Douglas Macarthur Korean War



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General Douglas MacArthur is probably best known for his role in the Korean War, his last military assignment. By unanimous decision, the Joint Chiefs of Staff appointed General Douglas MacArthur Commander of the United Nations and South Korean forces to resist the takeover of South Korea by communistic North Korea. At the same time Douglas MacArthur worked in Korea, he also retained his command of the Allied Forces in Japan.

After the end of World War II, communist movement continued in Asia resulting in tension with non-communist countries. The first conflict to arise was in Korea in 1950 when the armed forces from northern Korea, under Russian supervision after World War II, invaded the U.S. supervised southern part of Korea. Fearing communist takeover, the U.S. and its allies elected to defend the south through the United Nations. By the time General Douglas MacArthur got troops and equipment organized, North Korea had forced the South Korean army into the most southern part of the peninsula.

In September 1950, General MacArthur, in Korea, supervised one of the most brilliant amphibious attacks in the history of war, all behind the North Korean troops at Inchon. This attack almost won the war for South Korea. However, General Douglas MacArthur underestimated the Chinese and their threat of intervention when MacArthur pushed the North Koreans almost into Chinese territory. In November 1950, the Chinese counterattacked South Korean and UN Forces which resulted in a devastation of several divisions of military troops, including the U.S. Second Division. The attack forced the remaining UN command to retreat southward or be totally destroyed.

In January 1951, the People's Republic of China (PRC) made overtures toward a peaceful settlement between the two Koreas in exchange for a seat in the United Nations. President Truman encouraged the UN to deny the request and any offers of peace from the PRC, because the U.S. considered Formosa to be the government of China, not the communists. Truman, however, was working with his advisors to draft a cease-fire agreement with the PRC in an effort to prevent "widening the war," as MacArthur wanted to do by bombing China. The president ordered General MacArthur in Korea to refrain from making any public statements about the conflict.

But, despite the presidential order, General Douglas MacArthur had his own plan. In March 1951, without discussing the plan with Washington, he made the following public statement:

The enemy, therefore, must by now be painfully aware that a decision of the United States

to depart from its tolerant effort to contain the war to the areas of Korea, through an expansion

of our military operations to his coastal areas and interior bases, would doom Red China to the

rise of imminent military collapse.

After other conflicts in their opinions regarding military strategy during MacArthur's tenure with the Korean War, and in consultation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and with their approval, President Truman fired General MacArthur on April 11, 1951 for insubordination, ending his role in the Korean War and his military career. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had hearings on the validity of General MacArthur's firing, but the president's decision was upheld.

In his acceptance speech of the Thayer Award at West Point in 1962, General Douglas MacArthur coined the phrase "Duty, honor, country" to outline his opinion about what a military career must embrace. He continued by saying, "Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be," referring to the West Point Cadets to whom he was speaking.