Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

MacArthur to SecDef: Take a hike, bub

You never know where an interesting anecdote about Douglas MacArthur will bubble to the surface like last night’s grilled garlicked kabobs. Alexander Haig relates in his memoirs that when he was a young officer in Tokyo, the visiting secretary of defense, Louis Johnson, told him that General MacArthur was invited to dine with him that ...

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You never know where an interesting anecdote about Douglas MacArthur will bubble to the surface like last night's grilled garlicked kabobs.

Alexander Haig relates in his memoirs that when he was a young officer in Tokyo, the visiting secretary of defense, Louis Johnson, told him that General MacArthur was invited to dine with him that night. But Haig had been dispatched to inform Johnson that MacArthur didn't do dinners. Johnson told him to "go back to the general and tell him that the Secretary of Defense is giving him a direct order to report for dinner at 1900 hours." (25, Inner Circles)

Lt. Haig then delivered the order to the general, who drawled, "Bull-shit!" MacArthur did not attend the dinner, Haig reports.

You never know where an interesting anecdote about Douglas MacArthur will bubble to the surface like last night’s grilled garlicked kabobs.

Alexander Haig relates in his memoirs that when he was a young officer in Tokyo, the visiting secretary of defense, Louis Johnson, told him that General MacArthur was invited to dine with him that night. But Haig had been dispatched to inform Johnson that MacArthur didn’t do dinners. Johnson told him to “go back to the general and tell him that the Secretary of Defense is giving him a direct order to report for dinner at 1900 hours.” (25, Inner Circles)

Lt. Haig then delivered the order to the general, who drawled, “Bull-shit!” MacArthur did not attend the dinner, Haig reports.

I think this is one of those situations where both men were wrong, but that Johnson probably was wronger.

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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