After avoiding David McCullough’s book, Truman, mostly because of it’s odd cover and also due to ignorance of the contents, I finally gave in and picked up an abridged version from the library. I have to admit that I have not been so impressed with a man since reading about Abraham Lincoln in Team of Rivals : The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. I do not have time to dive into the details of the book this morning, but that will come.
My main focus is on the simple fact that Truman essentially avoided a Third World War by not attacking China during the Korean War. He kept it as a UN operation, though the US bore the brunt of the carnage (aside from the Korean people), and he opposed those, such as General McArthur, who advocated the use of nuclear weapons. When McArthur had failed to obey his orders and began to escalate the conflict with the Chinese, Truman sacked a very popular general. Though only a small group approved of the decision at the time, Truman knew he was right. He decided to wait out the storm of public outcry and let his actions stand the test of time. They have.
During the hearings that examined the necessity of McArthur’s dismissal, General Omar Bradley testified against McArthur. Bradley claimed that McArthur had disobeyed orders from the joint chiefs and had gone beyond the limits of his own authority. In trying to start a war with China, Bradley made the oft-quoted statement, “It’s the wrong war, at the wrong place, and the wrong time.” I hope that sounds familiar.
Apparently John Kerry or someone close to him knows a thing or two about history