I always thought that if a general disobeyed the commander-in chief, he would be fired, not promoted.
So when I found out that General MacArthur disobeyed direct orders from President Hoover and used violence against the Bonus Army, I looked into his life more deeply. The Bonus Army was a march on Washington by 43,000 WWI veterans and their supporters in 1932. They sought the bonus they were promised earlier than the due date, because of dire economic conditions resulting from the Great Depression.
McCarthur ‘s actions resulted in “hundreds injured, two men shot dead and two babies who died from tear gas asphyxiation.” Their shanty town was burned down.
President Hoover took the blame, on the theory, I guess, that the buck stops here. Still, what was MacArthur thinking? His arrogant stance with hands on hips while all this mayhem was going on was exactly like Benito Mussolini’s.
FDR, then a presidential candidate, called MacArthur one “of the most dangerous men in America,” the perfect white horse dictator in the event of a military coup. In 1933 Wall Street financiers did plan a fascist coup, calling upon General Smedley Butler to ride the white horse and lead the veterans. Butler was well-liked by the veterans, while MacArthur was despised. Butler testified against the plotters in the McCormack-Dickstein hearings.
MacArthur ruled Japan after WWII as Supreme Commander and organized a war crimes tribunal. Several leaders were hanged and many imprisoned but in 1948, MacArthur and John Foster Dulles began releasing the war criminals, so they could form the World Anti-Communist League. This group of anti-communists terrorists, aided by the CIA, spread over six continents.
In 1950 in Korea, MacArthur’s forces firebombed many cities with napalm and probably used chemical and biological weapons. Three million North Koreans died and this tragedy is still fresh in the minds of the isolated North Koreans. MacArthur wanted to expand the war into China with nuclear weapons, but Truman disagreed. After repeated inflammatory remarks against Truman, MacArthur was fired in 1951.
In spite of his anti-democratic and authoritarian ways, he was cheered as a hero when he returned to the U.S.A. After making his famous statement, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” he faded into the chairmanship of the Remington Rand Company, which evolved into Unisys, a top war contractor.
Fascism has always been a more potent threat to American democracy than communism. It has always been supported by rich, powerful interests and in true fascist style, favored aggressive, militarist expansion. We have been so busy looking for danger from the left, we have been blind to the danger from the right.
If a war hero rode into Washington to oust the government today, how many Americans, unaware of the history of Mussolini, Hitler and Tojo, would “support the troops?”
(*Eisenhower is the one who called MacArthur an S.O.B.)