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An Uncanny Resemblance

By PAM BERNS
The October issue of Vanity Fair has an excerpt on “Cooked Intelligence and Another Botched War” from David Halberstam’s final book, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. Halberstam writes that the only orders General Douglas MacArthur had ever allowed were his own. One can hardly refrain from seeing the parallels between MacArthur’s hubris and our current president’s arrogance and stubborn unwillingness to hear opinions of others. In both cases thousands of young soldiers lost their lives unnecessarily in wars where intelligence was ignored to placate the egos of their leaders.

Writes Halberstam, MacArthur had "‘surrounded himself’ with men ‘who would not disturb the dreamworld of self-worship in which he chose to live.’” Halberstam writes, “Most commanders wanted as many good sources of information as possible; MacArthur was focused on limiting and controlling the sources of intelligence. His desire was to have no dissenting or even alternative voices on his watch. It was always important to him that his intelligence reports blend seamlessly with what he had intended to do in the first place.”

Published: October 10, 2007