[NY Times] U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation
Gregory Alan Bolcer
Sat, 01 Mar 2003 08:03:39 -0800
> > Imagine that we might even have had a nuclear free Korean
> > penninsula. Interestingly enough, Truman fired MacArthur
> > as history has now taught us, not for his reliability for
> > commanding troops, but for his perceived unreliability.
> > Truman though MacArthur would refuse a presidential order
> > to use nuclear weapons on the Korean penninsuly if ordered
> > to do so.
> Not according to my military history professor back in the early 80s.
> MacArthur was calling for nuclear war with mainland China. If anything,
> MacArthur should have been fired earlier.
Think of it this way. Truman told him we needed victory
over the Chinese on the Korean penninsula. MacArthur told
him that he needed more men and weapons to which there
wasn't the political will to provide. Greatly outforced,
using nuclear weapons as a way to change the balance was
considered. Victory over the Chinese on the penninsula
meant victory over the Chinese. MacArthur advocated that
if you had the political will to use nuclear bombs against
the Chinese, you strike at the heart of their political
will--something he thought was malleable through force.
There's always a conflict between political will and military
force. The paradox would have been that they would have
had the political will to use nuclear weapons, but against
the wrong target that conflicted with the military goals of
victory over the Chinese--the most efficient way being
obliterating their supply.
Using nuclear weapons on the penninsula would have been like
trying to kill wasps by hitting the nest with a bat. It's
the difference between telling the military commanders
what their goals are versus telling them how to achieve them.
Patton said it best, "Never tell people how to do things.
Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their