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America’s forgotten war with Mexico

America’s war of expansion over Mexico, backed by newspapers and politicians, has repercussions to the present day.

Shane Quinn

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Reflecting on his life while dying of throat cancer in 1885, the former US President Ulysses S. Grant said the Mexican-American war was, “the most wicked war in history. I thought so at the time, when I was a youngster, only I had not moral courage enough to resign”.

Grant had first-hand experience as he himself fought in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), then as a junior officer in his mid-20s. Less than two decades later, he rose to prominence as one of the most important figures during the American Civil War – as Commanding General his powerful Union Army finally crushed the under-resourced Confederates.

Grant would become a two-term American President (1869-1877), initially taking the job with reluctance. “I have been forced into it in spite of myself”, he wrote to William Sherman, a fellow Union Army general during the civil war.

Despite involvement in various conflicts, the Mexican-American War haunted Grant to the end. “I had a horror of the Mexican War and I have always believed it was on our part most unjust. The wickedness was in the conduct of the war. We had no claim on Mexico. Texas had no claim beyond the Nueces River, and yet we pushed on to the Rio Grande and crossed it. I am always ashamed of my country when I think of that invasion”.

What is striking about Grant’s views today is how remarkably forthright they are. It would prove unthinkable for US presidents in later centuries to express ethical misgivings about the attacks on Korea or Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq – despite the much greater destruction and loss of life.

The defeat of Mexico consolidated US expansion of its territorial size by almost 25%. Texas had initially been annexed from Mexico in 1845, a state almost three times the size of Britain.

The Mexican government refused to recognise Texas’s illegal incorporation into American terrain. By May of the following year (1846), the US had declared war on its southern neighbour. US President James K. Polk utilised the pretext that attacking Mexican forces had “passed the boundary of the United States [in Texas], has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon American soil”.

In truth, the “American soil” was Mexican soil annexed to become part of the US. The Americans were awaiting a ruse in which they could attack Mexico without causing unwanted popular uproar, allowing the US to make further gains into Mexican land.

In all the time since, there has been little demand from democratic leaders for the US to return Mexico’s stolen territories – or at least to recognise a gross injustice was inflicted upon her.

Instead, we hear hypocritical laments over Russia’s “annexation” of Crimea in 2014 – a region that was firstly part of Russia (from 1783-1917) and then later under the sphere of the USSR (1917-1991).

The principal purpose for America’s war of conquest over Mexico was gaining monopoly over cotton production. In the 19th century, cotton was as vital as oil is today, and also represented a key commodity of the slave industry. Control over cotton “would bring England to its feet”. President Polk openly recognised this, as did his immediate predecessor, former President John Tyler.

Indeed, Tyler said of Texas’s 1845 annexation, “By securing the virtual monopoly of the cotton plant”, America had acquired “a greater influence over the affairs of the world than would be found in armies however strong, or navies however numerous”.

Tyler continued, “That monopoly, now secured, places all other nations at our feet. An embargo of a single year would produce in Europe a greater amount of suffering than a fifty years war. I doubt whether Great Britain could avoid convulsions”.

The American victory over Mexico in February 1848, led to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It saw the US take not only Texas from Mexico, but also California, half of New Mexico, most of Arizona, Nevada and Utah, along with parts of Wyoming and Colorado. Much of these areas were rich in cotton, with the conquests signifying an epic land-grab whose repercussions last to the current day.

In keeping with modern times, the Free Press championed America’s illegal interventions. James Gordon Bennett – editor and founder of the New York Herald – then the US’s biggest selling newspaper, wrote approvingly that Britain was “completely bound and manacled with the cotton cords. A lever with which we can successfully control” their main rival. Not a word of the unwarranted acts perpetrated against Mexico.

Indeed, Bennett was hopeful that the Mexicans’ fate would be “similar to that of the Indians of this country – the race, before a century rolls over, will become extinct”. He wrote about the “imbecility and degradation of the Mexican people”.

Bennett was one of the major figures in the history of the American press, and felt that “the idea of amalgamation [of races] has been always abhorrent to the Anglo-Saxon race on this continent”.

​The Cincinnati Herald editor described Mexicans as “degraded mongrel races”, along with Native Americans. The editor of the Augusta Daily Chronicle, in Georgia, offered prior warning in 1846 that attacking Mexico would likely reveal “a sickening mixture, consisting of such a conglomeration of Negroes and Rancheros, Mestizoes and Indians, with but a few Castilians [Spaniards]”.

In 1845 James Buchanan, future US President, insisted that “our race of men can never be subjected to the imbecile and indolent Mexican race”. Texas Senator Sam Houston went even further, saying in 1848 that “the Mexicans are no better than Indians, and I see no reason why we should not go on in the same course now and take their land [all of Mexico].”

Walt Whitman, America’s famous journalist and poet, asked “What has miserable, inefficient Mexico… to do with the great mission of peopling the New World with a noble race?”

With these prevailing attitudes, a quick, easy victory was expected over Mexico. However, it was anything but, as the Mexican Army fought valiantly, surprising its over-confident American foe. The conflict lasted almost two years, before the weight of superior US forces finally told.

Following Mexico’s defeat, a new artificial border was imposed which remained quite open. Those wishing to cross it to visit relatives or engage in commerce found it a straightforward affair. That is, until the 1990s, when the Clinton administration began fortifying and militarising the Mexican border.

George W. Bush then aggressively expanded upon Clinton’s initiatives along the frontier – under the pretexts of shielding the US from illegal immigrants, terrorists or drug dealers.

The territorial gains over Mexico have largely been erased from memory, despite having occurred comfortably within the past 200 years. It seems plausible that many Americans living in Texas or California may be unaware they are sitting on occupied Mexican land.

The American writer and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It really doesn’t matter by what means Mexico is taken, as it contributes to the mission of ‘civilising the world’ and, in the long run, it will be forgotten”.

It has not been forgotten by Mexicans, however. In April this year Mexico’s former presidential candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, urged his government to bring a lawsuit against America in the International court of Justice, for reparations and indemnification.

A lawyer working for Cardenas said, “We are going to make a strong and tough case, because we are right. They were in Mexican territory in a military invasion”. One suspects Ulysses S. Grant would be in their corner.

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High-ranking Ukrainian official reports on US interference in Ukraine

It is not usually the case that an American media outlet tells the truth about Ukraine, but it appears to have happened here.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Hill committed what may well have been a random act of journalism when it reported that Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, told Hill.tv’s reporter John Solomon that the American ambassador to that country, Marie Yovanovitch, gave him a “do not prosecute” list at their first meeting.

Normally, all things Russia are covered by the American press as “bad”, and all things Ukraine are covered by the same as “good.” Yet this report reveals quite a bit about the nature of the deeply embedded US interests that are involved in Ukraine, and which also attempt to control and manipulate policy in the former Soviet republic.

The Hill’s piece continues (with our added emphases):

“Unfortunately, from the first meeting with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, [Yovanovitch] gave me a list of people whom we should not prosecute,” Lutsenko, who took his post in 2016, told Hill.TV last week.

“My response of that is it is inadmissible. Nobody in this country, neither our president nor our parliament nor our ambassador, will stop me from prosecuting whether there is a crime,” he continued.

Indeed, the Prosecutor General appears to be a man of some principles. When this report was brought to the attention of the US State Department, the response was predictable:

The State Department called Lutsenko’s claim of receiving a do not prosecute list, “an outright fabrication.” 

“We have seen reports of the allegations,” a department spokesperson told Hill.TV. “The United States is not currently providing any assistance to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), but did previously attempt to support fundamental justice sector reform, including in the PGO, in the aftermath of the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. When the political will for genuine reform by successive Prosecutors General proved lacking, we exercised our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer and redirected assistance to more productive projects.”

This is an amazing statement in itself. “Our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer”? Are Americans even aware that their country is spending their tax dollars in an effort to manipulate a foreign government in what can probably well be called a low-grade proxy war with the Russian Federation? Again, this appears to be a slip, as most American media do a fair job of maintaining the narrative that Ukraine is completely independent and that its actions regarding the United States and Russia are taken in complete freedom.

Hill.TV has reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine for comment.

Lutsenko also said that he has not received funds amounting to nearly $4 million that the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine was supposed to allocate to his office, saying that “the situation was actually rather strange” and pointing to the fact that the funds were designated, but “never received.”

“At that time we had a case for the embezzlement of the U.S. government technical assistance worth 4 million U.S. dollars, and in that regard, we had this dialogue,” he said. “At that time, [Yovanovitch] thought that our interviews of Ukrainian citizens, of Ukrainian civil servants, who were frequent visitors of the U.S. Embassy put a shadow on that anti-corruption policy.”

“Actually, we got the letter from the U.S. Embassy, from the ambassador, that the money that we are speaking about [was] under full control of the U.S. Embassy, and that the U.S. Embassy did not require our legal assessment of these facts,” he said. “The situation was actually rather strange because the funds we are talking about were designated for the prosecutor general’s office also and we told [them] we have never seen those, and the U.S. Embassy replied there was no problem.”

“The portion of the funds, namely 4.4 million U.S. dollars were designated and were foreseen for the recipient Prosecutor General’s office. But we have never received it,” he said.

Yovanovitch previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Armenia under former presidents Obama and George W. Bush, as well as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan under Bush. She also served as ambassador to Ukraine under Obama.

Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who was at the time House Rules Committee chairman, voiced concerns about Yovanovitch in a letter to the State Department last year in which he said he had proof the ambassador had spoken of her “disdain” for the Trump administration.

This last sentence may be a way to try to narrow the scope of American interference in Ukraine down to the shenanigans of just a single person with a personal agenda. However, many who have followed the story of Ukraine and its surge in anti-Russian rhetoric, neo-Naziism, ultra-nationalism, and the most recent events surrounding the creation of a pseudo-Orthodox “church” full of Ukrainian nationalists and atheists as a vehicle to import “Western values” into a still extremely traditional and Christian land, know that there are fingerprints of the United States “deep state” embeds all over this situation.

It is somewhat surprising that so much that reveals the problem showed up in just one report. It will be interesting to see if this gets any follow-up in the US press.

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Bercow blocks Brexit vote, May turns to EU for lifeline (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s latest Brexit dilemma, as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, shocked the world by citing a 1604 precedent that now effectively blocks May’s third go around at trying to pass her treacherous Brexit deal through the parliament.

All power now rests with the Brussels, as to how, if and when the UK will be allowed to leave the European Union.

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Via Bloomberg


Theresa May claims Brexit is about taking back control. Ten days before the U.K. is due to leave the European Union, it looks like anything but.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s intervention, citing precedent dating back to 1604, to rule out a repeat vote on May’s already defeated departure deal leaves the prime minister exposed ahead of Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels.

Bercow, whose cries of “Orrdurrr! Orrdurrr!’’ to calm rowdy lawmakers have gained him a devoted international following, is now the pivotal figure in the Brexit battle. May’s team privately accuse him of trying to frustrate the U.K.’s exit from the EU, while the speaker’s admirers say he’s standing up for the rights of parliament against the executive.

If just one of the 27 other states declines May’s summit appeal to extend the divorce timetable, then the no-deal cliff edge looms for Britain’s departure on March 29. If they consent, it’s unclear how May can meet Bercow’s test that only a substantially different Brexit agreement merits another vote in parliament, since the EU insists it won’t reopen negotiations.

Caught between Bercow and Brussels, May’s room for maneuver is shrinking. Amid rumblings that their patience with the U.K. is near exhaustion, EU leaders are girding for the worst.

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President Putin signs law blocking fake news, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

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