Not one of these generals led
America into a new war.
Washington was heroic in keeping
the young republic out of the wars that erupted in
Europe after the French Revolution, as were his
successors John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
Jackson, arguably America`s
greatest soldier—who won the
Battle of New Orleans, which preserved the Union,
and virtually annexed Florida—resisted until his final
days in office recognizing
Republic of Texas, liberated by his great friend and
subaltern Sam Houston.
Jackson wanted no war with Mexico.
Eisenhower came to office
determined to end the war in Korea. In six months, he
succeeded—and kept America out of the raging war in
Of the men who led us into our 19th
century wars—the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil
War and the Spanish-American War—only one, William
McKinley, was a soldier who had seen combat.
Though derided as having
"the backbone of
a chocolate eclair" by the bellicose Theodore
confided to a friend before going to war with Spain:
"I have been through one war. … I have seen the dead piled up. I do
not want to see another."
James Madison, who took us into the
War of 1812, which came close to tearing apart the
Union; James Polk, who took us to war with Mexico and
gave us Texas to the Rio Grande, the Southwest and
California; and Abraham Lincoln, who led the nation in
its bloodiest war, were politicians. Lincoln had served
three months in the Illinois Militia in the Black Hawk
War, but he never saw action.
America was led into the world wars
by Woodrow Wilson, a professor, and Franklin Roosevelt,
a politician. Harry Truman, who took us into Korea, had
artillery battery in France in 1918. John F.
Kennedy, who led us into Vietnam,
had served on a PT boat in the Solomons. George H.W.
Bush, who launched Desert Storm, was one of the youngest
Navy pilots to fight in the Pacific war.
While Americans this Memorial Day
put flags out for all of their war dead, the arguments
do not cease over the wisdom of the wars in which they
fought and died.
In the grammar and high schools we
attended in the 1940s and early 1950s, they were all
good wars, all just wars, all necessary wars. Perhaps
that is how it should be taught to America`s children.
Yet, if the Revolution was a great
and good cause, men fighting for freedom and nationhood,
the War of 1812, where we were a de facto ally of
Napoleon, seems a less noble endeavor. For among our
seizing Canada while the Mother Country was
Though deplored today, the Mexican
an unjust war.
Far from stealing Mexican territory
after our victory, we paid for it, and the Mexicans,
five years later, agreed to the Gadsden Purchase and
us Baja California. The greed was in Mexico City.
As for America`s Civil War, this
quarrel will never end. Did not the South have the same
right to secede from the Union as the 13 colonies did to
secede from England? Did Lincoln have the right to use
blockade and invasion to drive Old Dixie down? His
predecessor James Buchanan did not think so.
Was the Civil War essential to
ending slavery, when many states had already abolished
it by legislation and every nation in the hemisphere
ended it without a civil war, save for Haiti?
The Spanish-American War, begun
over a falsehood—that Spain blew up the
USS Maine in
Havana harbor—ended with American soldiers and Marines
fighting for years to deny Filipinos the freedom for
which our fathers fought in the Revolution. Cuba was
liberated, but the Philippines, 10,000 miles from
Washington, was annexed. That was an imperial war.
In 1917, we declared war on Germany
"to make the
world safe for democracy." And our major allies
were four of the largest empires on earth: the British,
French, Russian and Japanese. We deposed the Kaiser, and
got Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler and
World War II.
As a result of these world wars,
all the Western empires fell, and Western Civilization
began its inexorable advance to the grave. Impending
bankruptcy aside, not one Western nation has a birth
rate that will enable its native-born to survive many
more generations. We did it to ourselves.
About Vietnam, Iraq and
Afghanistan—and the presidents who fought those wars,
LBJ, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush—the
divisions are still deep and emotions raw. Today is
not the time to re-fight them, but to honor and pray for
the patriots who, throughout our history, did their
duty, fought and died in them.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to
VDARE.COM readers; his book State
of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and
Conquest of America, can
be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How
Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost
Paul Craig Roberts.