The Real MacArthur?

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My stint as an Army journalist a few years earlier (1951–53) than Geoffrey Perret gave me no insight into the MacArthur legend. I fear, however, his search for the “real” MacArthur (February/March) has brought him under the mystique and glossed his journalistic vision.

How does the failure of President Hoover’s orders to reach him absolve MacArthur of the brutal acts he carried out against the Bonus Marchers and their wives and children?

Perhaps Mr. Ferret’s 1958 naiveté could lead him to believe that the veterans with whom he shared a flight to the Philippines doubted the fighting ability of the scouts. I suspect rather that they were commenting on MacArthur’s folly in allowing those men to be committed to that hopeless task.

I also find it incredible that Mr. Perret describes MacArthur’s inability to distinguish between truth and untruth as “denial.” There is a word for those who believe their own lies, and it is not “denial.”

Finally, Mr. Perret glosses over MacArthur’s stupid push into North Korea. Tens of thousands of brave men died because of this arrogant action. And if truth be known, I suspect they were mercifully just the last of many whom MacArthur sacrificed to his ego and lack of judgment, beginning in France.

My understanding of how self-centered this man was came from a West Point grad who said of him: “Ask anybody to name three general officers who served in Europe. … Now name three from the Pacific.”