Another interesting fact about Douglas MacArthur, and I think my knowledge comes from Daniel Immerwahr’s excellent book “How to hide an Empire,” was his utter failure to protect the US Pacific Air Force on December 8th, 1941. A phone call to Manilla at 2 am got General MacArthur, the commander of the United States Army Forces in the Far East, out of bed and into his uniform. He went directly to his command center and did absolutely nothing for the next 9 hours. Although he knew that the US Pacific Fleet had just been wiped out in Pearl Harbor, he took no action to protect his own forces. The Japanese attack on the US forces in the Philippines had been planned as a surprise attack at dawn, but a snafu delayed it till noon, but that did nothing to help MacArthur’s indecision. In a blow just as devastating as Pearl Harbor, the entire US Pacific Air Force was destroyed on the ground.
This attack was deliberately omitted from FDR speech, as the Philippines had been a US colony since 1895. Hence, explaining an attack on a territory where the USA occupying forces were most unwelcome, posed some logical challenges that Roosevelt did not wish to address. It can be noted that Hawaii (Pearl Harbor) was also a territory occupied by the USA at the time.
“All the Lies Trump Told the West Point Graduates About American Militarism”
Well i’m not going to watch Trump bloviate, but surely Juan Cole fails to catalogue ALL the lies Trump spewed at West Point?
Thanks for the history. It always pisses me off about Pearl Harbor commemoration, no one ever seems to question: What were all those US warships doing in Hawai’i anyway?
Trump is the worst, but I depise all the chicken hawks like him who pretend to be so gung ho when it comes to the military, but he would be the first one to go hide in his bunker when the time came. Hell he couldn’t even stand a few protesters who were safely outside the White House fence. I am against pretty much all military actions on moral grounds. If asked to serve I would likely refuse on conscientious grounds. But Trump is the opposite of that. He glorifies it all while quaking in his boots. War making is what cowards do. Bravery is refusing to fight such wars in the first place.
And I do not mean to denigrate those who have fought in our wars, they had their own reasons and will have to live with their decisions.
If Trump had a nickel for every lie he’s told in his pathetlife, he’d have a lot of nickels.
I remember my late father, who served in the ETO, saying he was grateful he served under General Bradley, because Patton would have gotten him killed(he was in the Army Corps of Engineers). Bradley had a brain, he said, while Patton was likely to go off like a bomb, doing stupid things to show his bravery that got his men killed.
As for MacArthur…he was fixated on just one thing and one slogan. Tunnel vision.
While this is the Army, I can compare two admirals in the Navy. Admiral Bull Halsey was a Patton type, even taking his fleet into the heart of a typhoon against the advice of just about everybody. Admiral King was in the Atlantic Theater, and he was thoughtful, told things as they were, and had zero personal skin in the game. Humble warrior. His tactics turned the tide in 1943-44, when it looked pretty grim with the U-Boats taking massive tolls.
Bottom line-Trump admires only those who reflect his own traits. It’s called mirroring, we all do it to a point, but it’s deadly in a leader of a country who’s a narcissistic sociopath.
Enjoyed reading your excellent post. Long before my time when Truman fired MacArthur, but I never heard why? Maybe you can enlighten me.
Disagreements over the Korean war.
Mac and Patton are an interesting duo. What they had in common was a flair for the press and right wing domestic politics. But in actions they differ. Look at Japan. Mac is the Father of that country. He landed as soon as possible and took control. He immediately gave women equal rights. After centuries of a War culture he created a Democracy overnight. He made sure women ran for office. Curiously his land reform was more like Trotsky than Stalin as he gave the big farms to the farmers who worked there and took the land from the Overlords. This pissed off Wall Street and the American elites. His idea and way of redistributing the wealth in Japan which was the land would have made Huey Long smile. Mac showed the Japanese real Democracy. His aversion to punishing every one for war crimes was because he believed the people at the top should face the music. They gave the orders. He is called the American Caesar because he wanted to use his power to redistribute the wealth just as Caesar insisted the water from the Aqueducts be open to all Roman citizens. Patton was nothing like Mac as a leader.
Thanks. Did Truman want to use nukes?
The American Revolution was obviously a proxy war between Britain and France. The American elite’s reason for independence was the preservation of slavery (our obsession with property rights).
That is precisely why they are called “Chicken Hawks”! The LOVE the IDEA of war. They LOVE the glorification of war BUT as for actually serving in such wars, they are far too superior to do so [
legends in their own minds, cowards to their core]!
You mean to say that Trump didn’t give the cadets a
sense of what the American corporate state really thinks
of them? And that is, as Henry Kissinger said of them: “Military
men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns
in foreign policy”
I’ve given this speech in classes all over California, and it is rarely taken well.
FDR and Churchill saw the threat of the Nazis. They were both aware of the problem of time. If Hitler had the time to consolidate his newly conquered resources, he would come for England. Eventually America would be fighting Germany alone. And Germany was already developing rockets.
American isolationism was extremely strong at the time. It was further fueled by the Socialist Nazi Party here. A large percentage of teh rich in this country liked Fascism. It made them kings in America. They quietly supported it with money and their businesses. The families of the Morgans, Rockefeller’s and a dozen other rich families wanted Hitler to win. They used the media to keep people questioning. They use racism and sexism to drive it. America was going nowhere but down. FDR was stopped cold. Sop he switched tack. He blockaded Japans fuel supply in the South Japan Sea just after they allied themselves with Germany. He did it very publicly, so the Fascists couldn’t stop him. He them left the fleet exposed in San Diego. He waited and nothing happened for eight months. So, he moved teh fleet to Hawaii and left them wide open to attack. He felt that the losses we might take would be far better than facing Germany and Japan later. Hard choices to be sure. Once the attack was found out, it was ignored. The Japanese fleet movements were buried. The call to arms the morning of the attack was deferred. The attack was allowed. The speech had been in the writing for three weeks to insure the maximum impact. It forced us into the war. Upon which we immediately declared war on Germany and off we went. Douglass MacArthur was extremely well connected politically, but he was known for being inept at everything except photo ops. His family also owned the Dole pineapple plantations in the Philippines. It was an immensely profitable business. FDR thought that he would fight better and harder if the MacArthur s had something of their own to lose. He was almost wrong. MacArthur spent the better part of the war in Hawaii. He almost never went anywhere else. When Manila finally fell to America, MacArthur was there a week early, but spent the entire time in a bunker. Thus the name Dugout Doug. He had a huge impact on America by making sure he was in the papers and being quoted saying brave things. FDR thought he was a coward. Patton wanted him hung for cowardice.MacArthur wanted Patton dismissed for insanity. Eisenhower thought MacArthur was a corporate sell out. I personally think they were both right. Patton was sent home to his families compound in San Marino CA… A suburb of Pasadena.on a small piece of land granted to them by the Huntington family, and never let out again. MacArthur stayed in the limelight and took every credit he could for producing almost nothing of value.
I am certain that these West Point graduates were lied to about America’s imperial death squads every day throughout their school career and probably their entire lives if they believe that the US military’s actions around the world have anything to do with defense or democracy or freedom. Maybe trump’s lies were delivered in words with fewer syllables, though. Maybe that’s worse?
This is a very unique, and valuable, take on the circumstances of getting into WWII. I was a history major, and although there was a lot of talk about the differences between Patton an MacArthur, nothing was revealed about MacArthur plantations in the Philippines. Even though FDR was more interested in the European part of the war, the necessity of getting in against fascism, by way of the Pearl Harbor attack, turned out to be more important.
Read An American Caesar good book.
That is very informative, thank you!
Couple of points. The USA was isolationist in the second war. They were in a depression and didn’t want the cost or the death . They were forced into the war . FDR blockaded the Japanese oil supplies in the South.Then put the fleet in Hawaii betting that a large task force couldn’t wipe out the entire fleet. It didn’t. It also got us into the war with Japan and then Germany, which was the real target. FDR did the same thing Wilson did. They sacrificed Americans now to save America later.
As far as MacArthur? His family owned most of the Dole pineapple plantations in the Philippines. He had to go back and take it , or go broke. Dugout Doug was about photo ops and political power. He never gave much of a damn about the troops. Patton was another rich crazy person. He was institutionalized at home in Pasadena on the family compound as soon as they could get him there. He never left that property again.