Pat Buchanan is OK with imperialism as long as we’re beating up the Mexicans

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Will

Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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8 Responses

  1. Avatar Louis B.
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    says:

    I wish Pat Buchanan was more like Pat Buchanan.Report

  2. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    I can’t say I’m surprised that Pat’s views are colored by the color of the people involved.Report

  3. Avatar William Brafford
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    says:

    And here I thought Polk was just the first President to figure out that if you provoke an incident, you can get as much war funding as you want. One of the “specific instructions” that Polk gave Nicholas Trist was to snag the northern half of what is still Mexico as well as part of the Yucatan peninsula. Which is to say, Polk wanted to take way more than just what the USA thought they were due after the Texas treaty, and Trist was the one who preserved even some remote claim to justice. In summary: I don’t find that article convincing, and I’m still anti-Polk and anti-Jackson. Whigs!Report

  4. Avatar Roque Nuevo
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    says:

    I can’t resist commenting on the Buchanan article, and on Buchanan himself. All quotes from the article you linked to.

    In 1836 at San Jacinto, Sam Houston had won the independence of Texas with his defeat of Santa Anna, butcher of the Alamo and Goliad. In eight years, Mexico had not tried to recapture Texas. For eight years, Houston and Texas had sought admission to the Union.

    True, but “lacks context” as you might say. Mexico was not capable of “recapturing” Texas. The country was in the throes of civil war. However, they did make it clear to the US that annexation of Texas would constitute an act of war. This is one reason why, after eight years, Texas had not been admitted into the Union. Another reason was that Texas would become another slave state. This would unbalance the senate, which, according to the appeasment doctrines of the time, was not possible. Does that count for anything?

    The following is such a selective reading of history, that I have to suspect Buchanan of disingenuousness:

    But where was the southern border of Texas?

    Santa Anna had signed Texas away to the Rio Grande. Mexico said the border was the Nueces River, far to the north. In dispute were thousands of square miles. To enforce America’s claim, Polk sent Gen. Zachary Taylor to the Rio Grande.

    A Mexican army arrived on the south bank, and an American patrol, north of the Rio Grande, was ambushed and cut to pieces by Mexican troops. When word reached Washington, Polk sent Congress a message: “The cup of forbearance” has “been exhausted.”

    Congress voted a near-unanimous declaration of war.

    1. Santa Ana “signed away” Texas at the Rio Grande/Bravo under duress. He had been carted off to Washington and faced with a fait accompli. Besides, he had no authority to “sign away” anything. This authority rested with the congress (such as it was). The congress refused to recognize the treaty as signed by Santa Ana.

    2. Mexico placed the border at the Nuces River because that’s where it was, and where it had been for decades under the Spanish and independent Mexico as well.

    3. A Mexican army arrived on the south bank of the Rio Grande/Bravo because they were being provoked by the US. They were being provoked by the simple presence of the US Army on the north bank because, according to them, they were on Mexican territory. A more objective assessment would be that the US Army was on disputed territory. In no way was the army on US territory, as subsequent events illustrate in spades.

    4. The Mexicans were also provoked by… well… being provoked: Americans waved the US flag around, yelled insults, etc etc.

    5. A US patrol was indeed ambushed and cut to peices. But it’s here where Buchanan elides a significant event. Polk went before Congress and in his address requesting a declaration of war, said, “American blood has been spilt on American soil. (I’m quoting from memory)” In #4 I’ve shown why this was a lie.

    6. However that may be, the lie allowed Polk and the US to claim the “high moral ground” and declare war. It was the prototype for future land-grab wars (and others), like Johnson’s Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

    7. Maybe vote for the declaration of war was “near unanimous.” I really don’t know. I do know that JQ Adams, the former president, son of a former president, former Sec State and architect of the Monroe Doctrine, and architect of the treaty which demilitarized our norther border with Canada, and architect of what’s left of US national security doctrine, voted “no.” Then he died, as legend has it, on the floor of the House of Representatives.

    But Trist rode on to Mexico City, reconciled with Scott, seized the opportunity of a peace party in power, negotiated the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo…

    True, but again, “lacks context.” That context would be that the US Army was occupying the country. The deal was: “sign and we leave. Don’t sign, and… well… it’s a really nice country you have here. We wouldnt want anything bad to happen to it…”

    The deal was for money, which for sure puts the US way above the land grabs that the European powers were perpetrating at the time. It therefore wasn’t a land grab in the strict sense. It was extortion.

    Mexico used the money to repress its own Indian population, fight more wars amongst themselves, and generally piss it away.

    Was Polk a great president? With all the above in mind, he certainly was. He made Manifest Destiny manifest. I have no doubt that the annexation of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and California made the world a better place to live in, especially for Mexicans. Today this region is an escape valve for their famously moribund economy and a huge market for the drugs they cultivate. But more that this, does anyone seriously think that Mexicans could have turned California into the world’s seventh largest economy? Does anyone seriously think that if the land had remained in Mexico, Denver would be just another windblown shit Mexican town, with garbage and dead dogs strewn all over the streets? Does anyone seriously think that the descendents of the Mexicans alive at the time are worse off now, as US citizens, than they would be as citizens of Mexico?

    As far as Buchanan goes, his “pricipled opposition to foreign wars” is nothing more than a rancid form of 1930s Republican isolationism. As one of Nixon’s most trusted operators, nothing he can ever say or do will have any credibility at all.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Roque Nuevo
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      says:

      Just b/c the Mexicans couldn’t take Texas back at the time doesn’t mean they didn’t want to take it back.

      I don’t think the article indicates that Pat is OK with imperialism as long we are beating up Mexicans.Report

  5. Avatar Roque Nuevo
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    says:

    I don’t see how you can call the Mexican War anything but imperialism. Like I said, it was a significantly more benign form of it compared with the European version (we paid for the land and declined to turn Mexico into a colony) but it was an episode pf imperialist expansion all the same. I wouldn’t put racism past Buchanan but on the other hand the Mexican war did not imply any so-called foreign entanglements so that could be a reason for a rancid 1930s Republican to support it in spite of his rancid isolationism.Report

  6. Avatar Barry
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    says:

    Roque Nuevo { 11.13.09 at 8:35 pm }

    ” This is one reason why, after eight years, Texas had not been admitted into the Union. Another reason was that Texas would become another slave state. This would unbalance the senate, which, according to the appeasment doctrines of the time, was not possible. Does that count for anything?”

    I think that the word ‘appeasement’ doesn’t apply there, unless it just means “something I don’t like” (a usage with which any GOP politician would agree).

    ” The following is such a selective reading of history, that I have to suspect Buchanan of disingenuousness:”

    IIRC, he recently rewrote history to make Hitler look like more of a victim; when one does that, ‘disingenuous’ is no longer strong enough; ‘lying wh*reson’ is much more applicable.Report

    • Avatar Roque Nuevo in reply to Barry
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      says:

      “Appeasement” means, “to buy off (an aggressor) by concessions usually at the sacrifice of principles” according to Webster’s. The politics of compromise with the slave states began with the Constitution’s famous three-fifths compromise and from there the “compromises” “sacrificed principles” wholesale until we arrived at the Fugitive Slave Law, Dred Scott Decision and so forth. What were we doing if not appeasing the slave economy of the South? The election of a non appeaser, Lincoln, called forth the South’s aggression in 1861.Report

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