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This Week in History
October 11-17, 2015

From Inchon to the Yalu - The Case of the Purloined Intelligence:

MacArthur vs. the British Empire’s World War Threat, Part III (October 25, 1950)

By Gerald Belsky

China Enters the War

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Brigadier General Courtney Whitney, government section, Far East Command; General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command, and Major General Edward Almond (at right, pointing), Commanding General, X Corps in Korea, observe the shelling of Incheon from the USS Mount McKinley.

On October 25, 1950, ten days after scandalous Wake Island meeting between Truman and MacArthur, where Truman tried to set MacArthur up as the scapegoat for the possible (but expected by some) Chinese intervention, Chinese forces, which had secretly begun to enter North Korea on October 14, struck their first blow against the Republic of Korea (ROK) 1st Division operating in the western part of North Korea as part of General Walker’s Eighth Army. Both the Eighth Army in the west and Gen. Edward Almond’s X Corps in the eastern part of North Korea, both of which were under orders from General MacArthur to drive to the international boundary of Korea at the Yalu River, took Chinese prisoners, some of whom in their interrogations surprisingly freely admitted that they were part of large organized units that had entered Korea with the intention of driving UN forces out.

The Chinese government would later claim that their forces were “volunteers”, to avoid a state of war with the United States, but the question remained: How many Chinese had actually entered the war, and were they part of an all-out drive to defeat the mainly American-led UN forces?

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The Yalu River, which forms the greater part of the border between China and Korea.

From October 25 to November 2, 1950, segments of both General Walker’s forces in the east and General Almond’s in the west, which were divided by the Taebaek mountain range in the middle, ran into strong Chinese resistance, as they moved forward to carry out General MacArthur’s orders to advance to the north. ROK divisions which were hit first by the Chinese attack collapsed. This confirmed both the fact that the Chinese had excellent intelligence on the weak spots in MacArthur’s forces, and MacArthur’s concern about the weakness of the ROK forces in the face of Chinese attacks; he had overridden the September 27 directive of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that “as a matter of policy no non-Korean ground forces will be used in the northeast province bordering the Soviet Union or in the area along the Manchurian border”, when he ordered his U.S. commanders to move to the border with all their forces as fast as possible.

The foolish idea that MacArthur somehow “provoked” the Chinese by driving as fast as he could to the Korean-Chinese border has been repeated ad nauseam, in order to promote the delusion that if MacArthur had somehow just stopped his American troops in the middle of North Korea and let his South Korean forces proceed to the border, Chinese intervention could somehow have been prevented by negotiation.

According to the official U.S. History of the first year of the Korean War:

“The Joint Chiefs, upon learning of MacArthur’s new order, objected in the form of an inquiry. ‘While the Joint Chiefs of Staff realize,’ they told him, ‘that you undoubtedly had sound reasons for issuing these instructions they would like to be informed of them, as your action is a matter of some concern here.’

“MacArthur defended his action with characteristic vigor. He held that his order had been prompted by military necessity since his ROK forces had neither sufficient strength nor enough skilled leadership to take and hold the border areas of North Korea. As to the legality of his decision, MacArthur pointed out that the Joint Chiefs had told him that the directive of 27 September was not final, that it might require modification in accordance with developments. For additional justification, General MacArthur emphasized that the Joint Chiefs had not actually banned the use of other than ROK forces but had merely stated that it should not be done as a matter of policy. Finally, in his mind, the instructions from the Secretary of Defense (General Marshall- GB) on 30 September, which had assured him, ‘We want you to feel unhampered tactically and strategically to proceed north of the parallel,’ had certainly modified any prior instructions from the Joint Chiefs and he had proceeded to issue his orders on that basis. He made no move to placate his superiors. While he assured them that he understood their concern, he also hinted of dire developments if he took any other course…” [1]

Licensed under Public Domain via Commons
General Walton Harris Walker.

General Walker’s report on Nov. 6 of the sudden attacks by the Chinese on ROK forces first, and then U.S. forces, certainly confirmed General MacArthur’s foresight:

“On 26 October Eighth Army was advancing on a broad front in widely separated columns in pursuit of defeated North Korean Forces…An ambush and surprise attack by fresh, well-organized and well trained units, some of which were Chinese Communist forces, began a sequence of events leading to complete collapse and disintegration of ROK II Corps of three divisions. Contributing factors were intense psychological fear of Chinese intervention and previous complacency and overconfidence in all ROK ranks.”

The official Army history describes the attacks by the Chinese on the ROK forces advancing with General Walker’s Eighth Army, and then the heavy attacks on the 8th U.S. Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division:

“…other ROK divisions of the ROK II Corps ran head on into very strong Chinese units. Not only was the ROK 1st Division badly mauled, but the regiment of the ROK 6th Division on and near the border also was cut off by the Chinese and nearly destroyed. The climax of this early Chinese intervention came on the night of 1-2 November when the 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, was attacked by a full Chinese division in positions near Unsan and very roughly handled.” [2]

As a result of these attacks by the Chinese, General Walker stopped the advance, and pulled his forces back across the Ch’ongch’on River, to regroup and re-supply them. Suddenly, the Chinese attacks stopped after the beginning of November, and MacArthur was left with the question of whether he should stop to reassess the situation, or continue to go forward.

Slander of MacArthur: The Devil and the New York Times

Former New York Times reporter, and professional liar on behalf of British Empire-linked Wall Street circles, so-called “investigative reporter” David Halberstam, has written in his last book, a 2007 attack on MacArthur, Korea, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, the most recent version of a well-worn slander that MacArthur’s critical mistake was not to stop his advance after the Chinese attack on U.S. forces at Unsan:

“It was the warning shot the American commander in the Far East, Douglas MacArthur, did not heed, the one that allowed a smaller war to become a larger war.” [3]

The gist of Halberstam's slander is that, obsessed with going to the Yalu after the Inchon invasion during the Korean War, he committed the worst crime a commander can commit: he sacrificed his troops for the sake of his ego. Halberstam charges him with both ignoring the intelligence that large Chinese forces were massing in front of his troops, and “doctoring” the intelligence to allow him to move his forces north. How MacArthur could both “ignore” and “doctor” the same intelligence is never adequately explained by Halberstam, except to hysterically assert that far from “foreseeing the future”, as LaRouche has insisted he did, MacArthur, except for flashes of brilliant insight, lived in an internal egocentric paranoid fantasy world much of the time. Thus, because the Chinese massively attacked his forces in November 1950 during the march to the Yalu, he is charged with causing the worst ambush of American forces since George Custer!

The message that Halberstam wants to convey to military circles – with extensive interviews with Korean War veterans who suffered the shock of the Chinese intervention in November, 1950 – is that MacArthur set you up! If he had only followed the British demand that he stop at the “waist” of North Korea and dig in to “wait and see what happens”, and had not insisted on going to the Yalu, all would have been well – for a nice long meat-grinding war, as the Korean War turned out to be!

Halberstam, however, goes beyond simply attacking MacArthur as being a virtually clinically insane narcissist like Obama. The incredible hoax of this book, made more incredible by being circulated within the military itself, (The book is in the Pentagon library, as well as on the “recommended” reading list for officers at the National War College, among other locations), is that the faking of intelligence by the Bush-Cheney Administration to justify the war in Iraq, and the lies used to justify the war in Vietnam, can all be traced back, believe it or not, to the supposed “falsification of intelligence” by General Douglas MacArthur in his advance to the Yalu during the Korean War!

By US Navy - US Naval Institute. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Paul Nitze.

Although MacArthur has been attacked ever since he advanced to the Yalu in the face of threatened massive Chinese intervention, the line that MacArthur “faked the intelligence” actually comes from a member of the pro-fascist Wall St. crowd, the head of Truman Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s State Dept. Policy Planning Staff, Paul Nitze, who was deployed by Acheson to write the Cold War blueprint for a war mobilization, and possible nuclear war with the Soviet Union, NSSM 68. Nitze would later serve as the mentor to the neo-con “chikenhawks” Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz.

Although never stating this, Halberstam picked up this line from both his numerous contacts in the Wall St, establishment, and particularly from his friend Joseph Goulden, who wrote Korea: The Untold Story, which Halberstam cites as one of his key sources. In this book, (published by Times Books, the publishing arm of the New York Times, in 1982), Goulden acknowledges in the preface that he contacted Nitze about the story he'd heard, that MacArthur’s chief of intelligence, General Charles Willoughby, supposedly admitted that he “shaped” the intelligence in the Korean War on MacArthur’s orders. Nitze had reportedly discussed the story at a Princeton seminar held by Dean Acheson and his Truman administration allies in 1953 in order to put together a book by Acheson. According to Goulden, Nitze then wrote Goulden a two-page report on these charges (which Goulden never published) and directed him to one of his former State Department subordinates, who then met with Goulden at Nitze’s think-tank and outlined why MacArthur was “mentally unstable” for opposing Truman! This self-serving slander then forms the basis for Halberstam’s book. [4]

The intended lesson of Halberstam’s book for the Anglo-American Establishment, is that there is nothing that military leaders can do to stop the inevitability of British- concocted wars, as MacArthur after Korea vowed to stop a new ground war in Asia. This lesson is succinctly summarized by long-time former New York Times executive editor Max Frankel in his review of Halberstam’s book, “Rehearsal for Defeat”, which contrasts the “imperial ineptitude” of America with the implied supposed “aptitude” of the British Empire, with a snide reference to MacArthur’s famous advice to President Kennedy to not get involved in a land war in Asia, long cited by patriots since:

“Korea was where America first revealed its imperial ineptitude and where our military leaders vowed never again to wage a ground war in Asia. As Halberstam barely needs to mention, then came Vietnam, then Iraq.” [5]

The British Monarchy’s newspaper, the London Times, long associated with the British Roundtable, in its review of Halberstam’s book in 2008, characterized MacArthur as a “megalomaniac”, ostensibly for his post-Inchon advance to the Yalu strategy in Korea, but in reality for his daring to challenge the British puppet Truman. A similar characterization by the anglophile Washington Post, obscenely blaming MacArthur for the suffering of his troops in the face of the Chinese onslaught, appeared in November 1950. [6]

The New York Times, however, went beyond these two publications in incredibly describing MacArthur as “self-besotted and cavalier with the lives of his men…a Luciferian presence…” in its second glowing review by William Grimes. This about a general who in World War II conquered more territory, with the least lives lost, of any military leader in history! This about a general, whose very strategy in Korea at Inchon, and the post-Inchon drive to the Yalu, was designed to end the war quickly with the least lives lost on both sides! MacArthur as Lucifer? What the Devil is behind the New York Times' charge? [7]

MacArthur’s Options and the Real Intelligence Question

Before we can fully answer that question, let us look at the options which MacArthur faced as he confronted the mounting evidence of Chinese intervention. He summed up the situation he faced in his Reminiscences:

“There were but three possible courses. I could go forward, remain immobile, or withdraw. If I went forward, there was the chance that China might not intervene in force and the war would be over. If I remained immobile and waited, it would be necessary to select a defense line and dig in. But there was no terrain with natural obstacles to take advantage of, and with my scant forces it would be impossible to establish a defense in depth against the overwhelming numbers of Chinese. They had enough divisions to surround the army if it remained stationary, and every day they would increase their force by fresh divisions from Manchuria. This would mean the ultimate annihilation of our entire command. I estimated our forces would have to be at least tripled to cope with such a situation, but no promise of reinforcements from Washington was forthcoming. If the Chinese intended to intervene, this is exactly what they would want me to do. If I withdrew, it would be in contradiction to my orders and would destroy any opportunity to bring the Korean War to a successful end.

“If I went forward and found the Chinese in force, my strategy would be to immediately break contact and withdraw rapidly, so as to lengthen and expose the enemy’s supply lines. This would result in a pyramiding of logistical difficulties for the Reds and an almost astronomical increase in the destructiveness of our air power. Every step forward, his strength would decrease as compared with mine, until a degree of parity would be reached between the opposing forces. I would then rely upon maneuver, with my objective his supply lines…

“I reviewed my orders from Washington: ‘In the event of the open or covert employment anywhere in Korea of major Chinese Communist units, without prior announcement, you should continue the action as long as, in your judgment, action by forces under your control offers a reasonable chance of success.’ I concluded that the ‘best posture of security’ was to go forward. This would deny the enemy the selection of the time and place of his attack, and the accumulation of additional forces from Manchuria. It would be simultaneously a mopping up of the defeated North Korean forces, and a reconnaissance in force to probe the intentions of the Chinese. If our forward movement should prematurely expose Chinese involvement, my troops would have the necessary freedom to escape its jaws.” [8]

Contrary to Halberstam’s slander, MacArthur was hardly ignoring the Chinese buildup, or attempting to cover it up. In fact, he insisted that the only way to determine the threat he faced was to move forward in order to discover it! He knew that mere mathematics could not determine his strategy. Were the Chinese divisions discovered in Korea part of larger forces, or just piecemeal commitments? What he refused to do, however, was to give a definite number to the Chinese troops inside Korea until he had made a “reconnaissance in force”. The number of Chinese troops he accepted in front of him as definite was based on the assumption, not yet unproven, of a limited intervention, However, he always said that the full intervention had to be proven by moving forward. Months later, at Congressional hearings after his dismissal, he insisted that had he known for sure he was facing full Chinese intervention, he would still have ordered his troops forward to spring the trap, in order to avoid becoming “sitting ducks”.

He knew that the Joint Chiefs had told him to move forward only if he thought he had “a reasonable chance of success”. But MacArthur’s idea of “reasonable chance of success” and most people’s, including his military superiors, were not the same! How could he discover what he really faced, and by doing so, at the same time change the configuration of the war, in order to achieve victory? By the Joint Chief’s standard of “reasonable chance of success”, if he faced overwhelming numbers of Chinese, he should stand still and fight a limited but stalemated endless war.

MacArthur knew that the Chinese had assembled over 400,000 troops across the border in Manchuria, which could be deployed against his forces, with almost unlimited reinforcements, but he wasn’t prepared to say that they were all in Korea, until he had forced their hand to show themselves. He also knew that if the Joint Chiefs thought it possible he was facing such forces, they would order him to stop his advance, since Korea was only intended to be a “limited war” for a much bigger strategic military buildup against the Soviet Union, as we shall demonstrate.

In early November, MacArthur’s intelligence chief, General Willoughby, far from pooh- poohing Chinese intervention as an “impossibility” stated in early November, after the initial Chinese attacks:

“Although indications so far point to piecemeal commitment for ostensible limited purposes only, it is important not to lose sight of the maximum potential that is immediately available to the Chinese Communists. Should the high level decision for full intervention be made by the Chinese Communists, they could promptly commit 29 of their 44 divisions presently deployed along the Yalu and support a major attack with up to 150 aircraft.”

When MacArthur was asked his opinion of the possibility of massive Chinese intervention by the Joint Chiefs, he cautioned them that full intervention “would represent a momentous decision of the gravest international importance.” He insisted that “While it is a distinct possibility…there are many fundamental logical reasons against it and sufficient evidence has not yet come to hand to warrant its immediate acceptance.” He advised the Joint Chiefs on Nov. 4, “I recommend against hasty conclusions which might be premature and believe that a final appraisement should await a more complete accumulation of military facts.” In other words, advance forward, and be prepared to spring a potential trap!

The U.S. Army official history states, contrary to the slander of Halberstam et al. that MacArthur covered up the threat of the Chinese so he could carry out his “fantasy” of going to the Yalu:

“By 3 November, General MacArthur’s headquarters accepted the possibility that 34,000 Chinese had entered Korea and that 415,000 regular troops were located in Manchuria, ready to cross if ordered. Two days later, General Willoughby warned that the Chinese Communist forces had the potential to launch a large-scale offensive at any time.”

By November 6, MacArthur sent a report to the Joint Chiefs that indicated he faced a real threat, but insisted that he must move forward to determine its exact nature. According to the official U.S. Army history, MacArthur reported the following:

“He confirmed that the Chinese threat was a real and developing one. That Chinese forces were engaging his troops was unquestionable although their exact strength was difficult for his commanders to determine. They were strong enough to have seized the initiative from Walker’s forces in the west and to have materially slowed Almond’s advances in the east. ‘The principle seems thoroughly established,’ General MacArthur declared, ‘that such forces will be used an augmented at will, probably without any formal declaration of hostilities.’ He emphasized that if the Chinese augmentation continued it could force the United Nations Command to perform a ‘movement in retrograde.’ But he affirmed his intentions to resume his advance in the west, possibly within ten days, and to try to seize the initiative, provided the enemy flow of reinforcements could be checked. In his first reference to what he later termed a ‘reconnaissance in force,’ General MacArthur told the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ‘Only through such an offensive effort can any accurate measure be taken of enemy strength.’ [9]

Chinese Intervention Deliberately Manipulated?

Even before the Chinese were first identified as in the war on October 25, 1950, even if the commitment was indeterminate, MacArthur saw the threat as real. He had seen the buildup on the Chinese-Korean border, and had so ordered his forces on October 24, to proceed all-out to the border, with no restrictions on American troops approaching the border.

After the infamous October 15 Wake Island meeting, and subsequent capture of the North Korean capitol of Pyongyang, MacArthur saw no effort to exploit his military victory against North Korea with a strategy for peace in the Pacific. He said that after Wake, “The conference at Wake Island made me realize that a curious, and sinister, change was taking place in Washington. The defiant, rallying figure of Franklin Roosevelt was gone. Instead, there was a tendency toward temporizing rather than fighting it through.” [10]

With great irony, MacArthur, through his confidante and aide, Major General Courtney Whitney, expresses his view that Washington did not want to achieve a strategy for peace, since he knew it was actually on a war mobilization against Russia, although he does not state this explicitly. But, in Whitney’s book, written under MacArthur’s direction, the following failure to exploit the military victory against the North Koreans is thus identified:

“And so, his military mission accomplished, MacArthur eagerly awaited the diplomatic action that would exploit it. But he waited in vain; nothing was done. He was astonished to see Allied diplomacy fail so completely to capitalize on this moment of triumph. The object of victory in battle is to pave the way for diplomacy to achieve peace. MacArthur expressed his surprise to General Walker. ‘The whole purpose in combat and war,’ he said, ‘is to create a situation in which victory on the battlefield can be promptly translated into as politically advantageous peace. Success in war involves political exploitation as well as military victory. The sacrifices leading to military victory would be pointless if not translated promptly into the political advantages of peace.

“The golden moment to liquidate this war which has already been won militarily now presents itself…But I am beginning to fear a tremendous political failure to grasp the glittering possibilities of ending the war and moving decisively toward a more enduring peace in the Pacific.’ ”

But, of course, MacArthur knew that there was no intention of grasping that “glittering possibility”, and instead the intention was to mobilize for war. That would explain MacArthur’s view that the Chinese were given intelligence that they would not be attacked by U.S. forces in Korea, order to force them to carry out their intervention. This type of thinking is hinted at by Whitney:

“MacArthur was convinced now as he had been at Wake Island that no military strategist in his right mind would commit any army like China’s in a war like Korea’s against the combined land, sea, and air might of the United States. Could it be, then, that the Red Chinese leaders were attempting through one or another of the UN diplomats to determine if by any remote chance they could strike against the UN troops in Korea without themselves being attacked in turn?

“Thus the war in Korea had reached a crucial point in much more than a military sense. This was the time, MacArthur firmly believed, when some government in the United Nations, or at least a so-called ‘neutral’ government with representatives in or connections with the United Nations, assured the Chinese Communists that many of the UN government leaders – and possibly some officials in the United States as well – would see to it that the Chinese could attack in Korea without fear of any powerful retaliation.”[11]

MacArthur knew that the government which gave such assurances was the British government, working with officials in the U.S., like Acheson and Harriman, but felt he could not say this publicly, though he did give a private interview to a noted journalist where he identified the British role, an interview only released after his death.

The Chinese role, however, is more complex than MacArthur knew. Evidence released in both China and Russia in the 1990s, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, indicates that most of the Chinese leadership, led by Chinese Premier and Foreign Minister Zhou En-Lai, with the exception of Mao and a few others, opposed intervention in the Korean War. As we shall demonstrate, it was only the leaking of intelligence by the British Empire, which forced them to reluctantly intervene in the Korean War, which cost China dearly.

To be continued ....



[1] James F. Schnabel, Policy and Direction: The First Year, United States Army in the Korean War series, Center of Military History, United States Army, Washington D.C., 1992, p. 218

[2] Ibid, p. 235

[3] David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter:America and the Korean War, Hyperion, New York, 2007, p. 9. It is, perhaps, appropriate that this fairy tale about MacArthur has been published by the book division of Disney Productions.

As a young correspondent for the New York Times in South Vietnam in 1963, Halberstam, in cooperation with British Empire agents, such as Hitler backer and eugenics supporter Averell Harriman, and under the overall direction of British intelligence circles, provided the journalistic cover for the overthrow and assassination of the nationalist South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and his chief advisor his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu, when President Diem and Nhu were negotiating with the North Vietnamese, with the assistance of French President DeGaulle, for exactly the kind of negotiated “neutralist” solution which President Kennedy and General MacArthur favored, but which President Kennedy did not believe he could publicly promote until after he had been reelected in 1964. The New York Times after the murder of Diem and Nhu openly gloated that the attempt at a negotiated “neutralization” of Vietnam was over. To coverup the dirty operation, and point the finger at President Kennedy for his own and his patrons’ crimes, Halberstam became “The Best and Brightest” of liars by later writing the book that made his fame. For a truthful account of Diem and Nhu’s efforts to end the Vietnam War, in accord with President Kennedy’s intentions, guided by General MacArthur, see Mike Billington, When America Let Britain Run, and Ruin, U.S. Asia Policy 

[4] Joseph C. Goulden, Korea:The Untold Story of the War, Times Books, New York, 1982, p. viii. Halberstam states in his “Acknowledgements” at the end of his book:

“I would also like to thank my friend Joe Goulden, who not only wrote one of the best and most penetrating books on the Korean War but was a source of constant assistance and encouragement to me.” As an indication that Halberstam’s book is not just the product of his own fantasy, but an attack on MacArthur by the Anglo-American establishment, he admits that “My friend Les Gelb, until recently the head of the Council on Foreign Relations, was as ever a wise consultant and thoughtful ally.”, Halberstam, op cit, pp 665-666

[5] Max Frankel, Rehearsal for Defeat”, New York Times, Sunday Book Review, Sept. 23, 2007

[6]Max Hastings, “The Coldest Winter: America andf the Korean War ny David Halberstam, London Sunday Times, 10 August 2008

Stanley Weintraub, The Coldest Winter (by David Halberstam): “A Most Dangerous Precedent”, Washington Post, Sunday, Sept 23, 2007

[7] William Grimes, “The Forgotten War That Set a Pattern for Years to Come”, Books of the Times, New York Times, Sept 26,2007

[8] General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Reminiscences, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1964, pp. 371-372

[9]James F. Schnabel, op. cit, Chapter XIII, “The Chinese Take A Hand”, pp. 233-253

[10] MacArthur, op. cit., p. 363

[11] Major General Courtney Whitney, MacArthur: His Rendezvous With History, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1956, pp. 400-401