‘Unprovoked’ Attacks, From 1812 to 9/11

grenadaThe killing of Osama bin Laden reminds us that there are only two disciplines in which uncaused events occur—quantum physics and the history of U.S. foreign policy.

According to the version of history expounded by the American media and politicians, the passenger aircraft hitting the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11 were a diabolical surprise attack out of the blue by the evil bin Laden against unsuspecting and naïve Americans.

Of course, Americans were naïve, but principally about their government’s political and military interventions in Muslim countries since World War II, and especially since 1980. Bin Laden was blunt about this in his pronouncements on why he attacked the United States, but America never wanted to hear.

But this is not the first time in America’s version of its history that uncaused events have just happened. All countries twist their history into a more favorable light, and America is no exception.

The sanitized version of American history begins early with the War of 1812. If causes are discussed at all, the war was allegedly caused by British violation of American rights of neutral shipping during the Napoleonic Wars and the impressment of American sailors to fill shortages of manpower on British warships during those wars.

Yet these affronts had been going on for more than a decade, and the region most adversely affected by them—seafaring New England—was almost in open revolt against the U.S. government over war with Britain. A more important reason that the new American nation unwisely declared war on a superpower was the election of “war hawks” to Congress in 1810. They wanted to grab Canada, and when the war started, an American invasion force was quickly dispatched there to do so.

The Mexican War set a precedent for what became a rich tradition in the American democracy of provoking your enemy into firing first. President James Polk—who wanted to and did steal one-third of Mexico’s land by using military force against a much weaker country—deliberately sent U.S. forces into a disputed area on the Texas-Mexico border, because he calculated that the Mexicans would attack that force in defending their border.

The Mexicans had a much better border claim than did the Americans. Most historians agree that Polk provoked the war to grab the land, but they don’t focus on the fact that Polk had also blockaded the Rio Grande River—an internationally recognized act of war. So the United States didn’t just provoke the enemy to attack, it started the war, just as in the War of 1812.

Almost erased from the history of the Civil War and the actions of the now-canonized Abraham Lincoln is his deliberate provocation of the Confederates to fire on a supply ship to Fort Sumter. They had already done so on another such ship at the very end of the James Buchanan administration, so Lincoln knew what would happen when he sent the ship. Lincoln even admitted that he was trying to get the Confederates to fire first. As George W. Bush did when he fell into bin Laden’s trap and invaded Iraq after 9/11, the Confederates foolishly took the bait and even went Lincoln one better. They not only fired on the ship but also the fort, thus beginning the most cataclysmic war in U.S. history.

One of the most outrageous distortions in American history is the standard version of the “massacre” of George Armstrong Custer’s forces at the Little Bighorn—as if it just occurred out of the blue with an attack by warlike savages. In the now-erased lead-up to the massacre, the U.S. Army had been “protecting” the Native Americans from the inflow of voracious miners, who had found gold on Indian land, by surrounding the Indians while the miners stole their gold. Furthermore, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse attacked only soldiers at Little Bighorn, whereas the American military, and especially the ruthless Custer, regularly used scorched-earth tactics to kill Native American men, women, and children and burn Indian crops.

In the Spanish-American War, the United States took advantage of the sinking of the Maine in the port of Havana—even at the time, arguments were made that it was an accident, which later was found to be almost assuredly the case—to start a war against weak Spain in an attempt to grab its colonies in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines. cont’d on page 2

Published by the LA Progressive on May 13, 2011
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Pages: 1 2

About Ivan Eland

Ivan Eland is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute. Dr. Eland is a graduate of Iowa State University and received an M.B.A. in applied economics and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Washington University. He has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, and he spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, including stints as an investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. He also has served as Evaluator-in-Charge (national security and intelligence) for the U.S. General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office), and has testified on the military and financial aspects of NATO expansion before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on CIA oversight before the House Government Reform Committee, and on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Dr. Eland is the author of The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed and Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy, as well as The Efficacy of Economic Sanctions as a Foreign Policy Tool. He is a contributor to numerous volumes and the author of 45 in-depth studies on national security issues.

His articles have appeared in American Prospect, Arms Control Today, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Emory Law Journal, The Independent Review, Issues in Science and Technology (National Academy of Sciences), Mediterranean Quarterly, Middle East and International Review, Middle East Policy, Nexus, Chronicle of Higher Education, American Conservative, International Journal of World Peace, and Northwestern Journal of International Affairs. Dr. Eland's popular writings have appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Miami Herald, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Newsday, Sacramento Bee, Orange County Register, Washington Times, Providence Journal, The Hill, and Defense News. He has appeared on ABC's “World News Tonight,” NPR's “Talk of the Nation,” PBS, Fox News Channel, CNBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN, CNN “Crossfire,” CNN-fn, C-SPAN, MSNBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC), Canadian TV (CTV), Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, BBC, and other local, national, and international TV and radio programs.