A Student of History

June 6, 2006

A war of specious pretexts?

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 2:03 am


At HNN, Jeffrey Mankoff writes today:

An American president, using politicized intelligence, launches a war on specious pretexts. American forces occupy the enemy capital but cannot impose a political settlement or extricate themselves from an increasingly expensive and unpopular war. Meanwhile, on the home front, partisan and sectional rancor increase. Even though the United States is ultimately victorious, the war exacerbates already deep divisions, laying the foundation for civil war.

No, he is not talking about the current war in Iraq, but the Mexican War, 1846-1848.  The author's angle becomes more abvious by this line: "While no one is yet predicting civil war, Bush's handling of the war is poisoning politics in this country and undermining American democracy."  Readers will of course differ on Mankoff's claim that Bush is undermining democracy and such a stance may call into doubt Mankoff's objectivity, presentism, etc., nevertheless it is still an interesting read.  He is is a doctoral student in history and security studies at Yale.  Interesting too that Mankoff only sees one side "poisoning politics," but not the the other?  It takes two…..how come the Democrats are not doing the same thing for the author? Maybe it is just easy to set up Bush as a "James K. Polk" of the 20th century, so we only get that angle, but to me the article smacks of a presentist & partisan shot with the window-dressing of history to make it seem a bit learned.  That said, however, I enjoy these kind of things for what they are–opinion, and recognize what they are not–attempts to be as objective as possible. 

Consider this too…the author states that "the Mexican War was a fiasco…"  Really?  The US won almost every battle, captured the enemy capital, obtained a surrender and took millions of acres of territory as a result. That is a fiasco?   


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