GEN. DOUGLAS MacArthur, 5-STAR GENERAL Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces is often credited for winning World War II for the Americans and allies.
Proud as a conquering Roman emperor but cunning as General Patton, MacArthur arrived in the Red Beach, Palo, Leyte on October 20, 1944, with one historian noting the great earlier battle involving 211 Allied warships, 1,300 warplanes and the bringing in of 300,000 troops.
Addressing the nation that day, the West Point graduate boomed at the Leyte beach ” People of the Philippines, I have returned” – keeping his promise before he left his devastated troops in 1941 before the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor.
Whether for tactical strategy, he had earlier leaked a plan to attack first via the Lingayen Gulf in Luzon and then liberate Manila before the Leyte invasion. They also wisely disseminated information (making sure it reached the enemy) that the liberation of the Philippines would start in Mindanao, a natural entry since most of the Japanese troops were located there. That fooled the Japanese and made Leyte their weak underbelly.
The relentless onslaught led to the formal surrender of General F, Yamashita in Baguio City and after American atomic bombers pulverized the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, it brought the world war to an end.
The General was made in charge of the rehabilitation of devastated Japan where he allegedly showed Marxist tendencies of dispossessing the rich and the powerful to favor the poor.
Some political analysts credited the brilliant prophetic mind of MacArthur in seeing the possible pernicious spread of communism in Europe, Asia and Africa. Assigned to Korea to oversee the worsening Korean War- he had advised for “total war” and reasoned that “World War III” had already begun, perhaps drunk with hubris of his military victories.
The Soviet Union was trying to spread globally the doctrine of Communism to China, Eastern Europe, Africa, Korea and Vietnam. To contain the spread of the Red Virus, he reportedly proposed to drop nuclear bombs along the borders of China “where no living being can inhabit for the next 100 years”.
He also proposed to attack China, fight the North Koreans and prevent Vietnam from collapsing to the Reds. He even envisioned using, among others, the nationalist soldiers in Formosa (Taiwan) to help wage the war.
If that had happened, the Vietnam War would perhaps not have escalated, the Korean War minimized and the widespread indoctrination of China into the communist ideology would have been contained. This would have perhaps prevented the escalation of the communist view to patently dethrone capitalist democracies in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines.
Beginning the 1950’s, peasant, labor and student movements in the Philippines were mouthing either the Mao Tse Tung version or the Marxist-Leninist version of the communist ideology in fighting against the government with arms. In fact, it was the left-leaning NPAs that Marcos used as a reason to declare Martial Law in 1972.
MacArthur’s radical dissection of the Red Menace was opposed in Washington by the incumbent president Harry Truman who fired the general in 1951 for “insubordination”.
Truman wanted a Cold War approach to containment and believed rightly that America was not prepared for another world war after ending one in 1945.
Seventy percent of the Americans, however, backed MacArthur and gave the general a hero’s welcome when he returned to Washington and testified in Congress. Truman’s popularity dipped to 22% -even lower than when president Richard Nixon was about to be impeached for the Watergate Scandal. Truman did not even submit his name for reelection in 1952.
MacArthur, who also wanted to be president did not succeed in the Republican Convention. He retired quietly from public view and in his farewell speech, he immortalized the saying that “Generals never die, they just fade away.”
Today, close to 70 years after MacArthur was fired- Communist China is now a superpower in economics and military force and Russia though dismembered is still a nation to reckon with – with a strong-willed leader in Vladimir Putin. The Vietnam War has ended but communist North Korea continues to issue saber-rattling messages against the West and firing missiles in the air. The Philippines still has the longest-running insurgency fueled by communist doctrines and tactics.
What would have happened if America had agreed to MacArthur’s strategy to violent containment of Communism? Would our world be able to sleep better in this age and century?
The Conflict between The General and the President in 1951 could have provided the key that changed the trajectory of world history as we know today.
In lieu of a Douglas MacArthur as President, America voted instead a more dovish 5- Star General in his stead – also a former Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe- Dwight Eisenhower who became America’s Commander in Chief and President from 1953-1961.
What if MacArthur then became president instead of Eisenhower?
Unfortunately, history is written based on facts not on speculative conjectures. But gee, that Douglas was really some general, don’t you think?
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