Maybe MacArthur should have faded away sooner

Maybe MacArthur should have faded away sooner Writer At Large Bob Karolevitz I just finished reading The Coldest Winter, a book about the Korean War by the late David Halberstam â�?�? and Iâ�?�?m glad my father wasnâ�?�?t around to read it. Mostly it was about generals â�?�? and other officers who conducted the war on our side and screwed it up unmercifully. Dad loved Gen. Douglas MacArthur â�?�? along with millions of other Americans â�?�? but he didnâ�?�?t come out that way on Halberstamâ�?�?s typewriter. When President Harry Truman fired him for insubordination, Time magazine wrote that â�?�?Seldom has a more unpopular man fired a more popular one.â�? When MacArthur left Japan, something like 250,000 Nipponese, many of them weeping, lined the streets at his departure. He was greeted by huge crowds in Hawaii, though he arrived after midnight. The same thing happened in San Francisco at a late hour. He like to play God, and according to Halberstam, he thought he was. I didnâ�?�?t have the heart to tell Dad that when he came ashore on Luzon â�?�? where I was awaiting to join his infamous Eighth Army â�?�? that a military photographer had preceded him in order to record the triumphant return of the vainglorious hero. Everything was staged to show him off as the gallant knight who returned as he said he would. He ran the war in Korea from the comforts of the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo while his soldiers were fighting in minus 40 degree temperatures. His superb landing in Inchon was enough to get him remembered in military annals â�?�? but after that, everything ran downhill. His alter ego in Korea â�?�? Gen. Ned Almond â�?�? sent his faulty intelligence from the field depicting a lesser number of â�?�?laundry menâ�? â�?�? as he called them derisively â�?�? then were actually there. He split up units to the detriment of success, all to make MacArthur look better. Itâ�?�?s hard to say who was the worst culprit! But it all fell back on MacArthur who was the guy in charge. He comes out in Halberstamâ�?�?s book as the main reason why the war was so badly run. Oh, there were heroes, too, like Col. Paul Freeman (later n general), Sgt. Sam Mace and a whole host of others. The authors lauds Gen. Matt Ridgeway, who replaced MacArthur â�?�? and who turned the war around. Perhaps MacArthurâ�?�?s biggest fault was his belief that China would not enter the war. And after he was fired and three days of testimony before the combined Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, MacArthurâ�?�?s magic bubble burst. No longer would the people look to him as the future president of the United States. He flopped as the keynote speaker at the Republican convention â�?�?�? and after that he just faded away, as he had said earlier at an earlier speech before a joint House and Senate meeting. He was a general then, not another politician in civies. As a member of Gen. James Van Fleetâ�?�?s public information unit, I wrote my own history of the war for the Army Times. I didnâ�?�?t even mention Ned Almond and I probably gave Gen. MacArthur more credit than he deserved. At least Dad would have been proud of me then â�?�? but I learned a lot from The Coldest Winter that I didnâ�?�?t know before! David Halberstam â�?�? who wrote The Best and the Brightest, The Unfinished Odessey of Robert Kennedy, and many more â�?�? died in an automobile accident five days after putting the finishing touches on The Coldest Winter. He was enroute to interview Y. A. Tittle for his 22nd book (a football tome). �?© 2008 Robert F. Karolevitz

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