Truman Vs Macarthur Essay Writer

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Anonymous asked: Why did Truman fire MacArthur? Was he justified in doing so? How popular was the decision?

General MacArthur had been increasingly insubordinate and making statements that seemed to criticize the policies set forth by the Truman Administration.  General MacArthur had very little respect for President Truman as a political leader and especially as Commander-in-Chief.  When the Chinese jumped into the Korean War to support North Korea, MacArthur called for a total war against China despite fears that it would trigger World War III.  President Truman made it clear that the United States was not looking to engage in an all-out war with China and General MacArthur openly disagreed with the Administration’s policy.

The President had made it clear that MacArthur shouldn’t make any statements on foreign policy without clearing it first with Truman or the State Department.  General MacArthur directly ignored that order and didn’t hesitate to speak his mind or criticize the Administration’s policy in Asia even though he was already on thin ice.  President Truman worried about the repercussions of dismissing MacArthur, but he was even more worried about the perception that the the civilian leadership of the military – a hallmark of our system – was slipping away and that MacArthur was bypassing the proper chain of command.

The President was absolutely justified in firing MacArthur.  A soldier – especially the commanding general in a time of war – cannot disrespect or disregard the orders of the Commander-in-Chief.  President Truman needed to show that he couldn’t be bullied or ignored by one of his generals, and it was important to demonstrate who was in charge.

The decision wasn’t popular at all.  While most of Truman’s aides supported his decision and the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave him tepid support, the American people were outraged because General MacArthur was enormously popular.  Congress took advantage of MacArthur’s popularity and Truman’s low approval ratings (which had been falling even before the feud with MacArthur) to hammer the President and invited the General to speak to a joint session of Congress.  When MacArthur arrived back in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people turned out to give their support to him, and it was thought that MacArthur might be a potential Presidential candidate in 1952, but Dwight Eisenhower stepped into that role instead.  Senator Bob Taft suggested that Truman should be impeached and the disapproval of Truman’s handling of the Korean War and the dismissal of MacArthur led to Truman setting a record for lowest approval rating since polling started tracking Presidential approval ratings.  A few months after Truman fired MacArthur, the President’s approval rating was actually lower than Richard Nixon’s in the midst of Watergate.  Truman probably wouldn’t have ran for President in 1952 anyway, but his unpopularity made the decision to retire an easy choice.

With that said, Truman made the right move and protected the power and duties of the Presidency by putting his foot down and not allowing General MacArthur get away with insubordination.  As more years passed, Truman’s dismissal of MacArthur was seen much in the same way that Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon was – a politically damaging act that was also the correct decision.

I know I rambled a bit with my answer (I’m really tired), so if you want a simple and direct explanation of why President Truman dismissed General MacArthur, Truman gave his side of the manner in plain, trademark Truman language while he enjoyed his retirement in Missouri in the 1960s:

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

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