Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rules of Engagement for War With Mexico

"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." - Ulysses S Grant (Mexican-American war veteran)

Speaking of illegal border crossings…

Based on the president‘s (small "p" intentional) latest position on US/Mexican relations, it is advised that you brush up on your Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which -- as the readership expects – the drawing-in room will pull together for you.

The frustration in the president’s voice is clear: they just won’t stop coming over! And… working. And setting up households. Maybe because they thought it was still Mexico.

Isn’t Manifest Destiny more than a little bit embarrassing?

So set the facts in order:
the wet (pause) backs in 1846 belonged to the 4,000 US Troops who crossed the Rio Grande expecting to claim Mexico, after that government turned down a $25 million offer to buy all of present-day California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming, and what was left of the land the Republic of Texas (by then US territory) hadn’t gotten.

("come on, Ese, the French were cool with it.” )

By the way, México was being offered top dollar in comparison to the 15M 1802 dollars Jefferson paid for Louisiana. Pay attention to that figure; it comes back later.

The thing to do, when you offer to buy an entire country and you are told to take a hike, is to simply take it over. After all… it is your destiny.

The war was settled 2 years, 50,000 dead, and $15M later, with Mexico, as we know, losing the land after all. (click here for the most interesting story of this war.)

Which brings us back to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, all ante-bellum (the other one) flowery and gentlemanly, which includes an Article on the rules of re-engaging if “god forbid” (real quote) it should come to that. This is like making up with your cheating spouse by telling him how you will set his bed on fire next time.

Here’s how it will go down:

merchants of either republic … shall be allowed to remain …to collect their debts and settle their affairs; during which periods they shall enjoy the same protection …as the citizens…of the most friendly nations… Upon the entrance of the armies of either nation into the territories of the other, women and children, ecclesiastics, scholars of every faculty, cultivators of the earth, merchants, artisans, manufacturers, and fishermen, unarmed and inhabiting unfortified towns, villages, or places, and in general all persons whose occupations are for the common subsistence and benefit of mankind, shall be allowed to continue their respective employments, unmolested in their persons.

Nor shall their houses or goods be burnt or otherwise destroyed, nor their cattle taken, nor their fields wasted…if the necessity arise to take anything from them for the use of such armed force, the same shall be paid for at an equitable price.

Isn’t that civilized? I am so glad to be a woman, continuing my respective woman-type employment. If you are not, I hope you are at least an ecclesiastic.

The text goes into some detail about prisoners of war, and deadlines to depart, but there is no real worry of conflict. After all, the treaty also promises

the said Governments… promise to each other that they will endeavour…to preserve the state of peace and friendship in which the two countries are now placing themselves, And if… they should not be enabled to come to an agreement…[they will not resort to] hostility of any kind… until the Government [which] deems itself aggrieved shall have maturely considered, in the spirit of peace and good neighbourship, whether it would not be better that such difference should be settled by the arbitration of commissioners appointed on each side, or by that of a friendly nation.

So we’re ok.

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