Tuesday, October 5, 2010

General Douglas MacArthur's "Farewell Address to Congress" Analysis

While the Korean War was campaigned as a conflict against communism, it was also the cause of many conflicts in America.  None of these conflicts were more outstanding than the dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur by Harry Truman.  While his actions were labeled as insubordinate, MacArthur uses his “Farewell Address to Congress” to explain the necessity he felt behind his decisions. General MacArthur gives his speech to the nation to explain that his choices were not made to disregard President Truman, but to protect people in the east, as well as in America, from the spread of communism.

In the beginning of his speech MacArthur contests that he is speaking with “neither rancor or bitterness” as a tool to refute any ideas of potential bias towards those who’s viewpoints he is about to discuss. He continues on to say that those who believe America is incapable to defend itself on two fronts--Europe and Asia--are merely expressing “defeatism.” He uses this argument to imply that America is more than capable to combat communism worldwide. His use of praise towards America opened up the audience to hear his messages, which were received with uproars of applause, as shown in figure 1.

 Fig.1 MacArthur, Douglas. "Douglas MacArthur Farewell Speech to Congress." Speech. 19 April 1951. Youtube. 5 October 2010.

To reiterate the threat of communism spreading to Asia, he explains, “the peoples of Asia found their opportunity in the war just past to throw off the shackles of colonialism and now see the dawn of new opportunity, a heretofore unfelt dignity, and the self-respect of political freedom,” alluding to the potential of these countries adopting communism in their political freedom. He makes the audience aware of his strategy to combat this threat by saying “it becomes vital that our own country orient its policies in consonance with this basic evolutionary condition.” He recommends that the U.S. offers “friendly guidance, understanding, and support” to help sway the opinions towards freedom and democracy.

He uses this statement about the area’s willingness to accept the ideas and inputs of outside forces to set up the idea that America needs to put forth the correct influences and support. When MacArthur says, ”I have from the beginning believed that the Chinese Communists' support of the North Koreans was the dominant one,” he is explaining how allowing communist forces to influence a nation can actually further communism. The General then goes on to praise the nations of Asia that have not submitted to communism yet. He states that he knows of “no nation more serene, orderly, and industrious, nor in which higher hopes can be entertained for future constructive service in the advance of the human race” than Japan. He continues to say that America can “look forward in confidence that the existing unrest will be corrected and a strong and healthy nation will grow” in reference to the Philippines.

MacArthur reflects on the Philippines’ sacrifices during the war by saying, “We must be patient and understanding and never fail them -- as in our hour of need, they did not fail us,” reiterating the necessity he felt to protect those nations. He also says, “...might well force our western frontier back to the coast of California, Oregon and Washington,” when speaking on the potential loss of Japan and the Philippines. This statement serves to help Americans realize that he acted not only to protect the people of Asia, but also the people back home.

MacArthur closes out his speech with several appeals to those American families directly impacted by the war. To contest thoughts that he only cared about Americans within the countries borders, and not those serving outside of them, he says,”I have just left your fighting sons in Korea. They have met all tests there, and I can report to you without reservation that they are splendid in every way. It was my constant effort to preserve them and end this savage conflict honorably and with the least loss of time and a minimum sacrifice of life. Its growing bloodshed has caused me the deepest anguish and anxiety. Those gallant men will remain often in my thoughts and in my prayers always.” This last reflection allows General MacArthur to validate his decisions in the war, without appearing careless towards those who followed it.

                                                                Works Cited

MacArthur, Douglas. "Farewell Address to Congress." American Rhetoric. N.p., 19
     Apr. 1951. Web. 5 Oct. 2010.

                                                             Works Consulted

Nuutinen, Joni. "Controversy." Cloud Worth. N.p., 2010. Web. 5 Oct. 2010.