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tv   General Mac Arthur as a Military Commander  CSPAN  September 5, 2016 2:36pm-3:50pm EDT

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tv, author walter borneman is the author and the macarthur memorial in norfolk, virginia, hosted this conference. this portion is about 1:10. the timing of this symposium is intentional. 75 years ago next week, general macarthur was recalled from retirement to service that helped define both him and asia for many years to come. in asia as in much of the world, 1845 is yesterday and to understand the modern world, or to understand much of the modern world, you have to understand the stories we'll be exploring today. the general was buried with his wife jean and we have two floors
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of exhibits on his life and times and we have an exhibit to your left on the liberation of the philippines. i encourage you to explore and take time during the breaks. it will be opened until 5:00 today. this symposium is great partnership between the city of norfolk who provides key support to the macarthur memorial and their programs. i know we have several board members here and i'd like to recognize them for their support. i would like to recognize my staff who are here today and, quite frankly, helped make this happen. i may be the guy up here giving the welcoming remarks but without their hard work and dedication, we wouldn't be here today and we wouldn't be having the program we're going to have, amanda, robert, please give them a round of applause. [ applause ]
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at this time, i'm going to bring jim forward who will emcee us for the rest of the day. again, welcome and let's have a great day. >> all right. welcome, y'all. glad you all could make it. this is our 15th symposium. we started in about '75 when we started putting on the occupation to japan symposium and over the last 50 years we've put together about 15 of them and all of them have turned out really great because we bring people that intend to use the archives and that's the thing about macarthur when he set this place up, he wanted it to be a free and open access to all of the materials he had. as well, he wanted the memorial to be a place for free and open discussion and debate about things that were as well as putting a no price tag entry
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which is probably one of the only places anywhere you don't have to pay to get into it. thanks for all coming. world war ii veterans? most definitely. benito, flew in from the philippines the other night. he grew up in occupied philippines. [ applause ] j.j. hanson holmes, she grew up in the jungles of mindinau. chris grew up in manila as well. we've got a lot of great -- [ applause ] and they are really what makes this place so special because they keep coming back all the time. we have somebody new. gwen, are you here? she was from los banos. she was in an internment camp
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and then down at los banos. if i didn't call you out, it's because i don't know you yet. but i will soon. we have three great authors here and then we'll talk about a book and then be showing bonnie's film later on with the help of philippine veterans bank, which is really the mainstay behind the support that our philippine delegation gets. it's a great day, long day, i'm glad we're inside. it's going to be 100 degrees outside. let's get it kicked off. our three authors who came all the way from colorado as well as wisconsin and new jersey, all to be here, the one thing they have in common is they did research here at the macarthur memorial for these three books. we're very pleased to have them. they all have different styles. all three books are great, read them all. had to. because i had to be up here on the stage. first off, we'll have walter borneman.
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walter made quite a nuisance of himself over the last couple of years being here nonstop, get me this. no, he wasn't like that at all. very nice guy. very glad to have him. professional writer. this is his book, "macarthur at war." there's been a lot of books done on macarthur. it took ten pages just to get to one point. manchester did a very famous book. used to take him ten pages and he never really got to the point. walter has a way of synthesizing ideas and really getting to the essence of certain issues in just a few paragraphs. that's the strong point that i think of walter's book. and so we will bring him up right now. so walter borneman from colorado, welcome to the macarthur memorial. [ applause ]
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>> good morning. it is indeed a privilege to be here. i was going to say some nice things about jim, and i think i still will after that introduction. i'm delighted to be back here. i really am. i would not have been able to do this book without the research facilities of this particular institution and i thank it as an institution and i certainly thank jim zoble as an individual personally for all of the help and i was going to allude, jim, to the fact that maybe there were a few too many e-mails over the course of three or four years but you offered gracious assistance always and i greatly appreciate it. well, macarthur at war, world war ii in the pacific, is indeed just that. i really wanted to focus on macarthur's evolution as a
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military commander during that four-year period of time. now, i think it goes without saying that the obvious is that there is no middle ground with douglas macarthur. there are people who revered him, there are people who despise him and i think that was probably true even during his life time. it's been amazing to me, this book has been out ten weeks and it's been amazing to me to travel around the country and see how much polarization there still is 75 years after macarthur in world war ii, 50 years after the man's death, there's still a tremendous amount of polarization, either those people who are sure he was the greatest general of all time or those people who for almost knit picky reasons all the way
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down think that he was absolutely a terrible person and made no contributions. so having said that there's no middle ground with douglas macarthur, it might seem as a mission impossible for me to do what i tried to do, which was really talk about a very balanced and analytical approach to both the many, many good things that i think he did particularly this evolution during the four-year period of time as a military commander and to talk about that as well as some of his more ex as sper rating qualities. and those of you who know macarthur know that there are no shortage of those kinds of qualities. the adjectives used to describe him were never bland, whether
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they were superlatives or disdain. and thanks in large part to the research facility here, the ability to think things through, talk to scholars in the field and kind of get to the bottom of who macarthur was, and let me just mention briefly, two things that are themes and then i really want to spend some time on this evolution as a military commander thing. one of the themes that's in the book that i really found fascinating is how does a man go from someone who is relatively well known but certainly not known across the country on december 7th of 1941 and then within six months he's this absolute great american hero, a rallying cry for everything that's happening in the united states and the entire allied world at that period of time.
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well, i think there are a number of answers to that. one is certainly his ability to, in many respects, manage his own press. i think that there's also the situation you have that he's the only one during the first six months of 1942 who's really actively engaged with the army. now, the navy's out there doing some things but ernest j. king is not one to publicize things. macarthur, on the other hand, has press releases and the american public really had their eyes on the philippines and i think that a final component of maybe how he makes this transformation to great american hero is that america during these tenuous six months of 1942 really desperately need a hero. and, you know, this is absolutely the perfect setup. americans wake up on december 8th of 1941, they have heard the
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news of pearl harbor, they are reeling from that. what is the first thing that happens in their mail on monday morning, december 8th? douglas macarthur, by some just happenstance of fate, ends up on their doorstep on the cover of "life" magazine, a very auditory article by claire booth loose and really sets macarthur up as this hero in the far east. again, the timing, just by coincidence, couldn't have been more amazing. but that's actually what happened on december 8th. the other theme that i try to get into in the book is explore this whole issue of army/navy controversy, rivalry. okay? and it certainly exists because there are people on macarthur's
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staff who are really just anti-navy. we were talking last evening that sometimes i think that books come out and i can think of a number in the recent past that are really focused just on the controversy and trying to really build it up. if you read some of these things, you wonder at the end of the day, wait a minute, how did we ever win? how did these guys get together and really make things happen? and i would suggest to you that the truth of the matter is that macarthur actually worked pretty well. now, early on, you know, he's got his issues with tommy hart in the asiatic fleet in the fall of 1941 but i think he comes to work very well in what we're going to talk about at some length in terms of combined operations. i think he really does a great job of working with the navy. let me just throw out one thing as kind of an aside and give
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some of you historians in the room to think about. ernest j. king, chief of naval operations, imagine what would have happened if somebody else had been in that naval position and hadn't said, as king did, "we are going to fight a two ocean war." because king said that, there's a tremendous amount of supplies and material that flow into the pacific. now, macarthur would not have said that king was one of his strongest supporters oral lies but let me suggest to you that by promoting a two ocean global war and pouring resources into the pacific like king and the joint chiefs did that macarthur is really a beneficiary of that kind of strategy. all right. so let's talk at some length about this evolution as a military commander.
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and just in case there's some people new to macarthur, here's the 60-second bio to get us to december 7th of 1941. he's definitely a 19th century man. i think that you you need to re that when you start with douglas macarthur. he's someone who's born in 1880. his father wins the medal of honor for a charge up missionary ridge in the civil war. macarthur goes on to west point, graduates first, of course, in the class of 1903, does two tours in the philippines. he ends up in the trenches of world war i. he's chief of staff and brigade commander in the famed rainbow division. after the war he's superintendent at west point. and, hey, here's an interesting fact. did you know, since we're about to focus on the olympics in brazil, he's the head of the american delegation to the 1928 olympics in amsterdam, and in
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very, very typical macarthur fashion, he tells the american team in amsterdam, americans did not come here to lose. and america got the first place in terms of gold medals at the 1928 games. so, some people don't know that about macarthur, his involvement with that. athletics were always very important to the general. well, by 1930, he's chief of staff for herbert hoover and he stays on in that position for franklin roosevelt. 1935 he's done as being chief of staff, goes to the philippines as military adviser. 1937 he's faced with a choice of being recalled in the united states. what's he going to do? i mean, he's still relatively young. he doesn't want to go back to being a corps commander. he's done that. he resigns from the army, stays on in the philippines as field marshal of the philippine army. and as chris mentioned, he's basically recalled to active duty 75 years ago this month in the philippines to become
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commander of u.s. forces in the far east. so, december 7th -- it's december 8th in manila time -- 1941. macarthur's awoken in the morning by news of pearl harbor. and i think it's fair to say, when you look at him as a military commander that he is simply overwhelmed, as are most commanders on the american side, by the speed and the complexity with which the japanese bring the attack against the philippines, and quite frankly, across all of the pacific. it's not surprising that when we look at -- and i'm going to give you just three examples of what i think are perhaps his biggest defeats and then three examples of his biggest victories. it's no surprise that when we look at that list of big defeats that we start with clark field on december 8th of 1941. now you know, again, i'm fond of
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saying that sometimes history's shorthand doesn't get it right. i've gone around the last ten weeks and talked to people, and the critics of macarthur are always ready immediately to say, oh, yeah, macarthur, he got caught with his planes on the ground at clark field. well, yes, but those of you who know the story, it's far more complex than that in terms of what happens. operationally, the american forces at clark field really account for themselves pretty well. they get the bombers and the fighters in the air. and of course, the mistake they make is that when the second wave, the continuing wave of the japanese attack is happening, they've landed and they've gone to lunch, so that definitely is a problem. but again, the shorthand of macarthur got caught with his planes on the ground, not quite true. it's a much more complicated story than that. second, of course, is baton. the retreat to the peninsula,
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american and filipino forces. and macarthur's strategy has been, despite long years of what's called "plan orange," the defense of just the area around manila, macarthur's strategy in the fall of 1941 involves that he's going to be able to defend the entire archipelago, okay? so, he spreads out men and supplies all over the islands. and of course, the speed with which the japanese attack really overwhelmed that. and by controlling the air, they really prohibit any kind of movement of supplies or things to baton. and i think what happens in terms of that is that macarthur, again, is just almost blindsided by the speed with which the japanese attack. and let me suggest to you that one thing about macarthur is that he always worked on his own
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time, and he expected a japanese attack at some point, but he thought it was going to come in the spring of 1942. and when it comes in december in such a fury of land, air and sea attack, again, i suggest that he's simply overwhelmed. the third topic or defeat in terms of macarthur's portfolio that i'd suggest to you -- and jim duffy may talk a little bit more about this in terms of the new guinea campaign -- i think there needs to be a little scrutiny about whether or not he could have moved more quickly to reinforce boona and basically prevent the entire new guinea campaign back and forth across the crocoda trail. to macarthur's credit, he does that in terms of defending milne bay and being ready to repulse the japanese invasion there but it's an interesting period of time in july of 1942 that,
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again, there's a lot going on. and he doesn't have much resources. but it's still a situation where if he had been able to do that and able to really focus on the big picture of new guinea, he might have been able to start from boona, rather than starting from port mosby and fast-forward the war six months. so, for my take, at least, there's three macarthur defeats that by no small coincidence come very early in the war. now, the three great victories that i suggest to you are this invasion in march, late february, early march of 1944. it's ahead of schedule. it's a surprise. it completes the encirclement of erbal, and i think more importantly, it shows this thing combined operations. today we take air, land and sea acting together for granted,
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okay? in 1941 and early 1942, particularly with macarthur, this 19th-century man, he's just not ready yet. he's got to be educated a little bit. he's got to evolve as a commander. and i think, again, much to his credit, he does. he embraces combined operations in all of those areas. and i just go on quickly to say that the other two victories from '44 that i would suggest are on the great list are certainly his leap across the north coast of new guinea to ha landa and of course, his invasion and return to the philippines. in all of those operations and those three great victories, combined operations is front and center. you know, we're going to talk a little bit, too, about macarthur myths. and i think there's this myth that he was this great lone
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wolf, you know, the solitary strategist sitting there brooding. well, you know, that made good press copy. and the photographs of him there puffing on a corn cob pipe and reflecting. i mean, as i write in the book, no one's quite sure what he was thinking. maybe he's thinking about strategy and the next day's operations. maybe he's reminiscing about his father's charge of missionary ridge. nonetheless, i suggest to you that when you peel back that myth of lone wolf, it is very much to macarthur's credit that he has been able to put together a highly effective team that knows combined operations, knows their piece of that operations, and works together as a team. and we know the names. we'll just go through them briefly. it's bob eichelberger and walter krueger on land. it's tom kincaid and dan barbie with naval and amphibious operations. take barbie just as one example.
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dan barbie, his name was uncle dan the amphibious man. and he goes to work for macarthur. and the first couple assaults that he leads, my goodness, you know, there's a dozen landing craft and a couple of destroyers in 1943 off the coast of new guinea. contrast that two years later with 600 ships sitting out there in latoo gulf. it's amazing transition and implementation of america's industrial might and strength in only a short, two-year period of time, and it's a testament to macarthur's commanders. and macarthur himself, who selected these commanders, that we have a situation where they're really able to bring to bear and manage that kind of increase in forces and again bring to bear combined operations. and of course, you know, perhaps most important of all is george
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kenney and his use of air power. we certainly have a situation with the battle of the bismarck sea, march of 1943. and even prior to that, i think there's macarthur saying, oh, yeah, you know, as chief of staff, i didn't really think too much in the '30s about air power. you know, he's on record as saying, well, i don't know if the army really needs bombers. then the navy got bombers, so he needed some bombers, too. but you know, it's a situation that by watching what kenney does at the battle of the bismarck sea, macarthur really comes to embrace air power, and it really becomes an important part of all of his operations. in fact, kenney is so focused on these early advances and these early raids that would go in and seize forward air bases for his fighters. you know, the one time that they have problems with lack of air
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power, because they make kind of a leap too far, if you will? it's the invasion of latie. yes, they've got all kinds of carrier forces and that kind of support, but kenny's get a hard time in the very beginning of really getting bases established on latee. initially, he's only got two squadrons of p-38s there. this is something that's kind of an example to macarthur, that hey, you know, the air power's very important and we really always need that going forward. and of course, the other couple of things that i point out which really, i think, have to come under the umbrella of combined operations and under the umbrella of macarthur evolve g evolving -- of course, we are going to hear later today of the importance of filipino guerrillas, that whole front that goes on and remains on the island. sometimes we forget from the american side that there were a tremendous amount of australian
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troops involved. i keep waiting, by the way. i keep waiting for some historian to write a review of my book and say, you know, for a yank, borneman didn't do too bad of a job of reminding folks that, oh, yes, the australians were involved and allies. and of course, macarthur's early operations in new guinea, the bulk of those troops are indeed australian troops. and the final element of combined operations really is ultra. the operations, the kind of intelligence that permits george kenney to find that japanese convoy that's bound, make that kind of attack. and actually, the attack and the leap to hilandia, because of ultra, macarthur knows where a large concentration of japanese forces is. so, it's relatively -- i don't want to use the term easy -- but it's relatively telegraphed of what he needs to do in terms of going ahead and making that leap
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over the concentration of forces. and in retrospect, sometimes it's written about and looks like strategic genius, but it's really the fact that ultra has provided a lot of that information. well, all right, so, i think, suffice to say that macarthur really evolves during these four years as a commander. and i think it's a situation where, let's use the terms military commander and leader. and i don't necessarily use those synonymously. i think we've talked about the fact that macarthur evolves on the tactical side as a military commander, embracing combined operations and embracing air power and those kind of elements, the whole amphibious operation. but i think he also comes to evolve as a leader. we can talk about in the questions, if you want, the whole characterizations of dougout doug, et cetera, but i think macarthur is really a
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hands-on, lead from the front man who in world war i certainly shows that. again, why he didn't go to baton only one time during that terrible 90-day siege or so is i don't think something that is absolutely answerable, but the bottom line is that he goes from the "i shall return" -- and of course, franklin roosevelt and george marshall would have liked him to say, couldn't we say "we shall return"? no, that's not douglas macarthur. it was definitely "i shall return." and by doing that, that really galvanized american public opinion. "i shall return." but the early criticisms of him in terms of all of his communiques with i, i, and there's many famous diddies about macarthur's communiques.
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he really evolves with that, too, as the war goes on. and if you read some of his communiques, he almost goes on, it almost looks like movie credits by the time he credits not only the american field commanders, but the australian field commanders as well. so i think he really does a good job of evolving with that. the whole idea of being back in the field. now, you know, again, we can debate, was it really necessary for him toed with ashore at some of these places? no, probably not. he understood it was great showmanship. he understood it was great press. i think at some level, he desperately wanted to kind of wipe out some of the dugout doug characterizations, but i think there's also an element of him that he really wanted to be with his troops. he really wanted to be in the field and see what happens. kind of a perrin thperrin threa
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to the idea of this whole command evolution of combined operations -- it's command and control. how could he go ahead and basically do some of these operations and go off in the field, sometimes going off into radio silence for a couple of days, if he didn't have the kind of strong staff that he had not only picked but also delegated to? i think he would have found himself in deep trouble in terms of command and control if he didn't have that strong staff. so, i emphasize that again to you. well, let's look a little bit of some of the myths, if you will, about macarthur. we've already talked about this lone wolf status and said that he's really not. he's got this great staff. the other component of that that i think's important to remember is that he is always in a
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situation of receiving strategic directive from the joint chiefs. he's not out in the pacific as the lone wolf deciding all by himself how we're going to defeat japan. the joint chiefs of staff, again, reference to admiral king and george marshall, really are the ones who are devising a global strategy. now, just by the way, in the pacific, of course, they can never decide through most of the course of the war whether the main line of attack across the pacific is going to be chester nimitz and the navy across the central pacific or douglas macarthur and mostly the army in the southwest pacific. but be that as it may, the main directives are coming from the joint chiefs. but -- and here's the but -- i think macarthur, to his credit, is definitely a good soldier at heart who is following orders and very effectively
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implementing those kind of directives. so, as far as strategy, let's talk a little bit about island-hopping, okay? because that's kind of another macarthur myth. there's this myth that he invented island hopping, a myth that he is the one who basically said we're going to circle and isolate. well, again, the truth of the matter is that island hopping is something that's, well, hey, we could even argue that the japanese did their own form of island hopping when they leap over macarthur and 80,000 american and filipino troops on baton, okay, and basically isolate them, rather than engaging head to head. so, island hopping is something that admiral kincaid does in the
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allusi aleutians, and macarthur comes to the concept relatively late in the game as he's thinking about how he makes up time and gets along the coast of new guinea and gets back to the philippines, and of course, ultimately attacks the home islands of japan. so, this is a situation that by 1944, the joint chiefs had made a decision that they're not going to attack rabal directly, that they're going to basically isolate it and send macarthur on his way on through the rest of new guinea. and again, even if he's not the father of island hopping -- and by the way, i think you maybe understand from my prior comments that i'm almost tempted, though, to call him the father of combined operations. pretty important in that regard. so, he's not the father of island hopping. but when it comes to new guinea and the attack on hilandia and
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going on, he certainly embraces it. now, the second part of that, of course, is does he always do that? the answer's no. we're going to hear about the campaigns this afternoon in the southern philippines, mendoro and everything that goes on on mindanao, macarthur's plans in 1955. quite frankly, by the spring of 1945, he's been so successful that the joint chiefs kind of just throw up their hands and say, okay, we have got this strategy of going back and obviously attacking the home islands of japan. macarthur's down there liberating all of the southern philippines and now he's going into borneo and wants to continue operations to the south. so, it's the kind of thing that they almost throw up their hands and say, okay, macarthur's got all these resources, so we're just going to let him go and basically run with it. so again, the point of island hopping is that he does it very
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well when he chooses to do it, and i think that he really is a master and understands the concept of isolating an opponent's strength. let's talk about low casualty rates. another myth of macarthur is that, you know, he accomplished more of everything with less of everything and along the way incurred the lowest number of casualties. he said that repeatedly in his press releases. the casualty counts from the pacific simply do not bear that out. in round figures, there's about 100,000 -- now, we're just talking about american losses here -- there's about 100,000 american casualties killed in action, army, navy, air force, marines, in the pacific in the second world war. about 40% of those, 39,000,
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occur on the ground in macarthur's theater. so again, the idea that he had the lowest casualty counts of any commander, some operations that's true, but other operations, when we compare boona to guadacanal or things later on, latee and iwo jima and okinawa, the casualty rates are really pretty similar. now, there's two famous incidences of macarthur that critics usually point out to say, well, you know, the guy was really pretty callus about operations and things and the way he valued human life. and of course, the two famous examples are him telling bob eichelberger, go to boona, don't come back unless alive unless you take boona, and also tilg telling eichelberger that, what
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do you mean, your casualty counts aren't high enough, you haven't been engaged heavily enough. and of course, he has a similar conversation early in 1945 on luzon when he's bound and determined to advance against manila. so, it's true, he telling krueger, you don't seem to have big enough casualty accounts, what's going on with the advance? you need to press more heavily. those are two examples that are usually thrown up as criticism that macarthur really didn't care about troops. let me suggest to you, and jim duffy's going to show you a photo of this in a bit -- there's a great photo of macarthur and kenny on the tarmac in new guinea getting ready to launch the paratrooper assault against nadzab, and with him is colonel tolson, commander
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of the 503rd parachute registerman. look at macarthur's face when that comes up a little bit later on the screen. look at the way macarthur has his hand on tolson's sleeve. let me suggest to you that macarthur realized that he needed to expend lives, most regrettably, but it needs to be done in war, in order to accomplish objectives. but i think that at his heart, he really did have a lot of empathy for his troops and the men that he was sending into harm's way. and i would just point out, jim zobel, i don't know if you did this on purpose, but jim's book in terms of photographs and everything, when i got there and looked through it, i was struck that a lot of those photographs show macarthur in a very engaged, carrying discussion with an engaged, caring look on
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his face talking to men that, again, he's sending into harm's way. now, you know, that's not to say there's a little bit of dichotomy sometimes when macarthur would show up with his khaki gloves and his pressed uniform and everything anded with ashore and talk to people who hadn't had a shower in a couple weeks or even a good meal in a couple of weeks, splattered with mud and everything else. so, there wasn't always a great comradery between troops in the field and macarthur. they were just different personalities. but i would suggest to you at the end of the day, my research would show that the whole idea that macarthur somehow didn't care or was callous about an expenditure of lives just is not true. but let me tell you the final story about a myth that really makes me pull my hair out, okay? this is one thing that i think it's very difficult to defend
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douglas macarthur on, and that's his continuing discussion, his continuing rants, if you will, that one, he is always short of supply, okay? and number two, he's always short of men. and finally, that somehow, the powers that be in washington are out to get him. i just don't think it's true. even in the philippines in the fall of 1941, macarthur has been saying, look, i can defend all the islands, send me everything you've got. on the morning of december 8th in manila, 1941, macarthur's got more b-17 bombers in manila out at clark field than are in the entire philippines. okay, we've all seen the movie "torah torah torah" many times, the b-17s that fly into the harbor during the attack, they're supposed to continue on
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to macarthur. so, again, with limited resources, george marshall, army chief of staff, and franklin roosevelt in the fall of 1941 are pushing all kinds of -- and i document the increase in terms of the number of men but also in terms of material and planes and everything that go into the philippines. he really is getting the lion's share of what's going into the pacific. and i think that that continues for some period of time. the whole idea that he didn't have political support in washington -- of course, there's three usual suspects, if you will, that macarthur and people on his staff are always sure who are out to get him, okay? and they're the obvious three suspects -- franklin roosevelt, george marshall and dwight eisenhower. now, you remember that dwight eisenhower at this point early in 1942 is still working for
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george marshall as assistant and then chief of the war plans division. so it's really up to eisenhower to try to figure out, you know, how are they going to reinforce the philippines? and both marshall and franklin roosevelt really have a commitment to do that. and as the war goes on and there are more and more people, there are more and more supplies and everything that go into the southwest pacific theater, at one point, marshall in january of 1944 has got to write macarthur and say, would you please hurry up and unload these supply ships? you're clogging the pipeline. this is at milne bay, and they've got dozens and dozens of ships there waiting to be unloaded. macarthur through all of this, this great build-up of america's industrial strength, macarthur through all of this is basically saying, oh, i'm operating on a
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shoestring, i need more stuff. i need more material and supplies. so i understand that it's the duty of a field commander to lobby for more resources to get the job done, but let me suggest to you that i think macarthur took that to the absolute extreme. and there's an element of paranoia in his personality, not very flattering when we compare it to some of the more positive things, but there's an element there that he just could not embrace the fact that he was getting not only political suppo support, but also military support. and certainly, again, in the questions, if you wish, we could talk about his relationship with franklin roosevelt and the whole '44 presidential campaign and things like that. and marshall, roosevelt and
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eisenhower would never be singled out as people who were huge macarthur fans. but the truth of the matter is, is that they did support him, and there was a lot of material that went into the southwest pacific. all right, let me tell you the story that i think really emphasizes that. we have a situation where it is december of 1943. it's the cairo/tehran conferences. george marshall and roosevelt and the joint chiefs are in cairo. marshall could well have simply flown from cairo westward back to the united states. he doesn't. he decides to go the other way and visit both macarthur in new guinea and halsey in the solomons. now, it's an interesting story about this plane. it's a c-54 that the man who
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becomes sutherland and macarthur's pilot, weldon "dusty" rose, was actually at the controls. the co-pilot's sicker than a dog on the cockpit floor. the guy in the co-pilot's seat is sutherland, macarthur's chief of staff, who actually did a fair amount of flying, okay? so, they take off from cairo and they're flying eastward into pakistan. and you know, it's pretty dicey. it's not a regular route. there's lightning flashing all around. they get into a big storm. rhodes is there checking the map. and all of a sudden, lightning flashes and exposes these huge, towering mountain ranges on both sides of the plane. takes another look at this map, french map. oh, elevations are in meters, not feet. maybe we'd better pull back on the yoke just a little bit. quick 180 and out of there. but i mean, that's how dangerous the trip was.
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that's the point of the story. that's how dangerous marshall's trip was. and imagine, because wedemeyer is on that plane. he's going to become chief of staff to mt. baton in india. and sutherland's on the plane as macarthur's chief of staff, and marshall. so that if that plane had gone down, that could have been huge in terms of the american war effort. and i tell you that story again to emphasize how dangerous it was. so, the plane goes on and it lands in india and then eventually gets to australia. well, macarthur has been criticized for not being there in brisbane to welcome george marshall, his boss, as chief of staff. macarthur is out on good enough island, and jim's going to show you a picture of this. he's planning the invasion of new britain and the gloucester landings in december of 1943. now again, it just shows that
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those people who are on the side being absolute, no holds barred macarthur critics will go to any extreme to put the worst possible light on something. and in this case, the story isn't, well, macarthur just absolutely shunned marshall, and you know, he went to hide out on goodenough island, didn't want to invite -- well, marshall didn't feel that way, okay? and i suggest to you, and i write in the book, that i think marshall gets a lot better idea of what's going on in the southwest pacific by flying to goodenough island, by meeting with macarthur and his combined operations staff there than he would have been by being in brisbane for a day or two in some hotel room. so, from marshall's standpoint, and many, many times i would think that george marshall is sort of the thought of the earth in terms of managing his commanders -- marshall really goes and i think makes this
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effort pretty complicated, and as i power planted o epointed o effort to show macarthur that we support, we washington political establishment and military high command, we support what you're doing here. and he makes a similar stop with halsey in the solomons as he goes on. macarthur, on the other hand, says -- and let me just read you what he writes after that. macarthur says, "probably no commander in american history has been so poorly supported. at times it looked as though it was intended that i should be defeated." how can you write that? "the only thing more disingenuous was macarthur's assertion that he had "absolutely no contacts in the united states, despite almost daily messages with marshall and the war department." macarthur said, and again, i quote from one of his letters,
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"his opinions were rarely sought and my advice on important matters given little consideration." here's his final line -- "my isolation is complete." again, for all i point out about his good things, his military acumen and combined operations, it's just almost crazy to me to use that term that he can't accept that people are supporting him. george marshall's just flown halfway around the world to prove it. and by the way, george marshall dispatches high-ranking george lincoln as a brigadier general who does it after the alta conference, but after each of the major global planning conferences, marshall sees that a high-level officer on marshall's staff goes to wherever macarthur is and delivers the talk and gives the report in terms of what's
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happened. okay, final story, jim. people ask me, well, do you have a favorite macarthur story? and first time i got that question, i'm kind of like, well, i wrote about the four 5-star admirals. i usually have a story that encapsulates each of their personalities and gets a chuckle as well, but i don't really have a story like that about macarthur, and i think that's in part because how complex a man on all sides of the compass he was. so let me give you my macarthur story and just let you pond eer it. there's no punch line, and it's not a humorous story. it's the second day of the pd bill and the escape from cregador. they're waiting it out on an island. japanese forces may appear,
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aircraft at any time. it's hot. macarthur's 62 years old. that's old by the standards of the time. he's worried about his young wife. he's worried about little arthur. this is not the way he intended his tenure in the philippines to end. he doesn't know what's going to happen. and again, let me suggest to you, and let me suggest particularly to macarthur's critics, that i think they would do well to look at that particular moment, because i think on that hot desert island late that day, as the sun scorched and they had to decide whether they were going to make another run at night, trying to wait for a submarine or whatever they were going to do -- late on that afternoon, macarthur really reaches into the depths of his personality and finds a steely resolve that really leads him forward through the course of
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the war, and i think it accentuates both his more positive, better qualities. i think it also accentuates some of his leadership, or excuse me, some of his weaknesses. but on both sides, evolving as a leader and perhaps being exasperating on a few of the things that we've talked about, i think that moment is a pretty defining time. so where then does douglas macarthur stand three-quarters of a century from the four-year period of both his greatest triumphs and his defeats? on september 2nd, 1945, after four years at war, one thing was certain about douglas macarthur and his place in history. his rhetoric, however hyperbolic at times, and his characterization of events, however overstated embellished as facts sometimes, had nonetheless served to generate
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an enormous rallying cry for the american-australian people in the dark days of 1942. responsible though he was for much of the debacle in the philippines, he had miraculously escaped on presidential orders, and the great majority of the allied world was left with no doubt that he would return. he was their inspiration, their rallying point and their synonym for victory. macarthur acknowledged one american commentator early in 1944 "provided his countryman with a badly needed idol at a time when the military altar was almost bare of icons." and the american people continued to embrace him even as other heroes joined him on the altar. asked in march of 1945 to name the greatest american general of the war, 43% chose macarthur. eisenhower came in second with
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31%. patton was third with 17%. macarthur always carried with him an indomitable will to win. was ingrained in his genes. it was his most laudable quality. there is, as he would go on to say, no substitute for victory. a concept, by the way, that i think was much, much clearer in world war ii than it would become even five short years later in korea. he fit the times perfectly. douglas macarthur's most important contribution in history was to be the hero who rallied america and its allies when they were at low eb and to become the symbol of determined resolve so desperately needed in the grim days of 1942. it was a role of a lifetime and he played it brilliantly. he was macarthur at war. thanks.
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[ applause ] >> we're going to take a few questions. >> yes. >> i'd be glad to do so. >> yeah, if you -- can you hear that? yeah, okay. if you have any questions, please come to the microphone here and ask your question. >> i'm bonato lagarda who just published a book on the japanese occupation. i lived in manila. number one, you said that the announcement of the two ocean war favored macarthur. that's what i don't get from morrison's history of naval operations, because he said that the pacific got 30% or less of total resources until well into 1943. the second one is macarthur's "i
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shall return" or "we shall return." by saying "i shall return," he put a face on that and that caused a rallying point for the filipino people. >> sure. glad to respond, doctor. you know, i think that the first thing is that you need to remember that in terms of supplies and support that were going to the philippines -- or into the pacific -- you're absolutely right about the 30% number. but you've got to remember that the united states had adopted, along with great britain, a germany first plan. and by that time, of course, we're about to be engaged in the war in europe, and there's some people, actually, who think that nothing should go to the pacific, no commitment in terms of returning to the philippines, no commitment to fighting japan, because they're going to defeat germany first and be done with it.
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that's where i think king is so important, because king says three things and basically sells the joint chiefs on them. one, we're going to defend australia and make a bastian in terms of effecting a return to the philippines. two, we're going to go ahead and make absolutely sure that there is the defense of the west coast hawaii lifeline to australia. and three, in order to do that, we're not only going to bulk up resources, but we're going to counterattack against the japanese in the solomons. so, king really is the one who's pushing. and again, i'd say macarthur's the beneficiary of that, gives him cover to do some operations. as to your point about we versus "i shall return," sir, i agree with you 100%. "i shall return" really put a personal face on it, not just for your people, the filipino people, but for americans, australians, everybody.
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it became very, very personal, and macarthur personifies the response and the war effort in the pacific. definitely agree with you on that. it's, again, one of the stronger points. >> my name is chris larson, and my father was in stick. as a child, i was one through four. my mother and i, my baby sister and my philippine nana ran through manila to get to stick on the 5th of january 1945. how we survived, i have no idea. my question is, what is your opinion of what happened in the hours after pearl harbor was bombed? there are all kinds of stories out there about sutherland let macarthur sleep. there are stories out there about how a number or several of
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the top officers in the air force there wanted to go ahead and attack formosa before the first japanese flights came over. but there are perhaps half a dozen stories that i read about. i lecture about world war ii and the pacific, especially the philippines, to universities and schools. and i haven't been able to find what actually happened there, and i'm interested in your opinion. >> i'm not sure that anyone knows definitively what happened. let me tell you and start with a story that, you know, a lot of people have written as historians that, macarthur answered it. thanks to the oral history collection here at macarthur memorial, jean macarthur says that she answered the phone and passed the phone to the general. that's the way i've chosen to write it because i don't think that, again, as a historian
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scrutinizing that story, why would jean make that up? why would jean not have that detail firm in her mind? so, it's sutherland who places the call, but it's jean macarthur who answers the phone, hands it to the general, and of course, then we go on that morning from there. it's absolutely true. and i think this is one of the things that i wish there was a definitive answer to -- why did macarthur, as he waited through the hours that morning, not let commander of his air forces into his office and discuss things? why did he not summon -- and i haven't been able to find the record that he met tommy hart with the asianic fleet? he will criticize hart up and down. and for hart's side, let's face it, he had limited resources,
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but is it macarthur's decision, or is sutherland being the absolute pit bull gatekeeper, not letting brareton in? he goes back and forth from i think nichols field to macarthur's headquarters, and he goes back and forth a couple of times, and that's why out at clark field, he's really a lieutenant colonel who decides based on the reports of the early strikes on northern luzon that they're going to scramble the bombers and the fighters. and of course, the short story of that, you know, is a fog settles into formosa, they can't get all of the attack off. the americans think, okay, they've hit in the northern luzon, that's all there is. they reland the bombers and on. but this period of time, and i would be interested to hear what some other people think -- i think there's some conflicting issues in macarthur's brain about how quickly he should really launch the attack,
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implement rainbow five. his orders -- if the philippines are attacked -- and he knows well they have been, are to launch a counterattack, we could argue how effective 35 b-17s would have been at that point. but i think if there is an answer, okay, i think part of it is what i alluded to before about macarthur being a 19th-century man and working on macarthur's timetable. he just had not yet fully grasped how quickly events were going to move, how quickly events were moving that morning. i think he procrastinated and waited. yes, ma'am? >> in my reading -- my name's gwen muddle st ldl lmuddleston, an engineer in the northern
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philippine islands. in all my reading, my father -- you know, i was so young, i don't know anything really about the truth of what i'm telling you. but my father insisted all his living days after coming back from that war that the chinese had a great deal of information about the coming attack by the japanese on pearl harbor and the philippines. and it was on the behalf of my family that the chinese told my dad, you must get your family to manila and you must get out. so, my dad did that. my question is, in all my reading, i read nothing about the influence of the chinese or the lack of influence or anything about -- and yet, they were right there with the japanese on their doorsteps. they had already suffered from japanese incursions. why is there nothing about what we knew or didn't know from the
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chinese, or were they not talking to the americans? >> absolutely. the japanese and the chinese, of course, had been fighting one another since 1937. huge war going on with its ups and downs. and i don't know the answer to the specifics because i don't know specifically the reports of what you mention from your father. but you know, i would suggest that part of it is that china is really in chaos. i mean, that's a characterization that we could apply to china a lot of times. so i don't really know how much communication is going back and forth between the americans in china. and of course, there are americans there, including an ambassador at that point. so, that's not a very good answer to your question, but i just don't know that story of that kind of chinese involvement. certainly, as the filipino
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delegation may point out this afternoon, you know, there were a lot of japanese spies that were in the islands at that point looking at resources. yes, sir? >> my name is james morningstar. can you explain your impression of macarthur's evolution as a commander of unconventional warfare, especially his relationships to the guerrilla warfare in the philippines? thank you. >> well, i think that macarthur came to realize that he was dealing in a very special geographic area. there's this expanse of water, of rugged islands and things. and unlike the static trenches of world war i, i think at the core of combined operations is that he really realized he needed to be flexible, he really needed to be mobile. i mean, he doesn't say that in the beginning. it's kenney, for example, who says, well, why are we sending these troops to ship? i'll just fly them up there on
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dc-3s. and that kind of mobility really had to be visited on macarthur relatively early. and the same thing -- and again, hopefully, we'll hear more of the story this afternoon -- the same thing in terms of guerrillas and things on the philippin philippines. macarthur is not someone who's used to waging war that way, again, because of 19th-century man and static trenches of the first world war. but i think because of reports that he gets, not only in terms of intelligence, but also the fact that this is the resistance that he wished that wainwright and others had continued to engage on in the islands. i think he comes to embrace that. yes, sir. >> i have more of a process question, less content. >> sure. >> as an author and historian, can you talk us through from the idea for this book through initial research, more in-depth research, structure and narrative to actual publication?
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do you have a set process, or is it different with each work and topic you're addressing? >> i'd be glad to answer that. i have a pretty set process. this is my eighth major american history book with new york publishers. and i think that i wouldn't say that it gets easier, but there is a process in terms of i know what i need to do from proposal to outline to actually research and then writing. i did a book called "the admirals," which is about america's four and five-star admirals. and when i did that, quite frankly, i have a chapter in there called, from the navy point of view, called "fighting the japanese-and macarthur." so, maybe i could be blamed for a little bit of that army/navy rivalry, but at the time, i had no idea. that was about seven or eight years ago, that i was going to go ahead and write about macarthur. but i was kind of encouraged to
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do that, both by my publisher and my editor and my agent, and it always seems to be a collaborative approach among the three of us about where i'm going to go next. and then i'm the kind of guy, i may have a real short-term attention span or something. you know, i can't go and research an entire book. i've got to begin to research from a chapter outline and then write very, very quickly. that's not to say that i don't go through many, many different variations of that. i do. thank you, computers. but i also go ahead and stay pretty close to that process in terms of outline and everything. and quite frankly, we get to the end and maps and photos are important. and in this particular book -- when was i here, jim? at least four times, as well as as he pointed out, many e-mails along the process.
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and that's just an important part. one thing, and theresa, i don't mean to put you on the spot, but as an academic, sometimes as a private historian, as i am, i miss some of the give-and-take a little bit that you might find in faculty rooms or from colleagues on an academic basis. and fortunately, in every book, and in this book, i dedicated to my friend, paul miles, at princeton, i really find that that kind of back-and-forth, the lunches that zobel and i have had with visiting people from here, like peter williams from australia, i find that very valuable because i don't have quite the kind of network that maybe some folks do. did that help? >> absolutely. >> okay. >> thank you. >> all right. can we take one more, jim? >> yeah, one or two more. >> one or two, okay. yes, sir. >> i have a suggestion for an idea for norfolk and the rest of
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the hampton roads area. i believe this will increase tourism a slight bit. sorry for the crazy tourists, but it might help us make more money. let's give a shout to all the world war ii veterans in here. >> yeah, indeed. [ applause ] you, especially the poets, may like this idea. well, i have a plan to construct a full-scale plane replica of a tbd devastair. i was inspired by marine george gay's book "sole survivor." he talked about how he wanted to build a replica of this plane, but he died in 1994 before he could. i'm on a mission to do that for him. and i'm just wondering how many people here would approve of that?
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how many people -- yes. and i do have a few questions. are you going to be writing a book about macarthur's involvement in korea, because that was pretty interesting as well? >> i'm not going to be writing about korea. i don't know, should we give a commercial to brands? bill brands has a book that will be out in the fall called "the general and the president," about that. and let me just say and sort of finish up with your comment about world war ii veterans. as i have done these books, both "the admirals" and "macarthur at war," i think the thing that's been most touching to me and most rewarding to me are the world war ii vets that i've come to know. chris mentioned, it's the beginning of the 75th anniversary of world war ii. by the time we're done, five years from now, and we celebrate the victory on the deck of the "missouri," there are not going to be many world war ii veterans around anymore. and i've always thanked them for their service. it's amazing the number of
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people who come to me with stories, stories, to your point about process and how i go through a book, stories that inevitably i wish that i had had for the book. but there's always people -- and jim, you know most recently, i e-mailed this last week. somebody said, you know, i think that my father-in-law had this box of letters. he was on macarthur's staff. i said, hey, you've got to get this to norfolk. it's part of history. it needs to be preserved. so, i'm going to go sign books. thank you all very much for coming. american history tv airs on c-span3 every weekend, telling the american story through events, interviews and visiting historic locations. our features include lectures in history, visits to college classrooms across the country to hear lectures by top history
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professors. american artifacts takes a look at the treasures at u.s. historic sites, museums and archives. real america, revealing the 20th century through archival films and news reels. the civil war, where you hear about the people who shaped the civil war and reconstruction. and the presidency focuses on u.s. presidents and first ladies to learn about their politics, policies and legacies. american history tv, every weekend on c-span3. c-span is in denver, colorado, learning more about the city's rich history. the mile high city was built on the boom and bust of the silver industry. we visited the history colorado center to learn more about the silver mining crash of 1893. >> the gold rush begins in 1859, actually in the denver area where gold was first discovered. but silver mining really hits its heyday in the 1880s, late
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