1812: Our first war of choice
From 1812 to 2003, a sad history of unnecessary bloodshed
By David Swanson
12:26 PM EDT, May 24, 2012
In this bicentennial year of the start of the War of 1812, the StarSpangledBaltimore.com website tells us:
"The War of 1812 represents what many see as the definitive end of the American Revolution. A new nation, widely regarded as an upstart, successfully defended itself against the largest, most powerful navy in the world during the maritime assault on
But the revolution had ended three decades before 1812, and the choice to launch a new war was made by the
In the lead-up to the War of 1812, the British and Americans exchanged attacks along the Canadian border and in the open seas. Native Americans also exchanged attacks with
Maritime offenses, skirmishes and trade disagreements can be resolved diplomatically, continued at the same low level, or expanded into much more massive killing and destruction. These are options our government still faces today. In 1812, the choice of war resulted in the burning of our national capital, the death in action of some 3,800
And what was gained that could balance out the damage done? Absolutely nothing.
The forgotten goal of the most passionate promoters of launching the War of 1812 had nothing to do with defending
"The conquest of
Taggart went on to present reasons why such a result was by no means to be expected, and of course he was right. But being right is of little value when war fever takes hold.
Vice President Dick Cheney, on March 16, 2003, made a similar claim about Iraqis, despite himself having pointed out its error on television nine years earlier when he had explained why the
Mr. Cheney said of the coming second attack on
This expectation — whether a pretense or sincere and truly stupid — didn't work out in
The Soviets went into
If our culture survives until 2203, can we expect a bicentennial celebration of the Battle of Baghdad? And if so, will alternative perspectives — such as the one I like to call reality — be included?
Here's what I'd prefer: a celebration of Baltimore's aquarium, science museum, children's museum, water taxis, sports stadiums — in fact, almost anything that benefits people, rather than pointlessly killing them.
David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie," from which this article is excerpted and adapted. He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org.
Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs