An ignorant Trump with his own General MacArthur would spell disaster in the Middle East.
Donald Trump’s argument that it doesn’t matter whether he knows even the most rudimentary information about the Mideast because once elected President he’d spend twenty-four hours brushing up and that, he told us was enough to make him the best foreign policy president ever is, on the one hand, amusing in its own way because it shows him to be an egotistical buffoon. On the other hand, it was frightening, when he elaborated on his foreign policy strategy by saying that he’ll simply go and find a Douglas MacArthur to fix the problem of ISIS. This awful suggestion demands a closer examination. It it is worth noting that even hawkish conservatives, who might otherwise welcome a MacArthur or a Patton or a Westmoreland running our Mideast involvement, recognize essential nature of Donald Trump and his bombastic “Trumpism’s.” Writing for the very conservative National Review last week, Jonah Goldberg said of Trump: “He’s a mouth at the wrong end of an alimentary canal spewing crap with no sense of responsibility.”
Now in case any of you don’t recognize Patton, Westmoreland, and MacArthur, they were former war hero-Generals. All three, buoyed by their former successes in battle and hampered by their own egos and failure to understand the constraints of military power, gave horrible advice to their weak-on-foreign-policy Commanders-in-Chief. Patton, General of the 3rd Army in Europe, wanted our war weary soldiers to continue our WW II march in Europe, right into Prague to engage the Soviet Union, to fight them while they were in a weakened condition. Eisenhower, then Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe ordered him to stop his advances. Later on, General Eisenhower removed Patton from his post as military governor as well as his command over the 3rd Army for insubordination. General Westmoreland was one of the chief architects of our escalation of the war in Vietnam. Faced with a President (Johnson) who knew little about Southeast Asia, Westmoreland, the head of M.A.C.V. (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam), gave a series of strong recommendations for increased military involvement, each designed to blot out the failure of his previous advice. First it was to send in ground troops, then more troops, then interdicting bombing and ultimately widening the war into Cambodia and Laos. He opposed pacification and denounced those against the war back home. He was replaced as Army Chief of Staff in Johnson’s waning days in office, following the disastrous Tet Offensive. Our troop involvement in Vietnam under Westmoreland’s watch went from under twenty thousand to over half-million. General MacArthur, Donald Trump’s model for his ideal commander to combat ISIS and resolve a sectarian conflict that Trump admittedly doesn’t understand the first thing about, at this time, is a case unto himself. MacArthur was commander of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East in WW II. He remained in Asia to oversee, as a sort of Czar, the occupation of Japan and its transition to a peaceful post-war country. After N. Korea invaded the South in 1950, MacArthur became commander of the United Nations Command over the S. Korean Army, and after the U.S. committed ground troops, he led those forces as well. President Truman then ordered MacArthur to cross the 38th parallel into N. Korea and, in a meeting with Truman a month later in October of 1950 on Wake Island, MacArthur agreed with Truman on not provoking the Chinese to enter the fray. MacArthur famously told Truman that the U.S. troops would be home by Christmas. However, as the U.N. (mostly U .S. forces) advanced towards the Chinese border, there was concern that they would be provoked into sending troops into N. Korea. Our European allies feared the possible start of a nuclear war. President Truman, fearing a Chinese invasion, thus widening the war, and resulting in the loss of many more lives, wanted MacArthur to consolidate our gains and not incite China by moving too close to their border.
Egotistically, MacArthur ordered our forces to push ever closer to the Chinese border, claiming that: “because of my own long experience…”, the Chinese would not challenge our forces. He further argued that because he saw no evidence of a Chinese build-up in his fly-over the battle area, our push North wouldn’t cause them to intervene. It later turned out that his staff, armed with C.I.A. Intelligence, had estimated that a small force of about 70,000 Chinese may already have crossed into N. Korea. This small a force, MacArthur thought wouldn’t be major players against the overwhelming U.N. forces. In fact, there were 400,000 Chinese soldiers already in N. Korea to our rear with a resulting costly loss of lives. Our forces were pushed back. MacArthur retreated. Seoul fell in January, 1951. MacArthur later admitted desire to use nuclear weapons. The Joint Chiefs of Staff feared that MacArthur would exceed his orders and get us into a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. General Ridgeway’s forces retook Seoul, and during a period of successes on the battlefield, President Truman saw the situation ripe for a negotiated settlement. MacArthur then demanded a public Chinese admission of defeat. Truman as Commander-in-Chief gave MacArthur orders not to discuss policy matters that were the realm of the government. In direct contravention to these orders, MacArthur sent a letter to the Republican Minority Leader in the House of Representatives, critical of Truman’s policies which he read before Congress. General Marshall and the other Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that MacArthur should be relieved of his command, which Truman then did. This, then, is the model for the person Donald Trump wanted to find to handle the sticky and millenia-old sectarian conflicts in the Mideast that have morphed into a terrorist threat to the West. We realize the hostility towards both government and the media, but perhaps, for self-preservation we should demand candidates who are well versed on our international problems. You’d think that after an international politically naive George W. Bush’s reliance upon Iraq hawks like Rumsfeld and Cheney got us into the Iraqi mess that we would have learned something.