Excellent post. This is my favorite part of it, at the end.
the real trait we see in all six of these men is that they absolutely took responsibility for what they did. Remember Eisenhower’s draft dispatch for the failure of OVERLORD that absolved everybody else of responsibility, That’s one of the reasons his subordinates would work so hard for him, whether they were British or American.
General MacArthur is said to have described General Eisenhower as “the best clerk I ever had.” General MacArthur said many things, some of which viewed through the lens of history were correct, some of which were not. However, I cannot recall even one instance during “MacArthur’s War” (Korea) where he accepted blame for anything his own leadership had caused to go wrong. He had some great successes (Inchon, for example) and failures (the rout following China’s massive entry as US and UN forces approached the Yalu River, for example). He took (and deserved) credit for the former. He rejected but equally deserved blame for the latter.
One of the characteristics of charismatic leadership is that it wants swift action. Churchill famously used to pepper his memos with stickers marked ‘Action this day.’ During World War I this habit of his led to the Dardanelles and a disaster which almost ended his career. Admiral Jacky Fisher, who had been First Sea Lord, used to complain that he didn’t know how to answer Churchill back because his boss was so good with words. Yet in World War II, Churchill, while no less demanding, found himself with men who could deal with his impatience, not least the man who became Chief of the Imperial General Staff in 1941, General Sir Alan Brooke. ‘Brookie’ as he was known, was a taciturn Ulsterman who knew how to say ‘no’ to the sometimes bullying Churchill: it was a mark of Churchill’s ability to learn from experience that he got used…
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