Why is general MacArthur regarded so highly in the US?

May 2019
10
United States
#1
In the United States MacArthur is generally considered to be one of the greatest American generals of the 20th century, but he doesn't seem to be very deserving of the title considering he:
  • Failed to defend the Philippines
  • Pardoned numerous Japanese war criminals
  • Oversaw the largest surrender of US troops in history
  • Oversaw the longest retreat in US military history
  • Brought China into the Korean War
  • Wanted to nuke China and Korea
  • Was eventually sacked and replaced by a far more competent general (Ridgeway) who was able to properly defend South Korea
Basically what I'm asking is why is he considered such a good general here considering everything I've listed?
 
Sep 2018
14
michigan
#2
regarding points points 5 and 7 the Chinese were always planning to join if he got in and the whole general staff including dc was with him after Inchon so giving him singular blame for that is ridiculous. and to your 7th point Ridgeway needed Macarthur because before Macarthur There WAS NO SOUTH KOREA. Inchon was the only reason Ridgeway had anything to defend. Also one of the main reasons Macarthur is seen in a good light is his leadership in japan which was a remarkable act of statesmanship in which he influenced policy profoundly on many levels and executed very well in many respects.
 
Mar 2016
946
Australia
#3
Pardoned numerous Japanese war criminals
A mass execution of war criminals might satisfy people bent on revenge, but it doesn't equate to sensible, practical policy. The Americans wanted to foster positive relations with Japan and establish a working relationship, and hunting down each and every person even vaguely connected to Japanese wartime operations would not help that process at all. Pragmatism and moderation is necessary if you want to work with a country, rather than just conquer it.
 
May 2019
10
United States
#4
A mass execution of war criminals might satisfy people bent on revenge, but it doesn't equate to sensible, practical policy. The Americans wanted to foster positive relations with Japan and establish a working relationship, and hunting down each and every person even vaguely connected to Japanese wartime operations would not help that process at all. Pragmatism and moderation is necessary if you want to work with a country, rather than just conquer it.
So why was General Yamashita executed? It isn't even known if he was actually responsible for any of the war crimes committed in the Philippines and he was no doubt a skilled commander, surely it would've been more pragmatic to learn from him.
regarding points points 5 and 7 the Chinese were always planning to join if he got in and the whole general staff including dc was with him after Inchon so giving him singular blame for that is ridiculous. and to your 7th point Ridgeway needed Macarthur because before Macarthur There WAS NO SOUTH KOREA. Inchon was the only reason Ridgeway had anything to defend.
Then why wasn't he able to hold off the Chinese advance (at least initially)? Why hadn't he prepared for a Chinese intervention even after their threats?
 
Feb 2018
202
US
#5
MacArthur is not regarded so highly by many liberal academics (aka academics) at all and has been the subject of many hit pieces and books. I'm not sure if even Robert E Lee has had his career besmirched as badly as MacArthur's has been. Finding neutral accounts and actually evaluating him is incredibly rare and difficult, since he is so polarizing that it is too easy to focus on just the negatives or the positives and not worry about nuance. There are real criticisms you could have offered: the poor state of readiness of the army before the Korean war, that he had a court instead of a staff (lol), that he commanded much of the Korean war from Tokyo, his manipulation of the narrative, egocentric treatment of his subordinates to the press, accepting the payment from the Philippines, the highly insubordinate letters to Congressman Martin, or his inability to accept criticism. On the positive side you have his extraordinary intellect, his almost suicidal personal courage, his recognition of the importance of Asia (even if he might have just been lucky he was stationed there), the ability to spot and promote talent, his ability to handle the press, his prescient advice about Vietnam and U.S. strategy during the Kennedy talks, etc etc. Plenty of things you can add on both sides.

Not going to spend much time on such an ideological subject, but some quick points:

-The Philippines was completely strategically isolated and likely doomed regardless. The campaign could've been conducted better of course but their position was untenable.
-The U.S. western pacific operations were conducted quite effectively overall compared to other fronts.
-The transformation of Japan from a bitter, ruined, and defeated rival to a powerful, devoted ally was one of the great strategic triumphs of the U.S. MacArthur navigated a very thorny road that was so easy to misstep, and handled it with superb skill.
-The Inchon campaign (and the delaying of the NK offensive earlier) was one of the finest operations in American history. The execution wasn't ideal but it nonetheless completely reversed the strategic situation in record time.
-Many were wrong about the Chinese intervention, including the CIA and Acheson. MacArthur even did a personal reconnaissance and saw nothing. He was still too cocky in his troop movements, but a lot of what happened came down to Chinese skill. Once disaster struck and the UN position was exposed, their retreat was very well managed.
-Who do you think chose Ridgway for the Korean War field commander role and gave him great authority?
 
Likes: Edratman
Mar 2019
549
Kansas
#6
-The transformation of Japan from a bitter, ruined, and defeated rival to a powerful, devoted ally was one of the great strategic triumphs of the U.S. MacArthur navigated a very thorny road that was so easy to misstep, and handled it with superb skill.
I dont consider myself a fan of MacArthur at all. But this was definitely a high point in his career. I think he struck a good middle ground between the need for revenge and the need to turn Japan back into a functioning country as quickly as possible
 

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