Friday, October 04, 2002

Remember the Maine? [NYT]
"We have never pulled the massive trigger of our weapons on a nation that has not attacked us first," said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, slamming her fist on a lectern.
Note to media:
"There is no war," Remington wrote to his boss. "Request to be recalled." Remington's boss, William Randolph Hearst, sent a cable in reply: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures, I'll furnish the war."
Some other douchebag on the Times op-ed page is also a little confused about this:
Mexico attacked United States troops in 1846 because they had moved into disputed border territory; President James Polk used this as a convenient casus belli, but he was preparing a war message for Congress even before the attack. A half century later there was no credible evidence (there still isn't) that the Spanish sank the Maine in Havana harbor; Congress declared war anyway to liberate Cuba and flex American muscle. And the United States entered Vietnam not to avenge two attacks on American warships in the Gulf of Tonkin (one of which didn't occur) but because President Lyndon B. Johnson wanted to prevent the spread of Communism.

This is not to suggest that the United States was necessarily wrong to enter these wars; the Mexican War, Spanish-American War and Vietnam War all had large elements of moral purpose. The point is simply that we have often sought out battle, not waited for it to come to us.

Hearst's circulation was moral purpose? Or was it colonization by sugar companies?

Speaking of which, Braudel (I'm reading The Mediterranean) makes the perhaps obvious point that famine in the preindustrial mediterranean at least was often caused by economies that had been forced to abandon their local crops in favor of cash crop monocultures (i.e., sugar) for their colonial masters (Venice, Portugal). I'm sure this is utterly unrelated to the current problems in, say, Africa.


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