China's Rise Is MacArthur's Vindication

In the midst of President Harry Truman’s controversial firing of General Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War, Air Force General George Kenny, who brilliantly led MacArthur’s air force in the Southwest Pacific in World War II, wrote that when the histories of the Korean War are written, they will "add still more to the luster of MacArthur's reputation as a military leader." General Kenny was wrong about historians, who have largely taken Truman’s side in the debate over how to deal with China’s entry into the war. But in a larger geopolitical sense, General Kenny was right. China’s rise in the 21st century and its challenge to America’s global preeminence have vindicated MacArthur.

Truman’s partisans have long portrayed MacArthur’s conduct during the Korean War as reckless, dangerous, and likely to lead to World War III. They have blamed MacArthur for attempting to liberate North Korea from communist rule, even though that was the initial policy of the Truman administration and the United Nations. They have blamed MacArthur for sending forces under his command to the Yalu River, even though MacArthur was told by General George Marshall to “feel unhampered strategically and tactically to proceed north of the 38th Parallel." They claimed that MacArthur's reckless advance into North Korea provoked China to enter the war in October-November 1950, even though China had decided to massively enter the war as early as July 1950, long before Inchon and long before MacArthur’s forces crossed into North Korea.

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