[September 7, 2021] By the time General Douglas MacArthur commanded the occupation troops in Japan after World War II, it was nearly unanimous that his character was deeply flawed. After Communist North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, MacArthur – who was put in charge of all UN troops – devised a brilliant plan to cut off the Communists with the Inchon Landing (one of the most famous in military history). Yet it was his arrogant belief in his own superior intelligence that misled him just a few months later to send UN forces north, where they blundered into the largest ambush of an army in history.
A social skill that is undeniably the most valuable and most desirable is accurately judging another person’s character. Why do we judge the character of others? Our ability to judge determines whether we are successful in life or not. We are trying to determine if they are honest, reliable, competent, kind, modest, etc. Leaders are particularly good at discriminating the good from the bad; otherwise, they will fail. When senior leaders fail, the failure can be spectacular, as in the case of General MacArthur.
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” – Malcolm S. Forbes1
Here are some indicators that a person has character flaws.2 There are many more than listed here, of course, but these are a good start and not surprising:
- Sense of entitlement
- Deny blame
- Belittle others
- Prone to anger
Eventually, General MacArthur became so obsessed with the illusion that Communists and politicians in Washington D.C. were out to get him that he publically denounced the U.S. President and much of the rest of the U.S. government. That got him relieved of duty (fired from his position), something Harry Truman was hesitant to do despite knowing MacArthur’s flaws.
- There has been considerable discussion over who first said this or said something similar. A good discussion is here at Quote Investigator: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/10/28/judge-character/
- Note that there are some clear parallels to the “7 deadly sins” of Christian ethics.