Pacific War: McArthur vs Nimitz: Who Was Right?

Yep. My dad was a fire control petty officer on a destroyer escort, possibly supporting the invasion of Iwo Jima. His DE got hit by a kamikaze at some point; the kamikaze started a fire but the ship remained afloat.

I see, "your dad’ eh? Sure.

Wanna see a picture of him in uniform? I used to be able to fit it myself, wore it for Halloween when I was 13.

So, what you are saying is that my Dad didnt do the things I ascribe to him, but your dad stories are be be accepted on face value? Honestly your story sounds believable to me, but the hypocrisy is strong in this one. :stuck_out_tongue: :scream:

I am willing to accept your dad stories, OK? But implying that me or my dad is a liar, then getting grumpy because I have say “Hmm” is hypocritical. You dont believe me, so why should I believe you?

My Dad served in the Pacific from Dec 8 1941 until about a year after the war, being part of the Occupation of Okinawa. Most of the time he was in Mac’s HQ. Obviously, if you serve for for that long, you have a lot of war stories. Altho- as is true for most veterans- few combat stories. He is buried in Los Angeles National Cemetery. Not a big hero, never got any Silver Stars or anything but anyone who served that long close to the action of course saw all sorts of shit . He just did his part, as I am sure your dad did also. He was a Officer of the VFW for decades and of course met and talked to many other veterans.

Unlike you, your stories, and/or your dad’s stories, I have solid evidence. I would link to his official obituary but the paper it’s in refuses to access that page, being from 2016.


That’s a Fire Control Technician insignia below his right shoulder.

That’s nice, I refuse to supply info that would lead to me being Doxxed, thank you very much.

But Ok, so you are saying that a random picture of a guy in navy uniform proves My dad was a fire control petty officer on a destroyer escort, possibly supporting the invasion of Iwo Jima.

Warning for DrDeth: You’re calling a poster a liar here. You’re causing disruption in many threads in GD. I strongly suggest you take a break from posting on your own for a little while as my next step would be to suspend you for some amount of time.

If you choose to keep posting, watch what you’re saying. Watch you don’t remove context via quote snipping and try to be less confrontational with poster in GD and P&E. I’m cleaning up your messes across the forum at this point.

This topic was automatically opened after 29 minutes.

There are many comments from many posters downplaying the Army’s contribution to the war, so sorry to pick this out for, but it would be interesting to see some sort of argument for this.

I can’t recall any scholar making the case that overall MacArthur’s efforts were a net loss. Certainly many say that retaking all of the Philippines was not necessary, but not that overall his whole campaign was a net minus.

Here is another comment from @RickJay which I completely agree with.

You know this but many others don’t.

The war was extremely complex, and there aren’t a lot of clear answers. The war was not a lab experiment which could be run multiple times under controlled circumstances. There were also political factors which were every bit as important as military ones in order to keep support for the war going. In the early stages of the war MacArthur was very popular and having his involvement helped sell the war to the American population.

It’s obvious that many posters here in this thread are not aware of Operation Cartwheel, the major offensive made by the Allied forces, under the command of MacArthur up the coast of New Guinea and then on to the Philippines.

I posted earlier that the decision was made to separate the Pacific into different areas of command and Nimitz was made the Commander in Chief of the Central Pacific Area while MacArthur was placed in charge of the South West Pacific Area.

Here is a map which shows major battles, without the latter invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Guadalcanal was a Marine battle, so it’s not really the best illustration, but I didn’t see anything better right away. It’s just really to illustrate the dual attacks.

Certainly some say that instead of having two routes, it would have been faster to concentrate on just one path. I don’t recall a detailed analysis for alternative scenarios, and but there is the counter argument that having two lines of attack weakened the defenders more than it weakened the attackers.

The dual lines of attack allowed each other to face less pressure. In hindsight, the Marines are better remembered, but the contributions of the Allies in the South West Pacific Area under MacArthur greatly contributed to the war area, including destroying many Japanese aircraft and leaving many enemy soldiers stranded.

It was a war of attrition and you needed to get into grind it out battles with the enemy. If MacArthur’s planes weren’t taking on the Zeros, then Nimitz’s would have to, but either way hundreds of Japanese planes and pilots needed to be shot down and the aircrew killed.

The beauty of the Pacific War was that it was both a war of attrition, but also a war of maneuvering. The complexity was amazing, although it doesn’t lend itself to the simplistic arguments of GD.

Your points here indirectly point out another thing, which is that describing the conduct of the war as a matter of “Nimitz vs. MacArthur” is rather a false dilemma. The war wasn’t just fought under their commands. The size and scope of the war between Britain/India and Japan in SE Asia was huge. And of course we’re not even getting into the war in China, which can almost be treated as a separate war. These fronts also had an effect on how the Pacific Ocean campaign was conducted.

That’s an understatement.

It’s very tempting to ascribe simple explanations to things, because it makes the world easier to comprehend, but truth is usually more complicated. Any simple explanation of World War II is wrong. I could say that it was the biggest and most complex event in human history but even implying it was one event is wrong. You say it was the Soviets who beat the Germans, not the Allies? Wrong, too simple. Montgomery was a bad general? Wrong, too simple. Great general? Wrong, too simple. France fell because they relied on the Maginot Line? Wrong, too simple.

You could spend a decade as a historian just studying the Guadalcanal campaign. That one part of the war, fought over an island just the size of Delaware, is a fascinating interplay of strategic imperative, combined arms, a clash between opponents with very different capabilities, brilliance and ineptitude in command, political needs, and its overall impact on the greater war. That one battle, in all the fury and confusion of a theatre of war fought over like a quarter of the planet.


As you point out, this was an extremely complex set of events over much of the world, but for any sort of in depth discussion, there naturally have to have limits. I think that the other areas of the conflict have to be set aside or the more the scope is expanded, the more superficial the conversations become.

Also, I believe that trying to demonstrate how differently these other conflicts would affect the battles in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) verses the Central Pacific Area (CPA) is beyond the expertise of the Dope.

They were both right.

Think about it this way: The question for the people who had to choose where the resources were going was also “What if the leading plan doesn’t work. Maybe it would be better NOT to put all of the eggs in one basket.”

I recall reading that the Air Force always had a backup airplane just in case. For example, the B17 had the B24, the B29 had the B32, etc.

As an aside many years ago I read Gar Alperovitz’s book “The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb”, Alperovitz is strongly against the nuclear bombings and the majority of his book is a lengthy argument suggesting that Japan would have collapsed without a land invasion ever being necessary, if simply we had waited a few months and kept up the blockade.

I’ve always been a little light on my Pacific Theater knowledge, I’ve actually studied pre-War Japan a good bit more than Japan during the War; and it is my opinion that the bombing did knock something vital loose at least in the minds of Hirohito and some members of the Supreme War Council. Obviously the USSR formally entering the war against Japan had an element of practical effect, but there’s at least some level of evidence that cultural thought in Japan and among a decent chunk of Japan’s decision makers was in the sort of headspace of “national suicide.” There were elements of Nazi German society that had similar thoughts and planned to basically keep up guerilla fighting until the country was all but ruined from every direction (which much of the country had been reduced to rubble by that point any way), but this wasn’t nearly as organized or thought out in Germany and much of the top brass entered a scramble to manage either escaping or strategically surrendering to the Americans instead of the Soviets.

I agree it’d be interesting to hear a more detailed account of why Anami declined to back the coup. After the Meiji Restoration the government and politics of Imperial Japan is very interesting. While the Emperor was certainly not in charge in a day to day sense, I think it is telling that Anami basically said it was his duty to obey the Emperor when the Emperor issued a command. So while Japan had not been ran by the Emperor, I think there was some level of ingrained acceptance that if the Emperor was willing to step outside his traditional role and issue a direct order, a Japanese soldier owed him his obedience.

I also think that ultimately Alperovit’s anti-nuclear sentiments, while noble, probably ignore the reality that his proposed indefinite naval blockade all but certainly would have killed a far greater number of Japanese. Once Japan’s food and daily calorie per person situation got so dire that mass starvation began, death would basically occur on a very large scale, you’d essentially see the population die off until it reached a point at which the food supply could feed those remaining, which likely would have been millions of deaths. In history if you read much about famines there are frequently inflection points where a fuck ton of people start to die as the food supplies hit a critical level. While the atomic weapons were terrible things, death by starvation is much crueler in many respects.

Hind site is always 20/20. If no a-bombs are dropped who knows how long WW 2 continues and at what allied cost.

An argument from the perspective that you shouldn’t kill people with atomic bombs as opposed to killing them in some other fashion strikes me as being ridiculous.

That said, you’re leaving out a large part of his argument; much of that books hinges on his position that in fact the war would have ended quite soon after August 6 even without the bomb. He expends a lot of effort making the case. I don’t happen to buy it, but it’s a more morally consistent position, anyway.

Excellent points. Slow horror is still horror.

Also note it would have meant the death of all our POWs, sometimes even by cannibalism.

I know we are way past the main question here, but let me point out another angle. Almost everyone in the thread looks at the debate topic from the perspective of military strategy. However, this is fundamentally a political question of statecraft. The campaigns are formed based upon those political priorities.

There were legitimate questions of what the priority ought to be, and while I have some issues with MacArthur in a variety of contexts, the view that liberating the Philippines ought to be a priority is not inherently wrong. It was a major, or even non-negotiable, U.S. war goal. In all strategic contexts, states much decide where to allocate their resources in order to meet military and political necessity.