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A Critical Study on the Controversy over theDismiss of General MacArthur and the Principle ofCivilian Control over the Military

Kim, Yung Ho 1

1성신여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

President Truman's decision to relieve General MacArthur from the Commanders of the United Nations and the Far East Command caused consternation because it was made in the middle of the Korean War after Chinese intervention. His dismiss is a topic still arousing controversy. With the opening of Soviet and Chinese archives at the end of the Cold War a variety of subjects relating to the Korean War are being reexamined. The controversy on the relief of MacArthur is one of the most important subjects to be reassessed. The article begins by examining Clausewitz's theory of war which provides the theoretical foundation on the principle of civilian control over the military. The principle was cited as one of the main reason for the relief of MacArthur. The article argues that American intervention was made to achieve the political objective of preventing the communists from expanding over the US containment line. With the brilliant victory at Inchon the original US objectives began to expand. It resulted in the rising tension between civilian leaders in Washington and MacArthur. The article will explain the limits of MacArthur's argument on the expansion of the battlefield into Manchuria during the period from Chinese Communist Forces (CCF) intervention and his relief. It will analyze how civilian leaders pursued the original purpose of limited war in opposition to MacArthur. The article will conclude by arguing that the containment is more pertinent than MacArthur's rollback strategy in peacefully managing and ending the Cold War. In the controversy over MacArthur's dismiss civilian leaders are also responsible for the debacle after CCF intervention.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.