over the biggest
defeat in the history of the U.S. Army -- the surrender of more than 70,000
American and Filipino troops -- on the Bataan peninsula guarding Manila Bay,
and the island fortress of Corregidor.
MacArthur's redemption lay in how quickly he could move across New Guinea --
and rescue the men he had left behind.
NARR: When his troops sped toward Hollandia, in Dutch New Guinea, in April
1944, MacArthur was still 1500 miles from his men. And they were suffering.
EDWIN RAMSEY, U.S. Army Guerilla: When somebody was accused of being a
collaborator with the Americans, they would be given all kinds of torture in
order to get from them any information that they might have with regard to the
RICHARD M. GORDON, U.S. Army POW: I thought it was a Filipino. It was an
American Indian. They beheaded the individual. They put his head on a pole.
They walked up and down the main road in the camp so we could all see what
happened to an escaped prisoner.
GUSTAVO INGLES, Philippine Army Guerilla Leader: Early in the morning they
were brought to the Chinese cemetery in Manila and they were beheaded. They
were just told to kneel down in front of the holes where they were supposed to
be buried with a Japanese Samurai.
RAMSEY: I leave, but I shall return. Well, those of us who admired him always
believed he would return.
INGLES: "I shall return," and we were always banking on his return. That's
why we continued fighting.
NARR: MacArthur had told Philippine President Manuel Quezon, when he retreated
to the States, that he would lead him back to Manila with his bayonets. Manila
was MacArthur's spiritual home. He had lived there with his family for more
than six years before the war serving as Quezon's military advisor. His son
Arthur spent his first four years in Manila.
After they retreated to Australia, Arthur, age five, asked his father, "When
are we going back to Manila?" This was the question MacArthur asked the Joint
Chiefs of Staff in Washington. He wanted to liberate Manila en route to Japan.
But the decision was theirs not his.
In the spring of 1944, only Army Chief of Staff George
Marshall supported him. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest King wanted a
more direct route toward Japan. The Navy's new fleet of fast carriers was
designed to sweep rapidly across the Pacific. MacArthur had counted on the
support of the Army Air Force. Their new bomber, the B-29, came on line in
1944, and they were eager to use it against Japan. The Navy not MacArthur
could get them within bombing range.
In March of 1944, the Air Force sided with the Navy. The Chiefs ordered the
Navy and Marines to take the Marianas Islands. From there B-29s could reach
Tokyo. The Chiefs then favored a Navy push toward Formosa. Formosa would be
a staging area for the invasion of Japan. MacArthur was appalled to learn that
his New Guinea campaign would terminate in the Southern Philippines. Far from
Luzon -- where his men were suffering as prisoners of war. MacArthur could
only count on a token return -- not a heroic return as the liberator of Luzon.
GEOFFREY PERRET, Biographer: The strategic decisions that are being made in
the middle of 1944 are essentially going against MacArthur. It's frightening.
It looks like his nightmare is going to be realized, not his dream.
STEPHEN TAAFFE, Historian: The Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, leaves a
loophole for MacArthur. They say that it might be necessary for MacArthur to
seize parts of Luzon, which is really the heart of the Philippines. MacArthur
will use this little loophole to press for a Philippines campaign. MacArthur
decides if he can get across New Guinea faster than the Navy can get across the
Central Pacific, then he can reopen the debate somewhere down the line, and
persuade the Joint Chiefs of Staff to let him occupy all of the Philippines,
not just the southern Philippines.
MICHAEL SCHALLER, Historian: MacArthur believed Eisenhower and Marshall were
against him in Europe, the Navy was against him in the Pacific, Roosevelt was a
tool of the Navy and of Marshall. All of this led MacArthur to believe that
only a political club would give him the power or leverage he needed to get the
supplies, the attention and strategic priorities which he thought were
NARR: Congressman Albert Miller of Nebraska supported a MacArthur run for
President against Franklin Roosevelt in 1944. "Unless this New Deal can be
stopped," Miller wrote MacArthur, "our American way of life is forever
"I do unreservedly agree with the wisdom of your comments," MacArthur wrote
back. When the correspondence became public in April, MacArthur appeared to
many as disloyal to his Commander-in-Chief. To one observer he was "a rather
pompous and ignorant ass." He was forced to deny his candidacy.
MacArthur received another blow in June. The Joint Chiefs
visited Normandy after General Eisenhower's successful D-Day landing. They
wanted to speed up the Pacific War. George Marshall alone had stymied King's
demand for bypassing the Philippines. Now he began to agree with Admiral King.
MARK STOLER, Marshall Biographer: And, Marshall begins to think about
bypassing the Philippines and Formosa and going straight for the Japanese home
islands. When his planners make clear that that cannot work, he will say
Formosa is strategically a better option than the Philippines.
NARR: If the Philippines were to be bypassed, MacArthur cabled Marshall, he
wanted to meet with the President. Marshall cabled back: "You are allowing
personal feelings...to override our great objective which is the early
conclusion of the war with Japan...You confuse...'by-passing' with
'abandonment.'" He then ordered MacArthur to report to Honolulu on July 26.
The day after Democrats nominated Roosevelt for a fourth term that July, the
President secretly boarded a cruiser and headed for Honolulu.
HAL LAMAR, Aide to Admiral Nimitz: General MacArthur arrived at the dock where
the cruiser "Baltimore" was tied up, in an open car which everybody knew
belonged to the madam of the biggest whorehouse in Honolulu.
DONALD SHOWERS, Aide to Admiral Nimitz: And then he very casually and, but
smartly, started walking aboard ship, up the president's gangway, up this red
carpeted gangway, which no one else had used up to that point.
LAMAR: General MacArthur went up the gangway, stopped halfway, turned and
waved to the crowd.
SHOWER: As though he had all the time in the world and no one was, was waiting
for him. And then when the cheer died down, he continued on up the gangplank
and boarded the ship.
NARR: "I guess you know what this conference is for," FDR said, annoyed
MacArthur had kept him waiting for an hour. "No," MacArthur replied. "I am
ROBERT DALLEK, Historian: What a lot of nonsense. MacArthur wasn't prepared?
He knew exactly what this was about. And he was all loaded for bear.
NARR: For three days MacArthur and Roosevelt played politics. FDR's agenda
came first. He toured military installations with Admiral of the Pacific Fleet
Chester Nimitz and America's favorite general -- a prominent Republican.
DALLEK: There's nobody in the Navy who shares MacArthur's prestige. I mean
yes, Nimitz is important and Admiral King is important and Admiral Halsey is
important, but no one has the prestige and standing that Douglas MacArthur
does, and Roosevelt identifies himself with MacArthur again. He's taming him.
He's using him. He's going to disarm conservative mood and attitude and
feeling in the United States.
NARR: MacArthur's turn came after supper when they discussed the next step in
the war against Japan. Admiral Nimitz made the case for attacking Formosa.
MacArthur stressed America's moral obligation to liberate the Philippines.
LAMAR: Well, MacArthur, the Admiral said, kept repeating, "I have promised the
people of the Philippines, that I will return -- I have to keep my word, I
cannot break the word." He said, "The United States would hate me, if I didn't
keep my word."
PERRET: The next day after lunch, he managed to get ten minutes alone with
Roosevelt. And he made his strongest case, which was essentially a political
pitch. He said, "Mr. President, you hope to be re-elected President. But the
country would never forgive you if you left 17 million Christian American
subjects to wither under the conqueror's heel until there is a peace treaty.
Politically, it would ruin you."
DALLEK: He was leaving no question in Roosevelt's mind that if you bypass the
Philippines, I am going to present a challenge to you politically, not
necessarily to run for the Presidency against you, but to undermine your
political standing with massive numbers of Americans who will see the betrayal
that you're, "the betrayal" that you're committing."
NARR: Douglas MacArthur and Franklin Roosevelt may well have struck a deal.
SCHALLER: Both men came away convinced that MacArthur would not do anything
politically disruptive before the Presidential election and Roosevelt would
weigh in on the side of a plan to have a large scale liberation of at least
part of the Philippines, if not all.
NARR: Roosevelt wrote MacArthur saying he would "push on that plan." There is
no evidence he ever did. At the end of July within days of their meeting,
MacArthur's forces were at the western tip of New Guinea.
ZENEIDA QUEZON AVANCENA, Daughter of President Quezon: On August 1, 1944, my
father had the radio turned on to listen to the news. And the news came that
the Americans had landed in an island 800 miles from the Philippines. And my
father said, "Only 800 miles."
NARR: Manuel Quezon would never follow MacArthur's bayonets back to the
Philippines. He died an hour later.
On September 8, the Joint Chiefs informed MacArthur he could advance to the
island of Leyte in the central Philippines. They made no decision on what lay
next -- Luzon or Formosa. A week later he landed on an island north of New
Guinea, only 300 miles from the Southern Philippines. He gazed out to sea, an
aide recalled, as though he could glimpse through the clouds, the rugged
mountains of Bataan and the charred spine of Corregidor. "They are waiting
for me there," he said. "It has been a long time."
Just days before, planes from Navy carriers had bombed the
Southern Philippines, then Leyte further north. They met little resistance.
Admiral Halsey wired Admiral Nimitz in Honolulu recommending an earlier landing
at Leyte. Nimitz forwarded the cable to the Joint Chiefs offering MacArthur
the Navy's support.
The Joint Chiefs advanced the date of the Leyte landing. Then decided the issue
MacArthur felt so strongly about. The Luzon-Formosa question was resolved not
on the basis of institutional loyalties. Not on the morality of bypassing
tortured prisoners, but on logistics.
TAAFFE: One of the problems with invading Formosa is that it's logistically
difficult. The Navy has moved across the central Pacific rather rapidly, and
in order to accumulate the men and material to invade Formosa would take too
long, it would mean the Pacific war would have to stagnate for a couple of
months, and no American military planner wants that. They want to keep the
ball rolling, they want to continue to advance on Japan.
NARR: The Navy's success in the bitter rivalry helped to assure MacArthur's
redemption. The Leyte invasion would mark the beginning of his liberation of
The Philippines. He had long complained about a lack of shipping. No longer.
"Tell Arthur," he wrote his wife Jean from the cruiser Nashville, "that we have
more than 600 ships and that as far as I can see in all directions there are
nothing but ships...With all love...to you both. I'll be thinking of you
tomorrow when I go in."
On October 20, MacArthur went ashore, the last four star general to exercise
command at the front. His two and one half year quest was over.
MacARTHUR: People of the Philippines, I have returned. Rally to me. Let the
indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. Rise and strike! For
future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your
sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be
NARR: Ten days after the landing, a MacArthur communiqué said Leyte was
secure. But the fighting, journalists noted, had hardly begun. "The elections
are coming up in a few days," a press officer explained. If MacArthur had made
a deal to give FDR good news before the election, he delivered on that day.
FDR: Speaking of the glorious operations in the Philippines -- I wonder
whatever became of the suggestion made a few weeks ago that I had failed for
political reasons to send enough forces or supplies to General MacArthur?
NARR: In December, Roosevelt promoted MacArthur and his other top generals and
admirals to five star rank. Within days, Admiral Nimitz paid a visit.
LAMAR: MacArthur was there
to greet us at the bottom of the
gang plank, and when he saw the five stars, you could see this frown come in
his face. And, later on, I understood from his aide that he was furious that
the Admiral had out-shown him, by having five stars on. And General MacArthur
had his staff stay up all night, filing down Philippine ten cent pieces to make
five stars. The next morning at breakfast, he appeared with five stars. The
General appeared with five stars.
NARR: In early January, 1945, MacArthur headed for Luzon. As he passed
Corregidor and Bataan he remembered "that black night three years gone, when I
churned through these same waters with only the determination to return...I
felt an indescribable sense of sorrow, of loneliness and of solemn
consecration." He headed for Manila, the city where his mother had died, where
he had courted his wife, where his son had been born. In liberating the city
he loved, he would help to destroy it.
MacARTHUR: "More than three years have elapsed -- years of bitterness,
struggle and sacrifice -- since I withdrew our forces and installations from
this beautiful city that...its churches and cultural centers might be spared
the violence of military ravage. The enemy would not have it so...By these
ashes he has wantonly fixed the future pattern of his own doom.
NARR: MacArthur could not finish this speech. He broke down and recited the
QUEZON AVANCENA: If my father could have seen what happened in the
Philippines, and if he could have known the atrocities that had been committed
by the Japanese, it certainly would have broken his heart, as it did ours when
we first came home. Manila was destroyed. There was nothing, nothing at
NARR: Only one-third of the men MacArthur left behind had
survived the war. There were burial details every day. "Here was all that was
left of my men of Bataan and Corregidor," he wrote. I looked down the lines of
men ...with suffering and torture written on their gaunt faces. "Each man
barely speaking above a whisper said, 'You're back,' or 'You made it,' or 'God
bless you.' I could only reply, 'I'm a little late, but we finally came.'"
MacArthur had not seen his family for more than four months. On his 65th
birthday in January, Jean wrote: "I send all my love to you and may it help to
form a mantle of protection for you. I love you more than you will ever know.
May we be able to share in peace many more of your birthdays together. God
bless you. Jeannie."
In May, the Joint Chiefs put MacArthur in command of the invasion of Japan.
His planning had barely begun when the war ended abruptly in August. The
atomic bomb was developed by the Army, carried to a Pacific island by the Navy,
dropped on Japan by the Air Force. MacArthur had nothing to do with it. He
was indignant when he learned that General Eisenhower had known of the bomb
before he was told. To reporter Theodore White he said: "White, do you know
what this means?...Men like me are obsolete...There will be no more wars,
White. No more wars."
With World War II over, America's new president Harry Truman had to decide who
would take the surrender and preside over the occupation of Japan. In his
diary he derided MacArthur as "Dugout Doug", "a stuffed shift", "Mr. Prima
Donna, Brass Hat, Five Star MacArthur." But he needed him.
SCHALLER: MacArthur was considered the Republican General in the Pacific and
he, Truman, had to appease Republican sentiment by appointing him and Tokyo was
far away. It was as far away from Washington as you could get and that had
certain political advantages.
NARR: MacArthur informed Truman he would take the surrender at the American
Embassy in Tokyo. Truman informed MacArthur he was sending the battleship
On the morning of September 2, 1945, nearly 260 war ships lay at anchor in
FRANK TREMAINE, Journalist: American ships, ships of the British Fleet and a
few other ships from other nations were there as far as the eye could see
except for our aircraft carriers. They were offshore with destroyer screen,
and our patrol planes were overhead. We weren't taking any chances.
VERNON A. WALTERS, U.S. Army: When I studied Japanese as a kid, one of the
phrases in the school book was, "We, nation of 19 million, never once in battle
defeated, ruled over by a dynasty seated upon the throne since before the
beginning of the memory of men." There was no defeat in Japanese history. He
wanted to make sure the Japanese knew.
PERRET: When the Germans surrendered to Eisenhower, the thing was done in the
middle of the night. It was done more or less in private. MacArthur was not
going to have anything like that. It will be a public ceremony. It would not
be an exercise in triumphalism. It will be a quasi-religious experience,
bringing the slaughter to an end.
ROBERT W. LOVE, Naval Historian: He held that surrender off until the 2nd of
September, so that the Chinese, the British, the Russians, the Filipinos and
other occupied peoples could appear in full uniform and participate. He
understood the political importance of a grand ceremony. He also understood
the political importance of announcing that peace would be generous.
MacARTHUR: We are gathered here, representatives of the major
warring powers, to conclude a solemn agreement whereby peace may be restored.
LOVE: If you look at the line-up of Generals and Admirals on the deck of the
Missouri, these are men who had personal losses at the hands of the Japanese.
What MacArthur did was to create a ceremony of victory to show these men that
they had achieved this marvelous success, but also to show them that there was
a transition, a new peacetime period, when their behavior and their view of
Japan was going to have to become quite different.
MacARTHUR : 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.
TREMAINE: MacArthur conducted that ceremony with extreme dignity, with
carefully chosen words, but at no point said anything that could be interpreted
as gloating, interpreted as baiting a beaten enemy. I thought it was the most
dramatic, most moving ceremony I've ever witnessed.
NARR: "For me who expected the worst humiliation," diplomat Toshikazu Kase
remembered, "this was a complete surprise...For the living heroes and dead
martyrs of the war, this speech was a wreath of undying flowers...This narrow
quarter-deck was now transformed into an altar of peace."
NARR: On September 8, 1945, MacArthur arrived at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo
with a new title -- SCAP -- Supreme Commander Allied Powers. And a new
challenge -- rehabilitating and democratizing a country of 70 million people.
FRANK J. SACKTON, Aide to MacArthur: He had an enormous intellect and he threw
himself physically and emotionally into every problem no matter now small it
was. And he always sought perfection in everything.
NARR: "I tried to remember the lessons my own father had taught me...as
military governor of the Philippines," MacArthur recalled.
Arthur MacArthur, a successful reformer, had been removed after a bitter
quarrel with Washington. The new Supreme Commander faced his tasks,
"assailed," he wrote, "by the gravest misgivings."
Jean's concerns were less complicated. She wanted Arthur to have a normal life
in Tokyo. "Sergeant," as his father called him, was eight on his first
birthday in Japan but had no one to play with. Except middle aged generals.
They let him win at musical chairs.
Life improved when Charles Canada Junior arrived, the son of the General's new
CHARLES CANADA, JR., Friend of Arthur: He was very much a regular kid, but he
had a kind of presence about him that his father had. The kind of presence
where you don't have to give a verbal command or demand attention He would be
able to mold the way things were going simply by being who he was.
NARR: The Embassy was an oasis. Beyond its walls Tokyo lay in ruins.
DANIEL FINN, U.S. Army.: You could literally see almost all the way across the
city from the fire bombs. I mean it was an empty city, a deserted city. And
it was not an unusual case to have 40 or 50 people going through the trash
trying to get whatever food had been thrown away by the American troops. They
NARR: The starvation concerned MacArthur. He rounded up millions of tons of
food set aside for the invasion of Japan and began to feed the Japanese. When
Congress balked, he said he would not treat the Japanese as they had his men on
Bataan. Besides he feared riots. "Give me bread," he cabled, "or give me
bullets." American soldiers who had braced themselves for a harsh
occupation were relieved that the Japanese cooperated.
FINN, D.: They accepted the decision of the Emperor that we were not to be
harmed, and I never had one incident in which I felt apprehensive. Now we
carried arms to be sure, and in the first four or five months when there was no
lights in the city at all, it was somewhat apprehensive in terms of touring the
city. But I never had an incident and I always attributed that to the fact
that, at that time, the reverence for the Emperor was so intense that they
would not violate it.
NARR: MacArthur wanted to harness this loyalty to ensure a smooth occupation.
To use Hirohito, the god emperor in whose name the Japanese had waged war, for
his own ends.
JOHN DOWER, Historian: The concept which was very explicit in the intelligence
reports MacArthur was reading was, drive a wedge between the Emperor and the
militarists and, we must say, the militarists betrayed the Emperor, you people
now should throw allegiance to the Emperor and we can persuade him to be a
leader of democracy.
NARR: But MacArthur feared his hands would be tied by America's allies who
wanted to try the emperor as a war criminal. Washington also had not ruled that
The Japanese feared for their Emperor and began to sanitize the record.
YOSHIDA YUTAKA, Historian (VO translator): It was the beginning of the
occupation. During that two weeks, the Japanese government and military had
concentrated on destroying and hiding all important official records from
MacArthur's headquarters that might cause the Emperor to be implicated in war
NARR: As he approached the Embassy to meet MacArthur, Hirohito did not know
how much the General knew of his involvement in the war. How after the bloody
conquest of China, he had rewarded his military commanders. How he had known
in detail of the plan to attack Pearl Harbor and not moved to stop it.
He did not know if MacArthur knew that he could have prevented the
execution of captured American pilots. He did not know if MacArthur
knew that he had been informed of every Kamikaze attack on American ships and
had praised the pilots. The god emperor had no inkling of his fate
or that of his throne as he made the unprecedented move to call upon his
FAUBION BOWERS, Aide to MacArthur: MacArthur came toward to the emperor and
said, "Your Majesty, you are very welcome." And swept towards him and shook
his hand and the Emperor's hand was shaking. And then MacArthur said, tell him
that we're going to take one photograph.
CAROL GLUCK: That was a very shocking picture. There is MacArthur in an open
shirt, as the Japanese press always says, "no necktie". There is, there is
MacArthur with no necktie and towering over this little man, who is the larger,
allegedly larger than life symbol of the Japanese Empire and the descendant of
the Sun Goddess looking meek and small.
DOWER: So, on one side, this is the great symbol for the Japanese that the
Emperor is no longer the supreme power in the land. But, the other side of the
picture is much more interesting. And that is I'm standing by the Emperor.
This is the symbol that I will stand by you and that I will indeed welcome your
NARR: The two men then met alone -- with the Emperor's interpreter. MacArthur
wrote that the emperor said, "I come to you...to bear sole responsibility for
every action taken by my people in the conduct of the war."
RICHARD FINN, Historian: I would not want to say that five star General of the
Army Douglas MacArthur told a prevarication. Maybe we could say he elaborated
on the truth. I don't think the Emperor said that I'm responsible and I accept
the full blame for all that happened. I think MacArthur felt it was a nice,
it would have been nice if the Emperor did say it, and it would be very nice
for the outside world to think that he said it. And so MacArthur put those
words into his mouth.
DOWER: In fact, years later it was discovered that the Emperor's own
interpreter had kept his account of the interview, and MacArthur does all the
talking, and tells him how he knows how he's fought for peace, and how war is a
terrible thing, and how you know, he respects the Emperor. And, the Emperor
never makes any grand statement about accepting responsibility.
NARR: When the emperor departed, he was visibly more relaxed and said he hoped
to see MacArthur many more times. Imperial censors then moved to prevent
publication of the photograph. MacArthur overruled them. "As nothing else
could" a Japanese observer noted, this convinced a shocked nation "that Japan
was truly beaten." MacArthur then announced a program of sweeping
reforms -- implementing policies from Washington, initiating others, taking
credit for them all. He abolished the secret police and insisted the
press be free -- but not to criticize him. He emancipated Japanese women, and
liberalized education demanding the study of democracy. He turned over land to
the peasants who farmed it, and encouraged laborers to unionize. He
purged war time leaders and released political prisoners including hundreds of
MacArthur felt he was imposing America's Bill of Rights in a carefully
controlled revolution. Japan's conservative government complained he was
turning the country red. The Supreme Commander was in control --
but not as much as he thought.
DOWER: What happens a few months after this is an extraordinarily subtle
choreography in which the imperial court begins to invite SCAP officials -- top
military and civilian people in the Occupation Command-- to the Imperial
grounds to partake in Imperial activities. And the one that the military men,
the American military men, are so fascinated by is the Imperial duck hunt.
CANADA: I was handed this huge net that was bigger than I was and I was lead
over to a water filled channel where ducks were swimming, and I was told that I
should reach in and scoop them up and that was the whole idea of the game. So
I thought that was wonderful. I had never heard of anything like this before,
and it was absolutely grand to be able to do it.
DOWER: So there are all these top brass are running around waving their
butterfly nets and getting Imperial ducks, and there's no greater royalists in
Japan than the Americans. They love this proximity to the throne. And in this
way they're kind of brought in to this, this wonderful, gentle tradition. And
it's brilliant, it's absolutely brilliant on the part of the Japanese side, to
say, here's what we are, here's the court and here's what we really are -- a
gentle people. It's like the chrysanthemum and the sword, we're really the
chrysanthemum. The sword, that wasn't part of us.
NARR: While the palace courted MacArthur's entourage, he was working to ensure
the emperor's survival before the formation of an allied commission that might
urge his indictment as a war criminal.
In January, 1946, he wired Eisenhower, then Army Chief of Staff, that after "as
complete a research as was possible." He could find no evidence the emperor
was responsible for the war.
YOSHIDA (VO translator): The cable said the material which could prove the
Emperor's responsibility for the war could not be found and included the
warning that if the Emperor was to be indicted, the country will be in chaos.
Except, there are absolutely no records of MacArthur seriously searching for or
gathering any material relating to the Emperor and his war
NARR: MacArthur ordered his staff to draft a constitution in
one week. He wanted to present the allies with a new document
protecting the civil liberties he had introduced and preserving an emperor
stripped of power. When it was presented to foreign minister Yoshida Shigeru
and the cabinet, they were stunned to discover the Emperor had less power than
a British monarch.
BEATE SIROTA-GORDON, Constitution Drafter: The Japanese of course wanted just
the opposite. They wanted the emperor to be as strong as possible. And this is
what caused so many hours of debate. Because they looked at it from completely
different points of view. And so they started arguing about every word. Where
we wanted symbol of the state, which is a weak word, they wanted head of
GLUCK: One of them said to one of the Japanese government officials, now you
know, General MacArthur actually would like to keep the Emperor from being
tried as a war criminal. It would help him a lot if you accepted the basic
principles of this constitutional draft.
NARR: MacArthur presented another shocker. One of his earliest acts as
Supreme Commander had been to disarm Japan. He now demanded a clause in the
constitution that would prevent Japan from ever waging war again.
DOWER: Without MacArthur, there would never have been a line in the
constitution that says Japan you know, outlaws war and the rights of
belligerency of the state. These kind of things came from him and it's a quite
a remarkable grand accomplishment because here is a man who has given his life
to war, who comes in and says to them war is horrendous, we cannot do it
anymore and you Japanese have the opportunity to be a pacifist state.
NARR: The government was terrified about what the emperor
would think of MacArthur's constitution. Reluctantly, they presented it to the
HERBERT BIX, Historian: He's not happy with being an emperor
stripped of all political power, but he accepts the Constitution because this
guarantees that, whatever happens to him, the Imperial House has been
NARR: Hirohito urged legislators to accept MacArthur's constitution placing
power in the hands of the people. He would now present himself, as
MacArthur wanted to see him, as Japan's first democrat.
Conservative leaders felt the document had been rammed down their throats.
SIROTA-GORDON: Of course, the Japanese government was horrified because this
was, to them, unbelievably revolutionary. But that was the government. That
was not the people. The people were very happy. They immediately rallied to
protect the constitution in every way.
NARR: "No longer is the future to be settled by the few,"
MacArthur told the Japanese people as he urged them to vote for a new
On April 10, 1946, 3 out of 4 Japanese did vote -- including 14 million women
for the first time. A vast majority of those they voted for were committed to
the new constitution. Only six were wartime leaders. Five were communists and
"best of all", MacArthur said, there were 38 women. He had
checkmated the Allies. They could not now undo reforms validated by popular
The Japanese knew they had a new ruler and that the center of power had
shifted. Each day they watched MacArthur come and go with reverent silence.
"You have a feeling," a reporter wrote," that people almost bow when they
mention General MacArthur's name." MacArthur wanted to show that
the Japanese people accepted their new democratic emperor.
DOWER: They begin to have the Emperor travel to different places in Japan and
meet the people. The Emperor has never mixed with the people.
NEWSREEL NARR: On this precedent shattering occasion, Hirohito conversed with
many of his subjects; very different from the days when his people were even
forbidden to look upon the sacred presence.
DOWER: There was a wonderful line in the Japanese press. It says, "The
Emperor came and talked, he didn't have much to say, he looked like someone who
had just come out of a box." And, his awkwardness often took the form of him
saying Ah-so.which means, "oh is that so?" And, this was the way he responded
and it became kind of a joke.
EMPEROR: Aso, Aso
DOWER: And he's so sincere and awkward, it really conveys an image that he was
indeed a man, innocent of any war responsibility. And when you come to the year
1947, the touring Emperor's encounters with his people are more choreographed,
and they become great events, with tens and tens of thousands of people lining
the streets, and people waving the flag. And Americans watch this, foreigners
watch this, and they say, they have become victory tours.
NARR: The palace had once again parlayed a MacArthur initiative to its own
advantage. It had turned the promotion of a democratic emperor into
traditional emperor worship. MacArthur ordered the tours discontinued.
In contrast to the Emperor, the Supreme Commander's remoteness was becoming
legendary. He vowed he would never break bread with the Japanese
and, with an overwhelming workload, seldom socialized with anyone.
SACKTON: He would entertain at lunch, if he would entertain
at all. He would be back at work at 5:00 p.m. and then the real work day
started and we would be there until maybe 9:00, 9:30 p.m., if we were lucky.
If there was a problem to be solved, he would want to solve it before he quit.
This occurred seven days a week. Christmas, New Year's, anniversary dates were
NARR: In five years, MacArthur saw nothing of the country he was trying to
reform. Instead he encouraged Jean to act as his eyes and ears. She traveled
on the Imperial train.
CANADA: And when we'd get to a stop they would roll out the red carpet. And
the officials of the town would be there to greet us and we would be treated
literally like royalty. Every place we went we, they tried to entertain us and
amuse us so there was never a dull moment.
NARR: For Charles and Arthur, the most exciting trip was to Mikimoto's pearl
CANADA: They took us out in boats and we saw these young women diving for the
oysters and bringing them up in their, in their baskets and then they had a
special surprise when the meal was served. We opened the oysters and were
getting ready to eat them, but instead of the normal, what you'd expect to find
inside an oyster there would be these beautiful big pearls. And Arthur and I
fell to taking the pearls and playing marbles with them. Well it took a few
minutes for Mrs. MacArthur and my mother to realize what was going on and they
swooped down scooped up the pearls and took them away from us. Mrs. MacArthur
said, "You're living through a very special time of your life. You must savor
it because in a certain number of years we'll go back to being ordinary mortals
once we leave the occupation."
NARR: Despite MacArthur's protection, the emperor watched nervously as the
Tokyo war crimes trials unfolded. MacArthur had encouraged the palace to
finger the military leaders as the guilty ones. This tactic almost backfired.
Twenty-eight war leaders were indicted. General Tojo topped the list.
The palace had accused Tojo of abusing his power as prime minister to
authorize the attack on Pearl Harbor.
DOWER: At one moment, Tojo just frankly said, there's no way that we would
anything against the Emperor's wishes. And, the prosecution and MacArthur's
headquarters were so alarmed that they actually sent people in, to Tojo, to
tell him to make sure he corrected that statement.
NARR: In a staged cross examination, Tojo swore the emperor had always been a
man of peace and never wanted war. The emperor survived. Tojo and
six other loyal subjects were hanged.
As the trials ended in 1948, members of the Imperial Court, knowing the throne
was secure, wanted Hirohito to accept his responsibility for the war by
DOWER: MacArthur said, "No, don't abdicate." And, as a result of this, from
the Japanese perspective, you have a man who becomes America's symbol of
democracy, who is totally sanitized by the Americans and by MacArthur, in
particular, from not even expressing real responsibility for decisions, but
moral responsibility for the horrors that took place in his name. And, I
think that that poisoned the thinking about responsibility in general, in
Japan, to the present day.
BOWERS: He didn't care about the Emperor personally
except as a tool for his own magnification. MacArthur wanted the occupation
to be his last shining, glorious hour.
NARR: In March, 1947, MacArthur looked at Japan and was pleased. His land
reform had ended what he called a "system of virtual slavery" and put 90% of
the land in the hands of the farmers. Public health programs had saved
millions of lives. The progress he had made transforming Japan in
America's image was there for the world to see.
NEWSREEL NARR: Children of occupation families and Japanese youngsters alike
ride in the event. Young Arthur MacArthur uses the trick jumps to get some
trick shots. The horses don't kick over the traces, but the Emperor's children
do. Hot dogs for their Highnesses yet. Next thing they'll be wearing Bobbie
SCHALLER: I think for MacArthur, establishing a record of positive, liberal
reformist achievement in Japan was an important part of his political
resurrection in the United States. It would make up for the lapses of the
Bonus March. It would show people that he wasn't just a commander. He wasn't
just a great general but he was someone who could take a defeated nation,
democratize it, make it better than it was along an American model.
NARR: MacArthur feared a prolonged occupation could foster resentment. It was
time he said to bring the troops home and sign a peace treaty. He planned to
run for President in 1948 on his achievement in Japan.
SCHALLER: He announces that everything is fine in Japan. The only thing
that's wrong is the occupation is going on too long. The Americans can just go
home. Peace has been achieved.
NARR: The General's announcement shocked Truman. In 1947, he looked at Japan
and saw trouble. The post war economy was in shambles. Business leaders who
prospered during the war now had little incentive to rebuild; his own policy
had been to purge them and dismantle their monopolies. Labor leaders,
including communists, emboldened by MacArthur's reforms, threatened to shut the
Truman saw Japan weakened, at a time when the Soviet Union was extending its
power over Eastern Europe. And Mao Tse-tung's communists were sweeping across
China. It was no time, Truman felt, to bring the troops home.
SCHALLER: With the Cold War heating up, the Truman Administration announced
that the fundamental American security policy would be the containment of the
Soviet Union through the rebuilding of what they called the two great workshops
of Europe and Asia, Germany and Japan. That had dire implications for Douglas
MacArthur and his occupation policy. It meant, first of all, there wouldn't be
any quick end to the occupation because the American policy would now be to
continue the occupation until economic stability had been achieved. The other
thing it implied was that MacArthur had done something wrong.
NARR: Having taken credit for Washington's policies, he now took the blame.
He was accused of making Japan vulnerable to communism. MacArthur felt he
could control the communists. He also knew he had neither the time nor the
money to rebuild the economy before the elections.
NEWSREEL NARR: From his Tokyo headquarters, General Douglas MacArthur
announces that he will accept the presidency if called by the American people.
The 68-year-old pacific supreme commander adds, however, that he will not
actively seek nomination.
NARR: "The New York Times" predicted a MacArthur victory in the Wisconsin
primary. One who worked with him wondered why.
BOWERS: He was 19th century. He wasn't 20th century. And he used such
colorful words when he said, "Were I not to run for the Presidency I would be
recreant to my duty." Who uses the word recreant? And everyone ran and looked
it up in the dictionary.
NARR: In March, 1948, on the eve of the Republican primaries, Truman
dispatched Under Secretary of the Army William Draper to convince the General
to follow Washington's new plans. MacArthur ignored him.
FINN, R.: And MacArthur's view was, until he got an order from the Joint
Chiefs of Staff to do this, he wasn't going to pay any attention to it. People
in Washington could think this was a good idea but he would only do what he
thought was right to carry out the policies he previously had.
ROGER DINGMAN, Military Historian: From his perspective,
Washington's decision to reverse the policies that Washington had ordered him
to implement -- I think any human being would be resentful of that. But, I do
also think that his memory of his father's difficulties, his father's slighting
at the hands of army bureaucrats and politicians in Washington, is a crucial
factor in shaping his attitude
NARR: MacArthur had many admirers in Tokyo. Unfortunately for him, their
votes did not count. His dismal showing in Wisconsin where he was considered a
native son effectively ended his campaign. After his defeat, an aide remarked,
"The General is as low as a rug."
With MacArthur no longer a political threat, Truman sent a Detroit banker,
Joseph Dodge, to Tokyo with a title of Ambassador Extraordinary so MacArthur
could not ignore him. Dodge began to rebuild, not reform, Japan's economy and
helped the old monopolies regroup. Japan's conservative leaders
The Emperor was also losing confidence in MacArthur. Because of the General's
pacifist constitution, Hirohito feared for Japan's security and wanted U.S.
troops to remain. He began to bypass MacArthur and develop direct access to
In the late 1940s in Tokyo, General Douglas MacArthur found himself, as he had
in the late 1930s in Manila, isolated from power.
He was rescued once again by war.
On June 25, 1950, communist North Korean troops attacked South Korea across the
38th parallel. The Korean War was underway. Truman committed U.S. forces.
MacArthur would command them. When the United Nations joined the war, he
became UN commander.
DAVID MCCULLOUGH, Truman Biographer: Harry Truman didn't like the kind of
general MacArthur was. He saw him as a show-off. He didn't like the bravado,
the theatrical kind of general that MacArthur was. But he certainly
recognized MacArthur's ability.
NARR: At age 70, Douglas MacArthur was in a major war for the third time in
his life. He rushed to the front all that he had -- ill equipped and out of
shape occupation forces. They were no match for Soviet built tanks and well
trained North Korean troops. Within a month, the U.S. Eighth Army had
retreated to a defensible line around the port of Pusan.
HARRY J. MAIHAFER, U.S. Army: We were under-strength, we were under-equipped.
We were really struggling to hang on for our lives. But we just had this
feeling that MacArthur, back in Tokyo, he knows what's happening and somehow
he's going to do something to help.
NARR: Before MacArthur could rescue his entrapped army, he got embroiled in an
argument with Truman that almost cost him his job.
When Chinese Nationalists, America's World War II allies, lost the civil war,
they fled to the island of Formosa, later called Taiwan. MacArthur was
dismayed when Truman said the U.S. would not defend Formosa.
When the Korean war broke out, Truman wanted to defend Formosa -- but without
provoking the communists. He sent veteran diplomat Averell Harriman to Tokyo
to make sure MacArthur understood. MacArthur did, Harriman told Truman, "but
without full conviction." He told a diplomat in Tokyo that "one of these days
he intended to blast [Truman's State Department] wide open."
WALTERS: He regarded the people in Washington as very timorous and very unable
to reach decisions. And he felt that Washington needed decision and he knew no
one better than he who could provide better decisions than MacArthur. This is
NARR: MacArthur tried to nudge Truman toward an aggressive defense of Formosa
in a letter to a veterans group. Truman was livid at MacArthur's meddling in
policy and considered firing him. But he backed off. It was a critical
moment in the war. MacArthur was about to embark on a bold plan to free his
beleaguered army. He would land behind enemy lines at the Port of Inchon and
cut North Korea's supply lines. The Eighth Army could then break out of its
enclave around Pusan. When Harriman was in Tokyo, MacArthur had asked him for
the forces he would need.
WALTERS: MacArthur said to Harriman, "I cannot believe that a great nation
like the United States cannot give me these few paltry reinforcements for which
I ask. Tell the President that if he gives them to me, I will land at Inchon
on the rising tide at daybreak on the 15th of September. And between the
hammer of this landing and the anvil of the Eighth army, I will shatter and
destroy the armies of North Korea."
NARR: The Joint Chiefs were nervous about the plan. They flew to Tokyo to
express their concerns.
ALEXANDER M. HAIG, JR, Aide to MacArthur: The Chiefs all had their say. And
at the end MacArthur took that corn-cob pipe out of his mouth and clanked it
into the ashtray, stood up and he said, "Gentlemen, I will be landing in Inchon
this September or you will have another commander."
NARR: On the same day, August 23, China's Chairman Mao studied a military
assessment of MacArthur. It stressed his genius -- and his arrogance.
CHEN JIAN: Mao say, okay. Was he arrogant, stubborn? That is fine. The
more arrogant, the more stubborn he is the better because an arrogant and
stubborn enemy is easy to defeat.
NARR: On September 13, 1950, MacArthur's armada headed for the Port of Inchon.
With its narrow channel and mud. That is what worried the Joint Chiefs. At
low tide, the harbor is a mud flat. Three miles of mud flat. A landing force
would be stranded for almost 12 hours until the next high tide. It was a risky
-- but unlikely place for a landing. As in World War II, he would "hit 'em
where they ain't."
Despite his confidence, he confessed to an aide the plan was a tremendous
gamble. He headed for shore, a destroyer captain observed, "in a Napoleonic
pose." He was nauseous when he got there.
MAIHAFER: And, we thought, how in the world did he manage to gather together a
force and it was a real lifting of our spirits down south and, of course, that
broke the pressure and we were able then to start driving north. And, it was
just the greatest feeling that suddenly the tide had turned and when we had
been, just days before, fighting for our lives.
NARR: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Omar Bradley called the landing a "dazzling
victory." MacArthur's forces recaptured South Korea's capital, Seoul, within
days. Then headed north for the 38th parallel. The UN's original mandate was
to restore South Korea. Now it became reunify Korea -- provided there was no
major Soviet or Chinese intervention. MacArthur crossed the 38th parallel.
MCCULLOUGH: And Truman supported it. They were, as we would say, pumped up.
They were excited. Victory was very close. It was standard military doctrine
that you, you chase and destroy the enemy's army, and that's what they were
going to do when they crossed that parallel.
NARR: MacArthur was told that only South Korean troops could
approach the Yalu River, the border with China. He bridled at such
interference from Washington. MacArthur "spat blood" at Secretary of State
Dean Acheson, a British diplomat, wired London.
CHEN JIAN: Not only they cross the 38th parallel they were
marching toward the Chinese-Korean border. Who should believe, who can believe
that they would stop at the Chinese-Korean border?
NARR: The day after UN forces crossed into North Korea Truman requested a
meeting with MacArthur.
WALTERS: MacArthur said, "It's very important, it's a very crucial stage of
the war and I don't want to go that far away." So Truman offered to go halfway
and someone brought up Wake Island, which is much more than halfway. It's
about two-thirds of the way.
MCCULLOUGH: Truman, I think, surely knew that MacArthur looked down at him.
MacArthur looked down at just about everybody, but particularly Harry Truman
who he saw as this reserve captain from World War I and a little small time
politician. What did he know?
NARR: "I've a whale of a job before me," Truman wrote from the plane. "Have to
talk to God's right-hand man tomorrow."
In 1944, FDR had met the hero of the Pacific several months before Presidential
elections. Truman would meet the hero of Inchon -- just weeks before
JOSEPH C. HARSCH, Journalist: MacArthur was at the foot of the ramp, waiting
for Truman, when he came down.
WALTERS: And when Mr. Truman stepped on the ground, MacArthur shook hands with
him, very effusively, as did Truman. I did notice that he had not saluted him
which struck me as somewhat odd.
HARSCH: But he didn't do it. No, he didn't salute his Commander in Chief, and
Harry Truman noticed that.
WALTERS: I don't think it was intended as disrespectful. I think he never
saluted first. Everybody always saluted him, so he returned the salute. But
he was not in the habit of saluting first. There was nobody to salute, not the
Emperor, not anybody. And then they got into the car.
NARR: One Secret Service agent remembered the two chatted without rancor.
Another claimed Truman bawled out MacArthur -- I'm the Commander-in-chief,
you're just a general. Remember that. Why do you insist on going into China?
We don't want to do that. The general session took place in a communications
WALTERS: And President Truman said, "General MacArthur, I'm very concerned
with the Chinese massing troops along the border. Do you think they will
intervene?" To which the reply was, "Mr. President, this is not the hour of
our weakness. This is the hour of our strength. If the Chinese cross the
Yalu, I will make of them the greatest slaughter in the history of warfare.
They have no means for giving ground ... air support to the ground troops. And
they cannot do it and I do not believe they will."
LOVE: MacArthur had a reasonable estimation that a Chinese army crossing the
Yalu might be poorly commanded -- although skilled in guerrilla warfare --would
not be skilled against American air, against American heavy artillery
concentrations, against American armor and against American tactical infantry.
DINGMAN: And, of course, one has to remember, the psychology of it, he's a
victorious general. He's just reversed the tide of the war. The force is with
him, in a way, and he believed that it would continue, if only you persisted
just a little bit longer.
WALTERS: President Truman asked General MacArthur when he thought the war
would be over. General MacArthur replied that he didn't know but he thought it
would be over by Christmas and that he would be able to give two divisions for
NATO in Europe in the new ... by the beginning of the new year.
MCCULLOUGH: Truman, very understandable, accepts that, believes it, why
shouldn't he? And MacArthur believed it. It wasn't that MacArthur was trying
to pull something over the President's head or to speak irresponsibly.
CHEN JIAN: The Chinese troops, which crossed the Yalu in October, were the
best units of the Peoples Liberation Army, but they were under the name of the
Chinese Peoples Volunteers. Mao believed that this would reduce the
possibility of a formal war between China and the United States.
NARR: On October 24, 1950, MacArthur ordered his commanders "to drive forward
with all speed" for the Yalu River.
HAIG: As we were moving north, towards the Yalu, we began to confront
organized units of regular Chinese Forces, and we would immediately report that
back to Tokyo and we would be reassured that no, this was not that at all.
These were volunteers and they were token volunteers and they shouldn't ah
disconcert us too much.
NARR: MacArthur ordered an air campaign to "lay waste" the Korean side of the
Yalu River. The Chinese, it seemed, were a threat. Fearing a wider war,
Truman began to reign in his commander. He prohibited air strikes within five
miles of the border unless MacArthur's forces were in immediate danger. The
hero of Inchon said they were in danger.
On the eve of the Congressional elections, he threatened to hold Truman
responsible for "American blood" that would flow from "every hour" of delay.
The Air Force began to encounter Soviet MIG fighters based in China. MacArthur
wanted to chase them into China and destroy their bases. Truman again said no
and considered stopping UN troops well short of the Yalu River.
MacArthur had successfully badgered Washington in World War II. "I recommend
with all the earnestness I possess," his cable now read, "that we press on to
complete victory." Once again, MacArthur got his way.
After two weeks, the Chinese attacks suddenly stopped. The lull in the battle
VOICE OF ALAN JACKSON, CBS Radio: "This Thanksgiving Day was sparkled with
rumors of possible peace in Korea. There are a certain number of facts behind
the rumors. There has been the unexplained withdrawal of the Chinese troops.
UN forces advanced anywhere (fade under) from one to five...
NARR: The Eighth Army headed for the Yalu. On the other side of what
MacArthur thought were impenetrable mountains, the Marines headed for a
reservoir they called frozen Chosin.
CHEN JIAN: At this point, the Chinese were playing with MacArthur's arrogance
by creating a kind of image that the UN forces under MacArthur's command was
winning a military victory, Actually the Chinese troops were preparing some
deadly traps for MacArthur's forces.
NARR: MacArthur flew to the front to witness the final offensive. His
communiqué that day read: "This should for all practical purposes end
the war." On November 26th more than 300,000 Chinese and North Korean troops
streamed out of the mountains and fell upon the UN forces.
SUMNER: We got to the Yalu River sure enough. We found, like Custer, where
did all these Chinese come from? The hills were black with these people. I've
never seen so many people in all of my life. It was a very frightening
NARR: The entire UN front was in disarray. Douglas MacArthur faced his
biggest defeat since his forces surrendered on Bataan almost nine years before.
Once again he felt it personally.
HAIG: MacArthur had a very keen feeling for the West Point graduates. Their
attrition rate was astonishing. About a third of the class, I think of 1950,
was killed in that conflict. He would always ask me what about Trant, what
about Tom Lombardo. These were company commanders and platoon leaders that
were great Army football players at West Point. And I knew when I'd have to
tell him, well Tom was killed today. He would get tears in his eyes and have
to go back to his office and then resume the briefing later.
NARR: Arthur was almost 13 that Christmas of 1950. He would have known how
much his father revered West Point, how much his father looked forward to his
being sworn in as a cadet. He would have known that he had been named for a
grandfather who had been the highest ranking officer in the U.S. Army. His
father had encouraged him in riding lessons, his mother in music lessons --
which he preferred.
That Christmas, he gave one of his concerts which included compositions of his
own. As usual the embassy staff and their families attended, as did his
CANADA: I never thought about the fact that the General had all these
incredible demands on his time, but he never missed one. He would make time,
no matter how late it was at night he would come in and tuck us in and talk to
us about how our day had gone and I think those visits in the evening, even
though it might be late, made up for a lot. We'd tell him these trivial
things that we had done and whether we had a cub scout meeting, whether we'd
play cowboys and Indians. It didn't make any difference how inconsequential it
would be in the grand scheme of things, he wanted to hear it.
NARR: MacArthur spared Arthur the strains he was under. But not Jean. "I
feel as if the walls are closing in on me," she confided to a friend. "It
seemed that she was likely to collapse," her friend wrote. "She lost weight.
She couldn't sleep. She picked at her food." She suffered for her husband.
He was flying to Korea more often and working longer hours. As 1951 began,
Douglas MacArthur, almost 71, was fighting the battle of his life.
After the Chinese offensive in late November, his forces began a 300 mile
retreat -- the longest in U.S. military history. He asked Washington for
reinforcements. He wanted to use Chinese troops from Formosa in Korea and on
the Chinese mainland. He wanted to blockade China's ports and bomb its
industrial base. Truman refused all of this. He decided not to expand the
MCCULLOUGH: I think it was one of the most important decisions of the whole
Truman second term. They decided what was going to be the policy from then on,
a limited war. Because they're deathly afraid understandably and rightly, of
this flaring up into a world war. And by then of course, the Soviet Union had
the atomic bomb.
NARR: MacArthur told the press the restrictions on him were a "handicap
without precedent in military history."
"General MacArthur as usual has been shooting off his mouth," Truman wrote in
DINGMAN: The more people that President Truman sent out from
Washington to talk to General MacArthur, the more General MacArthur became
convinced that Washington didn't have an end plan, an end game, that its sense
of how to end the war, simply wasn't clear enough, to provide the direction a
military man needed to conduct the war.
NARR: MacArthur threatened Washington with a dire choice: his
forces, which had retreated below the 38th parallel, faced annihilation or
evacuation to Japan unless he could expand the war. He had a new field
commander in 1951, General Matthew Ridgway. Ridgway was more optimistic. He
accepted Washington's restrictions, rallied the troops and headed north.
EDWIN H. SIMMONS, Marine Historian: Ridgway took hold of the Eighth Army,
grabbed it by the throat, gave it a good shake, and straightened it out. He
reformed a line across the peninsula from one coast to the other, and then he
began a deliberate, buttoned-up offensive a step at a time: good artillery
support, good air support, identify your objectives and take them.
NARR: Ridgway exposed as false MacArthur's choice of annihilation or
evacuation. The Pentagon began to look to him for military assessments, to
regard MacArthur as a "prima donna figurehead who had to be tolerated."
In February, Ridgway ordered a big offensive toward Seoul. MacArthur told
reporters he had ordered the offensive. Ridgway saw this as "an unwelcome
reminder" of MacArthur's need "to keep his public image always glowing."
In March, the Eighth Army, under Ridgway, recaptured Seoul. Then headed for
the 38th parallel. For Truman and the allies, that was enough. They would go
no farther north. They settled for the UN's original mandate, restoring South
Korea. Truman prepared to make a cease fire offer to China.
DINGMAN: General MacArthur faced the prospect politicians have decided to end
the war in a position where militarily we are not necessarily where we would
like to be. How is this going to happen? What should we do?
PERRET: Just recapturing Seoul and moving back, getting back to the 38th
parallel, does not remove the military threat to South Korea.
NARR: In Tokyo, one observer found MacArthur "tired and depressed." In Korea
another thought he was "exhausted...a beaten man." He had been humiliated by
the Chinese, proved wrong by Ridgway, marginalized by the Pentagon. And now
Truman wanted to sue for peace, to thwart an expanded war with China which he,
MacArthur, would direct from Tokyo.
"Perhaps this realization," General Bradley wrote, "snapped his brilliant but
Others felt he responded not with a cracked but a calculating
mind. One was a longtime aide, General Courtney Whitney.
SACKTON: It is the assessment of General Whitney that General MacArthur
felt this was the time to leave the service because he felt so strongly about
the issue. And, what was the issue? The issue was winning the war.
SUMNER: MacArthur went public, and he forced, practically forced Truman
to relieve him.
NARR: MacArthur went public with his own peace proposal. He threatened
China with "imminent" destruction then envisioned a peace that suggested a
settlement at the Yalu. But not by diplomats. MacArthur himself would meet
the Chinese commander in the field, as great men did in centuries past. Truman
viewed MacArthur's statement as "premeditated sabotage" and decided to fire him
when the time was right. He would not have to wait long.
Two weeks later, House Minority Leader, Joseph Martin, made public a letter
from MacArthur endorsing Martin's desire to use troops from Formosa. "There
is," MacArthur warned, "no substitute for victory." He wanted to win as he had
won in two world wars. He worried that fighting at an indefensible line could
be endless. What he feared is what happened. The war, then nine months old,
would continue as a stalemate for more than two years. America would suffer
another 50,000 casualties.
MacArthur's quarrel with Truman was about more than the goals of the war. It
was about who should be in charge. His father had told him he must do what was
right for his country, no matter what the personal sacrifice might be.
HAIG: Blind loyalty to a commander of a unit or even a President must be
overwhelmed by one's subjective perception of the best interest of the people.
And I think MacArthur was driven by that. I happen to think it's the right
solution. It can be very costly to an individual.
MCCULLOUGH: He was forgetting what he had learned at West Point, that the
Commander in Chief is the supreme commander. And he told Samuel Eliot
Morrison, the historian, that he didn't agree with that. He thought that in
the field the general should decide, that only he knew the situation. And when
Morrison seemed a little surprised he said it a second time just to be sure
that Morrison knew that he wasn't being misquoted.
NARR: For Truman, the letter to Congressman Martin was "the last straw". When
he got word MacArthur might resign, he was heard to say, "The son of a bitch
isn't going to resign on me. He's going to be fired."
PRESIDENT TRUMAN, April 11, 1951: I considered it essential to relieve General
MacArthur so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose
and aim of our policy.
CANADA: A group of us were sitting around the embassy and the announcement
came. All our lives as we know it had just ended, and the overall atmosphere
was one of stunned silence for the longest period of time, and I think the
General must have summoned up every bit of stoicism that he possessed because
his, he didn't react at all.
NARR: Jean had often told Arthur, "Their privileged life would some day end,
and they would be mortals once again." As MacArthur lost his supreme command,
his former aide Dwight Eisenhower assumed one -- at NATO.
Vernon Walters was with him in Germany when a reporter broke the news.
WALTERS: He said, "General Eisenhower, the President has just fired General
MacArthur for insubordination. Do you have any comment?" And Eisenhower
smiled a strange smile, and then he said, "Well, you know, when you put on a
uniform, you impose certain restrictions on yourself as to what you can do and
NARR: In Tokyo, the Emperor called upon MacArthur one last time. He overruled
his advisors who said an emperor never visits a person without rank, as
MacArthur now was. For the first time MacArthur walked the emperor to his car.
Ordinary Japanese were in shock.
"We feel as if we have lost a kind and loving father," a Tokyo paper wrote.
TREMAINE: He had become I wouldn't say beloved perhaps, but highly respected
by the Japanese and they were sorry to see him go. And the streets were lined
with people, five or six deep.
NARR: The Japanese did not believe anyone was in a position to fire MacArthur.
"His dismissal," a Japanese scholar argued, "was the best lesson in democracy
Japan ever had."
TREMAINE: General MacArthur was wearing that same old Philippine Army Field
Marshal's cap. When he got to the top of the stairs, he turned and you'd think
he was a conquering hero. Not at all a demeanor of a man who'd just been
fired. And he entered the airplane with this farewell.
NARR: MacArthur had planned a leisurely trip home by boat until Republicans
urged him to rush back and address a joint session of Congress.
MacARTHUR: I have just left your fighting sons in Korea. It was my constant
effort to preserve them and end this savage conflict honorably and with the
least loss of time and a minimum sacrifice of life. Its growing bloodshed has
caused me the deepest anguish and anxiety. Those gallant men will remain often
in my thoughts and in my prayers always.
NARR: MacArthur's reception in Manhattan the next day was the greatest in U.S.
history. It far surpassed Eisenhower's in 1945. Mail that flooded Congress
was overwhelmingly against Truman. "Nothing," historians have noted, "had so
stirred the political passions of the country since the Civil War."
MacArthur testified for three days in Senate hearings. He belittled the risks
of a wider war. Had one occurred, he said the responsibility would have rested
with Washington not with him. "He seemed," a Senator noted, "to be making
Truman's case." He told Congress that George Marshall and the Joint Chiefs
supported his strategy.
When they denied this, support for the old soldier in Congress began to fade.
For a year he toured the country giving speeches.
MACARTHUR: The policies of appeasement on which we are now embarked carry
within themselves the very incitation to war against us...Never before has a
soldier been called to a rostrum such as this.
NARR: By the time he got to the 1952 Republican convention, popular support
for his risky win the war program had faded. Another five star general was the
PERRET: MacArthur's reaction to Eisenhower's, nomination was one of complete
contempt. He did not believe for a moment that someone who had once been his
subordinate could possibly discharge a responsibility that he, himself, had
NARR: Shortly after he returned, the General took Arthur to West Point. The
uniform did not appear to fit. "As a youngster," MacArthur wrote the football
coach, Arthur "saw more of war and death than many soldiers. I have wondered
whether it has left a scar on him."
After he graduated from school in New York, Arthur went to Columbia and studied
literature, opera and the theater.
BETH DAY ROMULO, Friend of Jean MacArthur: He didn't care anything about
shooting and war and didn't want any part of it. He didn't want to be a hero.
He wanted to play the piano, possibly act. Those were the things that
NARR: His father had spent a lifetime seeking publicity. Arthur has sought to
avoid it. The MacArthurs moved into the Waldorf Towers in New York and became
a magnet for world leaders. When she was on her own, Jean continued to keep
the General's flame alive. She stopped seeing visitors in 1997 -- at age 98.
MAIHAFER: It was only a couple of years before his death. It was at a New
York hotel and I happened to be invited to this luncheon. And suddenly I
looked down the corridor, and I saw, here came General MacArthur, and he looked
at me and I guess he noticed the Combat Infantry Badge and the Purple Heart and
the Silver Star, and certainly he noticed the Korean Service Medal. And,
instead of just walking on past, he put out his hands and took hold of my
shoulders and just shook them. And, God even today I get chills when I think
of that. And, that's the magic of MacArthur.
MacARTHUR: Today marks my final roll call with you. But I want you to know my
last conscious thought will be the corps, and the corps and the corps.
NARR: MacArthur died at age 84, two years after his last visit to his beloved
West Point. For five days tens of thousands of mourners paid tribute.
Eisenhower and Truman were not among them. Prime Minister Yoshida of Japan
LOVE: Four great people in Asia consider him an immense national hero.
That's an extraordinary thing for an American. It was a life enormously well
led. He got up in the morning trying to do good for his country. He took the
notions of honor and duty seriously.
SCHALLER: One colleague during the Pacific War described him as someone who
combined a sense of courage, vanity, ego, insight, but his greatest fault, he
said, was some one who mistook his emotions and ambitions for principles, and
he could never distinguish between the two.
NARR: MacArthur had had time to think about where he would be buried. West
Point was special to him. He would be there, in time, at the edge of the
Plain. Across from the best clerk he ever had, Ike, who never led a charge.
Pleased no doubt that he occupied more real estate than Eisenhower.
Acknowledging, perhaps, the prominence accorded Washington.
There was room at West Point -- next to the son of President Ulysses S. Grant.
But for Douglas MacArthur sons of Presidents was not Presidential enough. He
accepted a site that gave him the equivalent of a Presidential library. With a
museum, an archive, a gift shop, and a splendid place to rest. With room for
Jean beside him.
Douglas MacArthur was buried as he was born -- to the sound of bugles. His
funeral was replete with all the ceremony that he had come to cherish as a boy
at the army post at Ft. Selden, New Mexico. Unlike his father, he was buried
in his army uniform.
On April 11, 1964, one of the greatest soldiers in the history of the United
States Army was buried in Norfolk, Virginia.
A Navy town.