Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monarchist MacArthur

. Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I was surprised to read in Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries (a jolly good book in which I shall provide a later review) that General Douglas MacArthur was a lifelong monarchist, and apparently even a member of the Royal Stuart Society, after that monarchist society was established in 1926. Prominent Americans are not (never?) renown for this.

Photo of General Douglas MacArthur inscribed to Admiral Nimitz

Mind you, when you look at the man - his jaunty appearance, that invincible confidence of his, the trademark corncob pipe, the way he carried his riding crop like it was a royal sceptre, or - and especially - here, seated as if upon his throne, photographed in a French chateau at the Front in September 1918. Vanity and hubris was the stuff of the future "American Caesar", who as Supreme Commander seemed to run the war as if it were a one-man show. The old soldier of the ballad acted the part of an absolute monarch.

And indeed he did as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers and military ruler over that of defeated Japan, which included the Emperor himself. When MacArthur confirmed that the emperor's abdication would not be necessary, he did so over the objections of many members of the imperial family as well as Japanese intellectuals who called for abdication and the implementation of a regency. While the decision to constitutionalize the monarchy in occupied Japan and to establish a Westminster parliamentary democracy would have ultimately required the approval of the American government (with input from the Allies), MacArthur no doubt wielded enormous influence in those discussions, and indeed operated with unilateral control over Japanese reforms until about 1948, when the U.S. State Department stepped in.

As we prepare to mark the 65th anniversary of the Japanese surrender this September 2nd, how about a toast to the old soldier who did his duty as God gave him the sight to see that duty; who now sleeps without the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, and the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.


Anonymous said...

Just one anecdote here: It has been reported that when MacArthur was relieved of command by President Truman in April of 1951, that Japanese imperial courtiers advised the Emperor to no longer bow before MacArthur (which the Emperor had always done since the end of the War back in 1945). The courtiers pointed out that since MacArthur had been relieved, that it was now against diplomatic protocol to continue to bow before MacArthur. The Emperor though would have none of it and went against protocol and continued bowing before MacArthur until they parted for the last time with MacArthur leaving to go back to the continental US.

Kipling said...

You've read Manchester too, eh Beaverbrook?

The Monarchist said...

The American Caesar is part of my collection, Kips.

MacArthur was also known by his peers as the Beau Brummel of the American Expeditionary Force during the First World War. The same streak of insubordination that ran through Patton, also ran through MacArthur - both men went so far as inventing their own uniforms.

Matt said...

Prior to the end of WWI all U.S. general officers were permitted to design their own uniforms. In February 1920 some members of the U.S. Congress gave speeches on the floor of the House of Representative criticizing General Pershing for the design of his uniform. Since that time only 5-star generals and the Army's Chief of Staff have been allowed to design their own uniform. Since MacArthur's retirement there have been no five-star general's on active duty. The practice of the Chiefs of Staff since the end of WWII has been to limit their personalization of their uniforms to the wearing of more badges and decorations than would otherwise be allowed. For example, the uniform regulations allow for only one foreign decoration to be worn regardless of how many might have been awarded. But the Chief of Staff of the Army typically wears all his foreign decorations. Or, they might wear more than one badge per breast pocket, which is the limit for all other U.S. soldiers. In this picture (http://cadetcommand.armylive.dodlive.mil/files/2010/04/GCM-Casey-0001.jpg) the Army Chief of Staff is seen wearing two badges on the left breast pocket.

F.G.S.A said...

I'm not believing my eyes...from this blog too. MacArthur? Is it monarchists(but then New World monarchists perhaps?) turning history upside down? Ah leave me Bismarck, Moltke, Hindenburg and Keitel...He, the man who crippled a proud martial people and denied their Tenno His Divine Right, and who was left too weak to fight back...a monarchist? Good heavens. I'd rather be speaking japanese or german today than having had to read this

The Monarchist said...

No he was not a loyal humble servant of any majesty if that's what you mean, and bowed to no one least of all the imperial emperor who bowed to him.

In that sense he wasn't a monarchist at all, and I can understand why true royalists would consider MacArthur an apostate to that ideal, which begs the questions: why was he a member of the Royal Stuart Society in the first place, other than his heritage being that of a Scots American?

F.G.S.A said...

I'm tempted to reply: just for the kick of it. Probably to annoy the Pennsylvania Avenue institutionalised slobs. I sincerely do not know and greatly wonder.I must also admit that if Japan had not surrendered and subsequently used as a base, the communist takeover of the whole of korea would have met with no or negligible challenge. However, if he were so brave and confident, why did obey Truman and refrain from pressing into China? Crossing the Yalu did not yield the results of that ancient crossing of the Rubicon, even if he was immensely popular in the usa. A matter and question necessarily subject to debate, and the toasting can well, in my opinion, be postponed.

Anonymous said...

Aside from brilliant tactics at the operational level in the Pacific War and at Inchon Korea, MacArthur overstepped his bounds with his Commander in Chief and formaer Artillery Captain Harry S. Trueman, who quite rightly gave MacA the sack! Some people overstay their welcome - MacA was one. American Citizen, yes; American Hero, probably; but American Caesar, no.

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