INT: The nationalists under Chang Kai Chek.
RD: Chang Kai Chek... Chang Kai Chek, he wanted to bring them on our side and this was his real downfall finally. He wanted them to start a second front from Formosa against the Communists, Chinese Communists and all this went against Truman. But so MacArthur was a man who was very dedicated to saving China from Communism and that was one of his biggest problems, with the President. And Truman never liked MacArthur, they got on best at Wake Island. That was the best they ever did. Truman had several times invited MacArthur to come back and meet him. He wouldn't do it.... Truman found him a stuffed shirt, a brass hat and more and more he disliked MacArthur and... MacArthur... Korea, I think, was MacArthur's worst. After all the great things he had done, he did not do well in Korea. For example - and this was a great worry in Washington - he divided his forces. He divided the Eighth Army and what was called the Tenth Corp between the peaks of the Tabek mountain range, so he had part of his forces on one side of the mountain range, which goes all the way up Korea and the other... other half on this side and when [inaudible] he couldn't get them together. That was... the funny thing about it is, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were disturbed about that, General Marshall, who was Secretary of Defence then, one of the great Americans, didn't think well of it, but especially in the Second World War, we had become so inept to the power of the theatre commander. The theatre commander - and Horrocks was very seldom denied by Washington or countermanded and so as theatre commander, MacArthur did a lot of things that... that Washington didn't like but lived with. He got his forces away up to the Yallu, convinced the Chinese were coming in, and they came in and inflicted terrible casualties on us. He fell back and back and back. What's said today is, our falling back took the Chinese away from their supplies, their food and everything else and when the weather started to clear, we just turned every airplane we had on 'em. We inflicted terrible casualties on China, And MacArthur kept complaining that the Eighth Army was not in shape to fight and so forth when we back to the parallel. Then when Truman relieved him, General Ridgeway succeeded MacArthur and fought very well with those forces. And the war was stalemated...
INT: You mentioned Ridgeway relieved him, let's pick up on this story. When it got to the spring of 1951 and the President's aims in the war and MacArthur's are greatly divergent, what were the options that Truman had? Had Truman any choice in the matter, but to fire MacArthur?
RD: Not that he had any... not that he had any faith in the Presidency, which he did have...
INT: Let me ask you, was Truman justified in dismissing MacArthur and if he was justified, why?
RD: Just show me one historian in America who does not think he was justified. Historians working today. MacArthur was absolutely insubordinate, he would not really take orders from the Truman and Truman fired him. MacArthur was always pushing for his aims. He wanted to allow the Chinese nationalists under... What's his name?
RD: Chang. He wanted to bring them into the fight on our side against the Communists. He wanted him to start a second front on the Chinese mainland.
RD: One thing after another. He insubordinate to the President. The President took such care, he worked this out then with General Marshall, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with top Republicans and Democrats that he could trust in Congress, what was he going to do about it, what should he do? And he got unanimous support from those people that you can't put up with insubordination and he didn't. And let me tell you this, there were an awful lot of people in this country, Republicans and people who had been pro-Chinese nationalists who raised Cain about the firing of MacArthur, just raised Cain about it, and Truman might have had a hard time governing for the rest of his term, if it had not been for a set of Senate hearings. The Joint Chiefs of Staff… the hearings held jointly by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee under the strong leadership of Senator Russell of Georgia. And they had these hearings in which they called each member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General MacArthur, all the military. If those people, as a result of that hearing, had sided with General MacArthur, I don't know how Truman could have governed. But unanimously they testified, General Marshall, all of them, that MacArthur had been insubordinate and that did it, that saved Truman.
INT: This is 10485, continuation of your interview, Mr. Donovan. I want to ask you a little more about Wake Island,did Truman come away pleased?
RD: Yes, he did. Truman did came away... That was the highlight, the peak of the Truman MacArthur relationship. Truman was pleased with his talk with MacArthur, in fact he gave him a medal.
INT: Downhill after that?
RD: Downhill very fast after that.
INT: What was the effect on Truman's presidency of the Korean War?
RD: Heavy, heavy. Truman had to face the opposition to the war all the way through. It became an issue for the Republicans. It was very hard for Truman and it's an example of Truman's toughness that he lived through it, you know. I will tell you, one of the typical or the absurdities of some of this criticism, the New York general American, the Hurst... the Hurst general American in New York came out with a front page story, after the firing of MacArthur, saying that the President had acted under a [inaudible] oh my God... under a sort of neural anodyne when he fired MacArthur and Senator Joe McArthy said that Truman did it while he was under the influence of Bourbon and Benedictine and there's no-one today who... yet who can imagine Truman drinking Benedictine.
INT: That was the strength of the opposition?
INT: But in the presidential election of 1952, how effective was Eisenhower in making use of Truman's unpopularity over the Korean War?
RD: Whether there had been... it was a situation was if there had never been a Korean War, it still would have been a landslide. The Democrats had been in for a very long time, four terms for Roosevelt, two for Truman, very controversial administration. Eisenhower justifiably was a enormously popular, a good man, maybe a great man in a way, and no matter, Korean War or what, the Democrats would have lost that ele. They didn't have a very strong candidate in Adelai Stephenson...
INT: Adelai Stephenson...
RD: Adelai... Adelai Stephenson, a good man, but not a good candidate. I mean, the Republicans' time had come, so I don't know how much you can factor the Korean War into that.
INT: I was thinking of the... Eisenhower appeared to make a positive statement. He said, I will go to Korea. Now what sort of effect did that in making his landslide victory as big as it was?
RD: Well, of course, it was huge and it was a political thing.... it just made it all the more, you know, I shall go to Korea. Someone dreamed it up for Ike and got him to say it, he said it... I think we were all out in Detroit, I think, when he said it. And... it got big coverage and Eisenhower was so deeply trusted by the American people. I mean, merely the fact that he put his foot on the soil in Korea, would make it seem better.... Ike would have won under any circumstances. Naturally, he was helped by the reaction on Korea, he had to be.
INT: Let's just stop there...
END OF INTERVIEW