General Douglas MacArthur
Photo by U.S. Army Signal Corps - 1947
Provided to The Korean War Educator by:
David Valley, San Diego, CA, Chairman
General MacArthur Honor Guard Association
(Click the picture for a larger view)
"Mr. President, Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Members of the Congress: I stand on this rostrum with a
sense of deep humility and pride - humility in the wake of those great architects of our history who have
stood here before me, pride in the reflection that this home of legislative debate represents human liberty
in the purest form yet devised.
Here are centered the hopes and aspirations and faith and failures of the entire human race.
I do not stand here as advocate for any partisan cause, for the issues are fundamental and reach quite
beyond the realm of partisan considerations. They must be resolved on the highest plane of national interest
if our course is to prove sound and our future protected.
I trust, therefore, that you will do me the justice of receiving that which I have to say as solely
expressing the considered viewpoint of a fellow American.
I address you with neither rancor nor bitterness in the fading twilight of life, with but one purpose in
mind: To serve my country.
The issues are global, and so interlocked that to consider the problems of one sector oblivious to those
of another is to court disaster for the whole. While Asia is commonly referred to as the gateway to Europe,
it is no less true that Europe is the gateway to Asia, and the broad influence of the one cannot fail to
have its impact upon the other. There are those who claim our strength is inadequate to protect on both
fronts, that we cannot divide our effort. I can think of no greater expression of defeatism.
If a potential enemy can divide its strength on two fronts, it is for us to counter his effort. The
Communist threat is a global one. Its successful advance in one sector threatens the destruction of every
other sector. You cannot appease or otherwise surrender to Communism in Asia without simultaneously
undermining our efforts to halt its advance in Europe.
Beyond pointing out these general truisms, I shall confine my discussion to the general areas of Asia.
Before one may objectively assess the situation now existing there, he must comprehend something of
Asia’s past and the revolutionary changes which have marked her course up to the present. Long exploited by
the so-called colonial powers, with little opportunity to achieve any degree of social justice, individual
dignity or a higher standard of life such as guided our own noble administration in the Philippines, the
people of Asia found their opportunity in the war just past to throw off the shackles of colonialism and now
see the dawn of new opportunity, and heretofore unfelt dignity, and the self-respect of political freedom.
Mustering half of the earth’s population, and 60 percent of its natural resources, these peoples are
rapidly consolidating a new force, both moral and material, with which to raise the living standard and
erect adaptation of the design of modern progress to their own distinct cultural environments.
Whether one adheres to the concept of colonialization or not, this is the direction of Asian progress and
it may not be stopped. It is a corollary to the shift of the world economic frontiers as the whole epicenter
of world affairs rotates back toward the area whence it started.
In this situation, it becomes vital that our own country orient its policies in consonance with this
basic evolutionary condition rather than pursue a course blind to reality that the colonial era is now past
and the Asian peoples covet the right to shape their own free destiny. What they seek now is friendly
guidance, understanding and support, not imperious direction, the dignity of equality and not the shame of
Their prewar standard of life, pitifully low, is infinitely lower now in the devastation left in war’s
wake. World ideologies play little part in Asian thinking and are little understood.
What the people strive for is the opportunity for a little more food in their stomachs, a little better
clothing on their backs and a little firmer roof over their heads, and the realization of the normal
nationalist urge for political freedom.
These political-social conditions have but an indirect bearing upon our own national security, but do
form a backdrop to contemporary planning which must be thoughtfully considered if we are to avoid the
pitfalls of unrealism.
Of more direct and immediate bearing upon our national security are the changes wrought in the strategic
potential of the Pacific Ocean in the course of the past war.
Prior thereto the Western strategic frontier of the United States lay on the littoral line of the
Americas, with an exposed island salient extending out through Hawaii, Midway and Guam to the Philippines.
That salient proved not an outpost of strength but an avenue of weakness along which the enemy could and did
attack. The Pacific was a potential area of advance for any predatory force intent upon striking at the
bordering land areas.
All this was changed by our Pacific victory. Our strategic frontier then shifted to embrace the entire
Pacific Ocean, which became a vast moat to protect us as long as we held it. Indeed, it acts as a protective
shield for all of the Americas and all free lands of the Pacific Ocean area. We control it to the shores of
Asia by a chain of islands extending in an arc from the Aleutians to the Mariannas, held by us and our free
From this island chain we can dominate with sea and air power every Asiatic port from Vladivostok to
Singapore and prevent any hostile movement into the Pacific.
Any predatory attack from Asia must be an amphibious effort. No amphibious force can be successful
without control of the sea lanes and the air over those lanes in its avenue of advance. With naval and air
supremacy and modest ground elements to defend bases, any major attack from continental Asia toward us or
our friends in the Pacific would be doomed to failure.
Under such conditions, the Pacific no longer represents menacing avenues of approach for a prospective
invader. It assumes, instead, the friendly aspect of a peaceful lake.
Our line of defense is a natural one and can be maintained with a minimum of military effort and expense.
It envisions no attack against anyone, nor does it provide the bastions essential for the offensive
operations, but properly maintained, would be an invincible defense against aggression.
The holding of this littoral defense line in the Western Pacific is entirely dependent upon holding all
segments thereof, for any major breach of that line by an unfriendly power would render vulnerable to
determined attack every other major segment. This is a military estimate as to which I have yet to find a
military leader who will take exception.
For that reason, I have strongly recommended in the past, as a matter of military urgency, that under no
circumstances must Formosa fall under Communist control. Such an eventuality would at once threaten the
freedom of the Philippines and the loss of Japan, and might well force our Western Frontier back to the
coast of California, Oregon and Washington.
To understand the changes which now appear upon the Chinese mainland, one must understand the changes in
Chinese character and culture over the past 50 years. China up to 50 years ago was completely
non-homogenous, being compartmented into groups divided against each other. The war-making tendency was
almost non-existent as they still followed the tenets of the Confucian ideal of pacifist culture.
At the turn of the century under the regime of Chang Tso-Lin efforts toward greater homogeneity produced
the start of a nationalist urge. This was further and more successfully developed under the leadership of
Chiang Kai-shek, but has been brought to its greatest fruition under the present regime to the point that it
has now taken on the character of a united nationalism of increasingly dominant aggressive tendencies.
Through the past 50 years the Chinese people have thus become militarized in their concepts and in their
ideals. They now constitute excellent soldiers, with competent staffs and commanders. This has produced a
new and dominant power in Asia, which, for its own purposes, is allied with Soviet Russia but which in its
own concepts and methods has become aggressively imperialistic, with a lust for expansion and increased
power normal to this type of imperialism.
There is little of the ideological concept either way or another in the Chinese makeup. The standard of
living is so low and the capital accumulation has been so thoroughly dissipated by war that the masses are
desperate and eager to follow any leadership which seems to promise the alleviation of woeful stringencies.
I have from the beginning believed that the Chinese Communists’ support of the North Koreans was the
dominant one. Their interests are at present parallel with those of the Soviet, but I believe that the
aggressiveness recently displayed not only in Korea but also in Indo-China and Tibet and pointing
potentially toward the south reflects predominantly the same lust for the expansion of power which has
animated every would-be conqueror since the beginning of time.
The Japanese people since the war have undergone the greatest reformation recorded in modern history.
With a commendable will, eagerness to learn, and marked capacity to understand, they have from the ashes
left in war’s wake erected in Japan an edifice dedicated to the supremacy of individual liberty and personal
dignity, and in the ensuing process there has been created a truly representative government committed to
the advance of political morality, freedom of economic enterprise, and social justice.
Politically, economically, and socially Japan is now abreast of many free nations of the earth and will
not again fail the universal trust.
That it may be counted upon to wield a profoundly beneficial influence over the course of events in Asia
is attested by the magnificent manner in which the Japanese people have met the recent challenge of war,
unrest and confusion surrounding them from the outside and checked Communism within their own frontiers
without the slightest slackening in their forward progress.
I sent all four of our occupation divisions to the Korean battle front without the slightest qualms as to
the effect of the resulting power vacuum upon Japan. The results fully justified my faith.
I know of no nation more serene, orderly and industrious, nor in which higher hopes can be entertained
for future constructive service in the advance of the human race.
Of our former ward in the Philippines we can look forward in confidence that the existing unrest will be
corrected and a strong and healthy nation will grow in the longer aftermath of the war’s terrible
destructiveness. We must be patient and understanding and never fail them, as in our hour of need they did
not fail us.
A Christian nation, the Philippines stands as a mighty bulwark of Christianity in the Far East, and its
capacity for high moral leadership in Asia is unlimited.
On Formosa, the government of the Republic of China has had the opportunity to refute by action much of
the malicious gossip which so undermined the strength of its leadership on the Chinese mainland. The Formosa
people are receiving a just and enlightened administration with majority representation in the organs of
government, and politically, economically and socially they appear to be advancing upon sound and
With this brief insight into the surrounding areas, I now turn to the Korean conflict.
While I was not consulted prior to the President’s decision to intervene in support of the Republic of
Korea, that decision, from a military standpoint, proved a sound one. As I say, it proved to be a sound one,
as we hurled back the invader and decimated his forces. Our victory was complete, and our objectives within
reach, when Red China intervened with numerically superior ground forces.
This created a new war and an entirely new situation, a situation not contemplated when our forces were
committed against the North Korean invaders; a situation which called for new decisions in the diplomatic
sphere to permit the realistic adjustment of military strategy. Such decisions have not been forthcoming.
While no man in his right mind would advocate sending our ground forces into continental China, and such
was never given thought, the new situation did urgently demand a drastic revision of strategic planning if
our political aim was to defeat this new enemy as we had defeated the old one.
Apart from the military need, as I saw it, to neutralize sanctuary protection given the enemy north of
the Yalu, I felt that military necessity in the conduct of the war made necessary (1) the intensification of
our economic blockade against China, (2) the imposition of a naval blockade against the China coast, (3)
removal of restrictions on air reconnaissance of China’s coastal area and of Manchuria, (4) removal of
restrictions on the forces of the Republic of China on Formosa, with logistical support to contribute to
their effective operations against the Chinese mainland.
For entertaining these views, all professionally designed to support our forces in Korea and to bring
hostilities to an end with the least possible delay and at a saving of countless American and Allied lives,
I have been severely criticized in lay circles, principally abroad, despite my understanding that from a
military standpoint the above views have been fully shared in the past by practically every military leader
concerned with the Korean campaign, including our own joint chiefs of staff.
I called for reinforcements, but was informed that reinforcements were not available. I made clear that
if not permitted to destroy the enemy built-up bases north of the Yalu, if not permitted to utilize the
friendly Chinese force of some 600,000 men on Formosa, if not permitted to blockade the China Coast to
prevent the Chinese Reds from getting succor from without, and if there was to be no hope of major
reinforcements, the position of the command from the military standpoint forbade victory.
We could hold in Korea by constant maneuver and in an area where our supply line advantages were in
balance with the supply line disadvantages of the enemy, but we could hope at best for only an indecisive
campaign with its terrible and constant attrition upon our forces if the enemy utilized its full military
I have constantly called for the new political decision essential to a solution.
Efforts have been made to distort my position. It has been said in effect that I was a warmonger. Nothing
could be further from the truth.
I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long
advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless
as a means of settling international disputes.
Indeed, the second day of September, 1945, just following the surrender of the Japanese nation on the
Battleship Missouri, I formally cautioned as follows:
‘Men, since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have been attempted
to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start
workable methods were found insofar as individual citizens were concerned, but the mechanics of an
instrumentality of larger international scope have never been successful.
‘Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to
be by war of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have
had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at
our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence, and improvement of
human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all
the material and cultural developments of the past 2,000 years.
‘It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.
‘But once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to
bring it to a swift end. War’s very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.
‘In war indeed there can be no substitute for victory.’
There are some who for varying reasons would appease Red China. They are blind to history’s clear lesson,
for history teaches with unmistakable emphasis that appeasement but begets new and bloodier wars. It points
to no single instance where this end has justified the means, where appeasement has led to more than a sham
Like blackmail, it lays the basis for new and successively greater demands until, as in blackmail,
violence becomes the only other alternative. Why, my soldiers asked me, surrender military advantages to an
enemy in the field? I could not answer.
Some may say to avoid spread of the conflict into an all-out war with China. Others, to avoid Soviet
intervention. Neither explanation seems valid, for China is already engaging with the maximum power it can
commit, and the Soviet will not necessarily mesh its action with our moves. Like a cobra, any new enemy will
more likely strike wherever it feels that the relativity of military and other potentialities is in its
favor on a worldwide basis.
The tragedy of Korea is further heightened by the fact that its military action was confined to its
territorial limits. It condemns that nation, which it is our purpose to save, to suffer the devastating
impact of full naval and air bombardment while the enemy’s sanctuaries are fully protected from such attack
Of the nations of the world, Korea alone, up to now, is the sole one which has risked it all against
Communism. The magnificence of the courage and fortitude of the Korean people defies description. They have
chosen to risk death rather than slavery. Their last words to me were: "Don’t scuttle the Pacific."
I have just left your fighting sons in Korea. They have done their best there, and I can report to you
without reservation that they are splendid in every way.
It was my constant effort to preserve them and end this savage conflict honorably and with the least loss
of time and a minimum sacrifice of life. Its growing bloodshed has caused me the deepest anguish and
anxiety. Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always.
I am closing my 52 years of military service. When I joined the Army, even before the turn of the
century, it was the fulfillment of all of my boyish hopes and dreams. The world has turned over many times
since I took the oath at West Point, and the hopes and dreams have all since vanished, but I still remember
the refrain of one of the most popular barracks ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that old
soldiers never die; they just fade away.
And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old
soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-by."