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General Douglas MacArthur entered the diplomatic field again last Friday by personally offering to negotiate a Korean armistice with Communist General Lin Piao. His statement, which also threatened a U.N. attack on the Chinese mainland, was made in the Mas Arthur manner--without consulting either the U.N. or our own State Department. There is a small chance that the general may succeed where U.N. negotiators have failed, but his self-appointed role as policy maker is a slap in the face to the U.N.
MacArthur qualified his armistice proposal by saying that peace negotiations should not be burdened with "extraneous matters" such as Formosa and the seating of Red China in the U.N. Established U.N. policy, however, calls for discussion of these two important questions as soon as a cause fire agreement has been reached. If the Chinese should refuse to agree on a truce, MacArthur intimated that the U.N. might drop its current policy of confining the war to Korea, and authorize military action against the Chinese mainland. This is not U.N. policy, and State Department officials quickly indicated that this was not their plan either. MacArthur has partially committed the U.N. and the State Department to a program which both oppose.
Prior to the general's manifesto, the State Department was making plans for a statement of the peace aims of all fourteen nations now fighting with the U.N. in Korea. The plan was to send this statement to the Chinese in order to re-open truce negotiations. The U.N. is also trying to establish contact with Peiping through the Swedish legation there. MacArthur's proposal made no mention of these authorized negotiations and was obviously not coordinated with them; the general's speech came as a complete surprise to U.N. officials of all nations.
Our European allies have been decidedly wary of MacArthur since the Yalu River drive last fall, when the general plunged ahead against the advice of British military authorities. They believe that the disasterous retreat which followed indicates the need for cooperative planning instead of one-man policy.
MacArthur's armistice offer may establish contact with the Chinese military arm, but his unauthorized threat of an attack on Chine proper is more likely to strengthen resistance than to promote a settlement. In any case, his tendency to make policy decisions without consulting our allies undermines the principle of common U.N. action and makes further cooperation all the more difficult.
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