General MacArthur Was Fired For Escalating the War
When war broke out in Korea there was little question over who would be sent to help lead the charge. General Douglas MacArthur was skilled, battle hardened, and had proved himself in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The UN asked the American government to pick a leader for the United Nations Command in Korea, and the Joint Chiefs unanimously picked MacArthur.
At first, President Truman was willing to defer to MacArthur. The General planned an amphibious landing at Inchon which proved to be successful, allowing them to recapture Seoul. The initial success of MacArthur led to Truman awarding him his fifth Distinguished Service Cross in October 1950. It was during this meeting that Truman questioned MacArthur over concerns of the Chinese threat if they pushed too far into North Korea. MacArthur dismissed those fears.
By November 1950 there were rumors that the Chinese had entered the fighting, but MacArthur, after flying over the front lines, believed that there wasn’t a significant number of Chinese forces and decided to push forward. He was mistaken, as the Chinese troops were hiding during his flyover. On November 25, 1950, the Chinese Army attacked and the UN forces were forced to retreat.
When MacArthur regained the upper hand, Truman saw an opportunity to negotiate a peace settlement. However, MacArthur called China and urged them to admit defeat. He also wrote a letter to the House of Representatives detailing the need for all-out victory in Korea. Truman then relieved MacArthur of duty in Korea. Truman would later say that he fired MacArthur for refusing to “respect the authority of the President” and that he would have fired him “for being a dumb son of a bitch” but that that was not against the law for Generals.