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Statement by the President on His Meeting With General MacArthur at Wake Island.

October 15, 1950

I HAVE met with General of the Army Douglas MacArthur for the purpose of getting firsthand information and ideas from him. I did not wish to take him away from the scene of action in Korea any longer than necessary and, therefore, I came to meet him at Wake. Our conference has been highly satisfactory.

The very complete unanimity of view which prevailed enabled us to finish our discussions rapidly, in order to meet General MacArthur's desire to return at the earliest possible moment. It was apparent that the excellent coordination which has existed between Washington and the field, to which General MacArthur paid tribute, greatly facilitated the discussion.

After I had talked with General MacArthur privately, we met together with our advisers. These joint talks were then followed by technical consultations in which the following participated: General MacArthur and Ambassador John Muccio; Mr. Averell Harriman, Special Assistant to the President; Secretary of the Army Frank Pace; General of the Army Omar N. Bradley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Adm. Arthur W. Radford, Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet; Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk; and Ambassador at Large Philip C. Jessup.

Primarily we talked about the problems in Korea which are General MacArthur's most pressing responsibilities. I asked him for information on the military aspects. I got from him a clear picture of the heroism and high capacity of the United Nations forces under his command. We also discussed the steps necessary to bring peace and security to the area as rapidly as possible in accordance with the intent of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and in order to get our armed forces out of Korea as soon as their United Nations mission is completed.

We devoted a good deal of time to the major problem of peaceful reconstruction of Korea which the United Nations is facing and to the solution of which we intend to make the best contribution of which the United States is capable. This is a challenging task which must be done properly, if we are to achieve the peaceful goals for which the United Nations has been fighting. The success which has attended the combined military effort must be supplemented by both spiritual and material rehabilitation. It is essentially a task of helping the Koreans to do a job which they can do for themselves better than anyone else can do it for them. The United Nations can, however, render essential help with supplies and technical advice as well as with the vital problem of rebuilding their educational system.

Meanwhile, I can say I was greatly impressed with what General MacArthur and Ambassador Muccio told me about what has already been done and is now being done to bring order out of chaos and to restore to the Korean people the chance for a good life in peace. For example, the main rail line from Inchon to Suwon was open to rail traffic in less than 10 days after the Inchon landing. The rail line from Pusan to the west bank of the Han River opposite Seoul was open to one-way rail traffic about October 8th. Bridge and highway reconstruction is progressing rapidly. Power and the water supply in Seoul were reestablished within a week after the reentry into the capital. General MacArthur paid a particularly fine tribute to the service being rendered in Korea by Ambassador Muccio.

I asked General MacArthur also to explain at firsthand his views on the future of Japan with which I was already generally familiar through his written reports. As already announced, we are moving forward with preliminary negotiations for a peace treaty to which Japan is entitled. General MacArthur and I look forward with confidence to a new Japan which will be both peaceful and prosperous.

I also asked General MacArthur to tell me his ideas on the ways in which the United States can most effectively promote its policies of assisting the United Nations to promote and maintain international peace and security throughout the Pacific area.

On all of these matters, I have found our talks most helpful, and I am very glad to have had this chance to talk them over with one of America's great soldier-statesmen who is also now serving in the unique position of the first commander in chief of United Nations peace forces. We are fully aware of the dangers which lie ahead but we are confident that we can surmount these dangers with three assets which we have: first, unqualified devotion to peace; second, unity with our fellow peace-loving members of the United Nations; third, our determination and growing strength.

Note: See also Items 264, 269, 270 [2].

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President on His Meeting With General MacArthur at Wake Island. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230368

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