Still No Substitute for Victory
Wars must be won. It sounds simple, even axiomatic. But it is an American goal that has not been achieved since World War II. Within the next few years, we may pay in blood for that timidity.
In 1950, North Korea, a puppet Communist state of the Soviet Union and China, attacked South Korea, an American protectorate, by sending troops across their common border. President Harry Truman summoned the architect of the Pacific war, Douglas MacArthur, to destroy the Stalinist state that had launched the attack. Then China, with its sea of soldiers, entered the war.
MacArthur took two positions: (1) arm the nationalists of Chiang Kai-Shek to invade mainland China, and (2) prevent Chinese troops from entering the fight by using tactical atomic weapons against the hordes crossing the Yalu River. In defense of his strategy, the general wrote to the president, "There is no substitute for victory." MacArthur was fired.
The liberal press hailed Harry for his statesmanship when his decision made him unpopular. The elite only glorified the president more when he was forced to refrain from a re-election run in 1952. They ridiculed the American public for giving MacArthur a ticker-tape parade while "giving Harry hell."
The result of Truman's action was that America, with its 1950 population of about 150 million, was locked in a land war with a country of about 563 million. Even with superior technology, America could not win such a war so long as it could not use its best arms and its most motivated allies to attack those who would ally with its enemy.
The war was fought to a stalemate, and North Korea survived. A bamboo curtain was then drawn throughout East Asia to protect a new Chinese sphere of influence
Building upon Truman's rejection of the MacArthur Doctrine, the United States refused to invade North Vietnam during that war. We waited, in fear of China, until North Vietnam invaded the South and the war was lost
Today, this Truman Doctrine of limited war has resulted in our ignoring the Iranian makers of weapons used to fight Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, back in East Asia, Korea's Pusan Peninsula has become an American outpost with its back to the sea. There we await, occasioned sometimes by failure and sometimes by success, the development of a North Korean orbital or suborbital nuclear warhead capable of threatening North America, the development of which is protected by the still-Red Chinese.
Our limited wars, whether waged by Democrats or Republicans, have done us little good. A decade ago, President George W. Bush recognized that there was an "axis of evil" from Iran to Iraq to North Korea. Today, Iran and North Korea are deep into the development of a space program supposedly in search of science, but actually in search of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
And, with respect to Iraq, our limited war there has only installed Iranian allies into the power structure. In fact, so tight are today's leaders of Iran with those of Iraq that the Iranians have insisted on holding their nuclear talks in Baghdad.
The failure to defeat China at the Yalu River has now rendered us impotent to confront the current North Korean threat not only to South Korea, but also to the mainland of the United States. The idea of limited war first put forth by Harry Truman now forces us to wait and watch while North Korea perfects its nuclear delivery system and starves its people.
That same paralyzing fear of a "wider war" also puts America on the sidelines while a space nuclear missile system is negotiated in Iraq and perfected in Iran.
During the 20th century, there were several generals far ahead of their times, despised by the politicians but appreciated by the general public. Certainly there was Billy Mitchell. And perhaps, with some debate, one could add George Patton. But the general to whom America owes its greatest apology is clearly Douglas MacArthur, the man who was accused of trying to start World War III, but, in reality, could have prevented that war, which we may be still doomed to fight.
To paraphrase MacArthur, the only substitute for victory is a future war with the evil we failed to defeat.
Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican Party. Contact him at Law52@prodigy.net.
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