Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The worst general in American history?

That was the discussion I was having yesterday with several friends. Here is my ranking of their nominees: 1. Douglas MacArthur 2. Benedict Arnold 3. Ned Almond 4. Tommy R. Franks 5. William Westmoreland 6. George McClellan 7. Ambrose Burnside 8. Horatio Gates It was my contest, so I declared MacArthur the No. 1 loser, ...

army.mil
army.mil

That was the discussion I was having yesterday with several friends. Here is my ranking of their nominees:

1. Douglas MacArthur
2. Benedict Arnold
3. Ned Almond
4. Tommy R. Franks
5. William Westmoreland
6. George McClellan
7. Ambrose Burnside
8. Horatio Gates

It was my contest, so I declared MacArthur the No. 1 loser, because of his unique record of being insubordinate to three presidents (Hoover, Roosevelt and Truman) as well as screwing up the Korean War. Plus additional negative points for his role in the gassing and suppression of the Bonus Marchers in 1932. You can’t defend a country by undermining it.

It really is extraordinary how the Army has extirpated his memory. The influence of Marshall, Eisenhower and Bradley lives on, while MacArthur has been treated as a historical dead end. Kind of amazing, considering he was a general for 26 years, was the Army chief of staff, received the Medal of Honor, fought in three wars and was a senior commander in two.

That was the discussion I was having yesterday with several friends. Here is my ranking of their nominees:

1. Douglas MacArthur
2. Benedict Arnold
3. Ned Almond
4. Tommy R. Franks
5. William Westmoreland
6. George McClellan
7. Ambrose Burnside
8. Horatio Gates

It was my contest, so I declared MacArthur the No. 1 loser, because of his unique record of being insubordinate to three presidents (Hoover, Roosevelt and Truman) as well as screwing up the Korean War. Plus additional negative points for his role in the gassing and suppression of the Bonus Marchers in 1932. You can’t defend a country by undermining it.

It really is extraordinary how the Army has extirpated his memory. The influence of Marshall, Eisenhower and Bradley lives on, while MacArthur has been treated as a historical dead end. Kind of amazing, considering he was a general for 26 years, was the Army chief of staff, received the Medal of Honor, fought in three wars and was a senior commander in two.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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