Saturday, April 15, 2006

In the Shadow of MacArthur

General Douglas MacArthur, a man used to winning wars, was deeply dissatisfied with the limited Allied goals in Korea. He bitterly resented sending men to die for such goals, and, while still Supreme Allied Commander, spoke out publicly about his frustration with the way Harry Truman was conducting the war.

Truman's response:
With deep regret I have concluded that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is unable to give his wholehearted support to the policies of the United States Government and of the United Nations in matters pertaining to his official duties.
The President's hand was forced. Regardless of the relative merits of Truman's strategy versus what MacArthur believed was right, the American military must submit to civilian authority. We are not, after all, the Soviet Union. General MacArthur knew this, and spoke out anyway, knowing that it would lead to his relief from command, and the end of his long and distinguished service. Perhaps he considered the lives of the men he led more important than his career.

What then, to make of the six American generals who have publicly demanded the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? Their statements about the conduct of the Iraqi theater of the War on Terror would suggest that things are quite dire indeed. Men are dying needlessly, they say.

Why then, did not one of these generals feel that these men were more important than his own career?