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September 24, 2019


Lovely piece. And now I pause to go figure out the Polk reference.

In July 1845, Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to Texas, and by October 3,500 Americans were on the Nueces River, ready to take by force the disputed land. Polk wanted to protect the border and also coveted for the U.S. the continent clear to the Pacific Ocean. At the same time Polk wrote to the American consul in the Mexican territory of Alta California, disclaiming American ambitions in California, but offering to support independence from Mexico or voluntary accession to the United States, and warning that the United States would oppose a British or French takeover.[24]

To end another war scare with the United Kingdom over the Oregon Country, Polk signed the Oregon Treaty dividing the territory, angering northern Democrats who felt he was prioritizing Southern expansion over Northern expansion.

In the winter of 1845–46, the federally commissioned explorer John C. Frémont and a group of armed men appeared in Alta California. After telling the Mexican governor and the American Consul Larkin he was merely buying supplies on the way to Oregon, he instead went to the populated area of California and visited Santa Cruz and the Salinas Valley, explaining he had been looking for a seaside home for his mother.[25] Mexican authorities became alarmed and ordered him to leave. Frémont responded by building a fort on Gavilan Peak and raising the American flag. Larkin sent word that Frémont's actions were counterproductive. Frémont left California in March but returned to California and took control of the California Battalion following the outbreak of the Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma.[26]

In November 1845, Polk sent John Slidell, a secret representative, to Mexico City with an offer to the Mexican government of $25 million for the Rio Grande border in Texas and Mexico's provinces of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo México. US expansionists wanted California to thwart British ambitions in the area and to gain a port on the Pacific Ocean. Polk authorized Slidell to forgive the $3 million owed to US citizens for damages caused by the Mexican War of Independence and pay another $25 to $30 million in exchange for the two territories.[27][28]–American_War

I think I should have been clearer. The history of the time I am reasonably well aware of, particularly the Oregon dispute and the Mexican American war. On the other hand the bloody propaganda reference eluded me. It would be interesting to know more about that. Getting a country to march to war, such as the Spanish American War, can be a simple as finding a casus belli, like Remember the Maine! and working the hell out of it. It would be interesting to know how Polk worked this magic considering that many of the officers who conducted the war itself did not find their cause just.

From Abraham Lincoln's speech from the House floor, 12 January 1848:

"This [is an] open attempt to prove, by telling the truth, what [Polk] could not prove by telling the whole truth…. I carefully examined the President’s messages, to ascertain what he himself had said and proved upon the point [of war]. The result of this examination was to make the impression, that taking for true, all the President states as facts, he falls far short of proving his justification; and that the President would have gone farther with his proof, if it had not been for the small matter, that the truth would not permit him…. The President, in his first war message of May 1846, declares that the soil was ours on which hostilities were commenced by Mexico.... [I]t was incumbent upon him, to present the facts, from which he concluded, the soil was ours, on which the first blood of the war was shed…. I propose to try to show, that the whole of this,—issue and evidence—is, from beginning to end, the sheerest deception….

"[T]he President is, in no wise, satisfied with his own positions. First he takes up one, and in attempting to argue us into it, he argues himself out of it; then seizes another, and goes through the same process; and then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he snatches up the old one again …"

That being precisely what the Bush administration did in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Lincoln did indeed show that Polk's was "the sheerest deception," and shortly thereafter he lost his one-term congressional seat. He later advised his fellow pols to never oppose an American war.

I thank you. What better authority could I ask than Abe? It not only answers the question I had in my mind, how did Polk do this, but provides some sound advice for politicians thereafter. I really have wondered how Obama would have voted on the issue of the Iraq war had he been required to do so. My father was fond of telling me that bullshit baffles brains. Wading through much of postmodern academia illustrates this well. But good old bullshit baffles the brainless even more. Same as it ever was. Again thanks.

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