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MACARTHUR DISMISSAL: Was President Truman Justified in Dismissing General MacArthur?
On April 11, 1951, President Harry S. Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur of his command in Asia after MacArthur publicly disagreed with the administration’s strategy for fighting the Korean War. Many believed that, although the president had the right to fire the general, the circumstances did not warrant his dismissal. All MacArthur had done, they argued, was merely express his opinion about military strategy in Korea, which was well within his rights as the commander of U.S. forces there. Others, however, disagreed, arguing that MacArthur had not simply expressed his opinion on how to conduct the war, but through his actions had attempted to set policy rather than follow it. It was the administration’s duty to make policy, they claimed, not MacArthur’s.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Was President Truman justified in firing General MacArthur for publicly disagreeing with U.S. policy? Or was MacArthur simply expressing his opinion on the best wartime strategy, as any commander had a right to do? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of MacArthur’s dismissal this month.
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