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Harry Truman Tells How He'd Had Enough of MacArthur

by Merle Miller

Firing the General: Harry Truman Tells How He’d Had Enough of MacArthur


Mr. President, I know why you fired General MacArthur, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to hear it in your own words.

“I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. 1 didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail. That’s why when a good one comes along like General Marshall . . . why, you’ve got to hang onto them, and I did.

“But MacArthur . . . well, to understand what happened and what I think most people don’t understand is that the so-called China Lobby was very strong in this country when I was in the White House. They had a great many Congressmen and Senators lined up to do pretty much what they were told, and they had billions or dollars to spend, and they spent it. They even had some newspapers lined up, some big ones at that.1 I’m not saying that they bought anybody out, but there was a lot of money floating around, and a lot of people in Washington were following what I call the China Lobby Line.

“You used to hear a lot about the Communist Party Line, but the China Lobby Line was a lot . . . had a lot more people going along, powerful people, too. And what they wanted, they wanted to put old Chiang back in power. And the first step in that direction was getting . . . was trying to get Chiang’s army into the war in Korea, which I was not about to let happen in any way.

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