Truman and MacArthur: The Winding Road to Dismissal
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS COMBAT STUDIES INST
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The Truman-MacArthur command interaction went through three stages in the Korean War. Stage 1, from the onset of the conflict in late June 1950 to the Inchon operation in late September, was one of implicit bargaining and compromise. Stage 2, from late September to Chinas full-scale intervention in late November, was one of de facto abdication by the president. The military commander, Commander in Chief Far East CINCFE, made policy as recalled Richard Neustadt, then a member of the White House staff Truman passively awaited the outcome of MacArthurs plans for victory. In Stage 3, after China pushed the United Nations forces back from the Yalu River, Truman handled MacArthur as best he could by ignoring the CINCFEs outbursts against his policy war and shifting operational authority for the war to the commander of the Eighth Army and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The general might snipe and complain to the press, even sabotage potential peace negotiations in late March 1951, without provoking the president toward the confrontation he long tired to avoid. In early April, MacArthur, very frustrated with his status and the stalemate in the war, wrote an embittered letter to Congressman Joe Martin, the leader of the Republican opposition in the House, that seemed to brand the general as a partisan politician at least in Trumans eyes. One could argue that MacArthur had thereby done what only he could do, ensure his dismissal from command.
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