Viceroy of the Eastern Marches

“In 1950 [General Douglas] MacArthur was so grand a figure that everyone had to play by his rules. In effect he had created not only his own little army within a larger army, which he alone was allowed to command, but his own little world where he alone could govern. Any instructions or orders or even suggestions from Washington were more often than not ignored, even if they came from the general’s nominal superiors, men who, is his own view of the hierarchy, were not superior to him, and therefore had no right to question him or give him orders. He had created a dangerously self-isolating little world, one of total social, political, and military separation from everyone and everything else, where no one dared dissent. The men around him were all in awe of him; those who were not in awe of him tended not to last very long in his headquarters. Visitors who arrived at his headquarters and were deemed worthy of a meeting with him always got The Performance. In the performance—he often practiced that morning in front of a mirror, clad in his bathrobe—he spoke with great confidence and certainty about future events that most men, no matter how knowledgeable, approached with a degree of caution, aware of the tricks that history played. The performances were often quite dazzling, well rehearsed but delivered as if they were impromptu. He was the most gifted of monolinguists. . . . Harry Truman was the accidental president, but Douglas MacArthur was in no way the accidental general.” – David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter

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