Douglas Macarthur and the Inchon Decision Term Paper

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Douglas MacArthur and the Inchon Decision

Most historians today would agree that Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) has not "faded away," but remains a source of ongoing research and scholarly investigation concerning his career and the decisions that ultimately contributed to his downfall. A brilliant tactician, military leader and communicator by most accounts, General MacArthur also possessed an oversized ego and some potentially paranoid delusions about those around him that likely contributed to this ignominious fate. This paper examines MacArthur's career and the decisions that resulted in his victory at Inchon during the Korean War in 1950 and the subsequent setbacks that marred this final victory in the general's life. A discussion concerning MacArthur's role as a communicator and his likely rationale for approaching the planning and prosecution of his battle strategy at Inchon is followed by an assessment of the positive and negative lessons that can be learned from MacArthur's lengthy military career in the concluding section.

Review and Discussion

1. What were the mission, goal(s), and objectives of the U.S. vis-a-vis the Korean Situation in August, 1950?Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Douglas Macarthur and the Inchon Decision Assignment

The fundamental mission of the U.S. In August 1950 was to stop and reverse the relentless drive of tens of thousands of elite North Korean forces invading their South Korean ally. Without U.S. intervention, it was feared that the entire southern peninsula would soon be overrun by the invading North Koreans, and there was sufficient justification for such concern. For example, in his recent book, the Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, Halberstam (2007) reports that, "On June 25, 1950, nearly seven divisions of elite North Korean troops, many of whom had fought for the Communist side in the Chinese civil war, crossed the border into South Korea, with the intention of conquering the entire South in three weeks" (p. 1). Just as there were two very different sides to the man himself, his legacy is likewise perceived in vastly different ways by different schools of thought concerning MacArthur's actions at Inchon in 1950 (see map at Appendix a for location of Inchon). For instance, Demick (2007) points out that there is a 16-foot-tall bronze statue of General Douglas a. MacArthur on a bluff in Inchon, South Korea that overlooks the.".. very spot where thousands of U.S. troops, under MacArthur's command, landed in 1950 to drive back the North Korean forces. Devotees regularly pay homage to the Korean War general with bouquets of chrysanthemums accompanied by admiring notes -- 'Long Live MacArthur, the savior of freedom'" (p. 47).

By sharp contrast, a growing number of modern South Koreans are of a diametrically opposite view about MacArthur and his actions at Inchon: "Much larger numbers of South Korean students and trade unionists have chosen this same place for a different purpose: to stage unruly protests in which they unfurl their cri de guerre: 'Tear it down,' they chant. 'Tear it down'" (Demick, p. 47). In fact, the critics of MacArthur's decision at Inchon go as far as to characterize him as a war criminal for his actions and maintain that "his lies and blunders unnecessarily prolonged the war in Korea, causing tens of thousands of deaths and leaving the country as the last front line of the cold war. This view of the American legacy in Korea has prevailed among younger generations of South Koreans for at least a decade" (Demick, p. 48). This dichotomy of opinions about MacArthur is a recurrent them throughout the literature, and there appears to be adequate justification for both sides.

In chapter 6, "Decision Making," the authors report, "When the Korean War began in 1950, Douglas MacArthur - the most brilliant and among the most flamboyant American generals of the twentieth century - was soon selected to command United Nations forces in Korea. Only five days after North Korea began the war by invading South Korea, MacArthur seized on a concept for winning the war" (p. 295). The concept MacArthur formulated so quickly was as bold and daring as the general himself: "A turning movement deep into the flank and rear of the enemy that would sever his supply lines and encircle all his forces south of Seoul" (quoted in Decision Making at p. 295). While destroying the enemy's capability to wage war represents a fundamental goal of virtually any military endeavor, this bold plan for winning the war was not viable for a number of reasons, including a lack of manpower and a lack of time for preparation and the general was compelled to abandon this approach for the time being, but he did not simply forget about the concept but rather incorporated it into his mindset for future reference as the war progressed (Decision Making).

Just as MacArthur's decision-making during the early days of the war was marked by haste, the North's decision to precipitate the war was based on some erroneous assumptions about the wherewithal of the United States regarding its erstwhile South Korean ally, but these assumptions were not entirely without sound basis in fact. According to one historian, "Although the United States had itself partitioned the Korean peninsula after the defeat of the Japanese -- and installed its own man, Syngman Rhee, in Seoul -- Korea was still viewed as an irrelevant backwater. In January 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson described Korea as being 'outside the U.S. security perimeter'" (Demick, p. 58).

Despite these misplaced assumptions about what the U.S. And its allies would do in response to an invasion by the North, but these misperceptions where shared by North Korea's allies of China and the Soviet Union as well. In this regard, Kaufman (1999) reports that, "It now seems clear that the Soviet Union and the PRC played a reluctant but, nevertheless, significant role in Kim Il Sung's decision to invade South Korea in the early summer of 1950. Simply put, without their acquiescence, North Korea would almost certainly not have attacked" (p. 37). After the speech by Secretary of State Dean Acheson that declared Korea was not within the U.S. defense perimeter, the North Korean Leader, Kim Il Sung was confident that he could prosecute his plans for invading South Korea and get away with it - and quickly. According to Kaufman, in early 1950, Sung visited Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese leader Mao Zedong to discuss his plans for invading South Korea. At the time, Kaufman advises that, "Although Stalin approved the plan to reunite Korea and even promised to supply North Korea with arms and other military equipment, he did so reluctantly and only after Kim II Sung promised that he could defeat South Korea within three days" (p. 38). Likewise, General MacArthur believed that he could defeat the North Koreans in just three weeks, but both of these leaders were far off base in their estimations. As Halberstam (2007) emphasizes, "The Korean War would last three years, not three weeks, and it would be the most bitter kind of war, in which relatively small American and United Nations forces worked to neutralize the superior numbers of their adversaries by the use of vastly superior hardware and technology" (p. 1).

Despite Sung's assurances, Stalin remained highly concerned that the war in Korea could result in another world war involving the United States and the Soviet Union (Kaufman). According to this author, "Stalin waited until the Chinese agreed to support the invasion before he gave it his unequivocal backing. Should the United States intervene in the war, he anticipated that the Chinese would enter the conflict, thereby diminishing the need for Soviet intervention while forcing Beijing to be more dependent on Moscow, something he preferred" (Kaufman, p. 38). As a concomitant to his decision, Stalin believed that a war in Korea might compel the United States to redefine its interests and its resources from its bases in Europe and counter the U.S.'s efforts to reestablish Germany and Japan as major economic and political powers (Kaufman, p. 38).

In their analysis, "Operation Chromite: The Concept and the Plan," the historians at the U.S. Army Center of Military History (2007) report that, "Although the exact date of D-day is partially dependent upon enemy reaction during the month of August," at the time, MacArthur communicated the following message to Washington: "I am firmly convinced that an early and strong effort behind his front will sever his main line of communication and enable us to deliver a decisive and crushing blow" (quoted in Operation Chromite at p. 3). The general insisted as well that time was of the essence for the success of his operations: "Any material delay in such an operation may lose this opportunity. The alternative is a frontal attack which can only result in a protracted and expensive campaign to slowly drive the enemy north of the 38th Parallel" (p. 5). As prophetic as this missive turned out to be, some observers suggest that MacArthur's deceit and outright fabrications contributed to the eventual drawn out and extremely bloody nature of the conflict.

2. MacArthur was an expert communicator.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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