This day in history, May 3, 1951, the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees began their hearings into the dismissal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur by President Harry S. Truman. MacArthur had a more extremist view on how to fight the Cold War.
MacArthur served as commander of U.S. forces during the Korean War until 1951, however in late 1950, he made a serious strategic blunder when he dismissed warnings that the People’s Republic of China would enter the conflict on the side of its communist ally, North Korea. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops came to the aid of North Korea in November 1950, driving the U.S. troops back with heavy losses. MacArthur, who had earlier complained about President Truman’s handling of the war, publicly attacked the president on his Cold War policies as being too timid. He also asked for permission to carry out bombing attacks against China and to expand the war. President Truman refused, believing that expanding the war would lead to a possible confrontation with the Soviet Union and World War III.
On April 11, 1951, President Truman removed MacArthur from his command. Though Truman clearly did not appreciate MacArthur’s approach, the American public liked his tough stance on communism.
On May 3, 1951, just a few days after MacArthur’s return to the United States, the Senate Armed Forces and Foreign Relations Committees began hearings into his dismissal. MacArthur was the featured witness, and he spoke for more than six hours at the opening session of the hearings condemning Truman’s Cold War foreign policy. He suggested that only through a strategy of complete military destruction of the communist empire could the U.S. hope to win the Cold War.
The hearings ended after seven weeks, with no definite conclusions reached about MacArthur’s dismissal. However, the public came to realize that the general’s extremist stance and need for an expanded conflict against communism during the hearings was not in the country’s best interest.