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Truman's nightmare

By Bruce Walker
web posted August 4, 2003

The Truman diaries reveal a public figure who was much less than meets the eye. Harry was not just anti-Semitic, but he was a racial bigot who paid his dues to join the Ku Klux Klan, but never became an active member because the KKK was anti-Catholic. His personal feelings about blacks and Jews, as his diaries show, never changed.

Even this does Truman more justice than he deserves. When Tom Pendergast, boss of one of the worst corrupt political machines in American history, hand-picked and groomed Harry Truman, Pendergast made it clear that his stooges could not belong to organizations like the KKK, which persecuted good Catholic boys (like him).

Among the many trivial phobias and bigotries of this very ordinary man was that Douglas MacArthur might have become president. History textbooks are written by Leftists, and Leftists loath MacArthur.

Even Leftist contempt cannot ignore certain salient facts. MacArthur not only graduated first in his class at West Point, one of the finest universities on Earth, but MacArthur had a higher ranking than anyone who ever attended West Point (Robert E. Lee was second).

The men around MacArthur in his long career of service are stunning. He served as military aide to President Theodore Roosevelt, who was brilliant himself and took a deep interest in military affairs. Dwight Eisenhower and Alexander Haig both served as aides to MacArthur.

Gen. Douglas MacArthurHis performance in the First World War earned him a field promotion to Brigadier General and thirteen personal citations for bravery. Douglass MacArthur would be the youngest Superintendent of West Point in history and then the youngest Army Chief of Staff in history.

During the Second World War, MacArthur earned that which Truman himself said he would have treasured more than anything else: the Congressional Medal of Honor. His skill as a commander in the Pacific was at least as great as Eisenhower in Europe.

After the war, in stark contrast to the caricature of MacArthur that Leftist sketch, this great American completely reformed Japanese government, introducing all the civil and political rights which we expect in good governments. When he left Japan, these intelligent, subtle and perceptive people gave MacArthur more respect than any non-Japanese in the history of the archipelago.

What is most fascinating about MacArthur, however, is how he won that greatest of modern American army victories, Inchon. The gamble, the minute planning, the psychological genius of the landings have all been well noted.

MacArthur had also intuited something that totally escaped Harry Truman, George Marshall and the other dimmer bulbs in Washington: Soviet espionage, both within the American government and within the United Nations, which nominally was fighting the war and through which American operations were communicated, were known to the communists. Consequently, Inchon was kept very secret.

MacArthur would have defeated any Democrat in 1952, but he was most serious about seeking the presidency in 1948. Would he have beaten Truman? Everyone simply assumed that Tom Dewey would trounce Truman, and Dewey ran a lackluster campaign.

Douglas MacArthur was a magnificent and inspirational public speaker. He was as near a Winston Churchill as America has produced. He was also enormously popular, just like Ike. Perhaps no modern political figures except for the two Roosevelts and Regan had a greater understanding of the theatrics of politics.

MacArthur would have beaten Harry Truman, and he may well have won just the sort of landslide that Eisenhower would win in 1952. What would that have meant to America and to the world? It is staggering to consider.

The Kung Tsiang Tang entered Beijing in early 1949, but they did not defeat the Party of the People in the rest of China until months later. Chaing Kai-shek did not leave until December 1949. Was China already lost by the time MacArthur would have entered the White House?

Probably not. Venona and other post-Cold War evidence now conclusively supports what anti-communists in 1950 had been saying: Soviet support was decisively important to the victory of the Kung Tsiang Tang, and much of this support was in the form of sabotage within America.

Soviet agents like Harry Dexter White deliberately caused hopeless inflation in China by holding financial support ordered and appropriated by Congress. This inflation – the value of money dropped to one millionth of its prior value – did in China what it had done in Germany: democidal monsters gained power.

Soviet agents within the American government were advising the Secretary of State on China policy, were handling our "economic help" to China, and were even the key intelligence officers representing the American government in China.

The day MacArthur took office, these men were all out – or, perhaps, they would be fed themselves misinformation, much like MacArthur had done to communists at Inchon. His own staff was filled with extraordinarily capable men who were passionately loyal to MacArthur.

Most critically, Douglass MacArthur had a much better understanding of the Orient than any American president and a better understanding of warfare in the Orient than almost anyone alive. Once he assessed the real situation, MacArthur would have moved decisively, and his bias almost certainly would have been to prevent the Kung Tsiang Tang from establishing a communist empire in China.

During the period in which MacArthur worked to save China, America would have had a complete monopoly on atomic weapons (for several months) and an equally important monopoly on the ability to deliver atomic weapons. America had the ability to incinerate Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Vladivostok, Stalingrad and Kharkov in a single afternoon; Moscow did not have the ability to drop a single conventional bomb on any American city. MacArthur, who also knew more than any other military commander in the world about the effect of atomic weapons, would have used this advantage to the maximum.

What, then, if China did not fall to the Kung Tsiang Tang? What if Chaing Kai-shek, operating under the new, liberal constitution of 1948, had remained President of China? The usual Leftist rap on Chaing is that he was a corrupt reactionary, etc. and that Mao was an agrarian reformer, etc.

China under Mao exterminated tens of millions of human beings – some estimates are as high as sixty million – and kept China a backward and weak nation (it could not even defeat Vietnam in 1978). Chaing and the Party of the People took Taiwan and turned it into one of the most bustling economies in Asia.

The per capita GNP of Taiwan is ten times greater than that of China, and by 1960 a China under the Party of the People would have been the second largest economy in the world. Moreover, MacArthur would have had the respect and support of both Japan and China. The entire dynamic of Cold War geopolitics would have changed for the better.

The Soviet Union would have had no interest at all in building a huge nuclear arsenal – in the event of a nuclear war, the occupation of Russia by Chinese forces would have been a very real possibility. The Soviets would also have seen the futility of building up huge conventional forces, because a Sino-American military alliance, with a free Chinese economy, would have had vastly greater potential than Russia.

When the Polish and Hungarian peoples revolted in the 1950s, President MacArthur could have insisted that these peoples be allowed to develop into states like Finland – free, democratic, neutral and peaceful – which would have made all the interest of America in European security unnecessary.

All those bad things that treason caused – atomic arms race, thermonuclear arms race, the threat of nuclear war; the Korean War, Vietnam War and other nasty little wars; the enslavement of over one billion human beings in a brutal Maoist thugocracy – would have been prevented if America had President MacArthur in 1949 instead of President Truman. That – that! – was Truman's nightmare.

Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.

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