Professor Woods seemed to frame Truman’s firing of MacArthur as an assertion of civilian control of the military. It seems to me that MacArthur was fired because he was interested in pursuing victory in Korea. He was forced by Truman to restrain his actions on the Red side of the Yula river, and forbidden from blowing the river bridges.
The CFR “Wise Men” behind Truman were not interested in a non-communist Korea, just as they were not interested in a non-communist China (hence their lack of support of Kai-shek, whose military assistance was refused in Korea) It seems that the Korean War was an attempt to validate the legitamacy of U,N “police action” under the guise of NATO.
This seems to me like two sides of the same coin. From the point of view of civilian control over the military, it wouldn’t matter what the merits of the case made by the military leadership were. The point is that the civilians are in charge.
I agree with Tom. The chief positive attribute of the American constitution is that the military has been subordinate to the civilians since the Revolution. No matter what proportion of the flag officers disapprove of the president, he’s in charge. Washington insisted on this principle during the Revolution and after, whether by telling British negotiators that they needed to go to Congress with their proposals, by resigning his office at the war’s end, by breaking up incipient mutinies, or by insisting that membership in the national Society of the Cincinnati not be hereditary. Whatever we may think of his performance as president, Washington remains America’s greatest man because of this overwhelmingly important legacy.