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Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

While much of America is pretending to remember the "fallen heroes" of our various and nefarious imperial wars by burning hot dogs and fossil fuels, I suggest we remember why there are SO MANY "fallen heroes" to remember--mainly that our "democracy" has repeatedly produced "leaders" who start criminal wars for political and financial gain. Strangely, it has often been high-ranking officers involved in those wars who have been the ones to blow the whistle, albeit usually decades too late, on the criminal motives of the politicians. Like me, you're probably aware of the quotes from Generals Smedley Butler and Dwight Eisenhower. But until today, I'd never read anything from Gen. U.S. Grant. Chris Floyd has these excerpts from Grant's memoirs:
For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure [the annexation of Texas], and to this day regard the war which resulted as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
Texas was originally a state belonging to the republic of Mexico.... An empire in territory, it had but a very sparse population, until settled by Americans who had received authority from Mexico to colonize. These colonists paid very little attention to the supreme government, and introduced slavery into the state almost from the start, though the constitution of Mexico did not, nor does it now, sanction that institution. Soon they set up an independent government of their own [and won independence after a war with Mexico]. Before long, however, these same people -- who with permission of Mexico had colonized Texas, and afterwards set up slavery there, and then seceded as soon as they felt strong enough to do so -- offered themselves and the State to the United States, and in 1845, their offer was accepted. The occupation, separation and annexation were, from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.
Grant himself was a part of the troops sent to the "disputed" border region between the Nueces and Rio Grande rivers, much as our three carrier groups in the Persian Gulf are today:
We were sent to provoke a fight, but it was essential that Mexico should commence it. It was very doubtful that Congress would declare war; but if Mexico should attack our troops, the Executive could announce, "Whereas, war exists by the acts of, etc." and prosecute the contest with vigor. Once initiated, there were but few public men who would have the courage to oppose it.
The Mexican war was a political war, and the Administration conducting it desired to make party capital out of it.
I, of course, believe that the current Iraq war was and continues to be a huge crime, and have criticized and protested against it since before it started. But anyone protesting it who claims that it was unprecedented--that the US had never before started a war of aggression--clearly knows nothing of the history of the Mexican war (or the Spanish-American war, or the Vietnam war).

So, this Memorial Day, take a break from remembering their "sacrifice," and instead remember who sacrificed them and why. And ask yourself--why was Texas admitted to the Union...twice???