Thursday, September 20, 2007

The American Civil War and The War in Iraq:Drawing Parallels

It is always tenuous to try and draw parallels between historic events especially wars. Most of liberal friends and colleagues get angry whenever I try to draw that parallel mself. It is one they want nothing to do with because after a long, bloody and quite unpopular war, in the end, a hapless, unaccomplished, steadfast, and in many ways, stubborn, President was ultimately proved correct. History of course has lauded Abraham Lincoln as a great leader, a man of courage, and of conviction, but that was not the way his opponents saw him then.

Take a look at the 1864 Democratic Party platform.

Resolved, that in the future, as in the past, we will adhere with
unswerving fidelity to the Union under the Constitution, as the only solid
foundation of our strength, security, and happiness as a people, and as a
framework of government equally conducive to the welfare and prosperity of
the States, both Northern and Southern.
1864 Democratic Presidential
General George B. McClellan

Resolved, that this convention
does explicitly declare, as the sense of the
American people, that after
four years of failure to restore the Union by the
experiment of war, during
which, under the pretence of military necessity, or
war power higher than
the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been
disregarded in every
part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden
down, and the
material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice,
liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made
for a
cessation of hostilities, with a view to an ultimate convention of the
States or other peaceable means, to the end that at the earliest practicable
moment peace may be restored on the basis of the federal Union of the

Resolved, that the direct interference of the military
authorities of the
United States in the recent elections held in Kentucky,
Maryland, Missouri, and
Delaware, was a shameful violation of the
Constitution, and a repetition of such
acts in the approaching election will
be held as revolutionary, and resisted
with all the means and power under
our control.

Resolved, that the aim and object of the Democratic party
are to preserve
the federal Union and the rights of the States unimpaired ;
and they hereby
declare that they consider the administrative usurpation of
extraordinary and
dangerous powers not granted by the Constitution; the
subversion of the civil by
the military laws in States not in insurrection;
the arbitrary military arrest,
imprisonment, trial, and sentence of American
citizens in States where civil law
exists in full force; the suppression of
freedom of speech and of the press; the
denial of the right of asylum; the
open and avowed disregard of State rights;
the employment of unusual test
oaths, and the interference with and denial of
the right of the people to
bear arms in their defense, as calculated to prevent
a restoration of the
Union and the perpetuation of a government deriving its
just powers from the
consent of the governed.

Resolved, that the shameful disregard by the
administration of its duty in
respect to our fellow-citizens who are now and
have long been prisoners of war
in a suffering condition, deserves the
severest reprobation on the score alike
of public policy and common

Resolved, that the sympathy of the Democratic party is
heartily and
earnestly extended to the soldiers of our army and the seamen
of our navy, who
are and have been in the field under the flag of their
country; and, in the
event of its attaining power, they will receive all the
care, protection, and
regard that the brave soldiers and sailors of the
republic have so nobly

Now, take a look at this diary from the Virginian

First, although the war was about saving the Union and ending slavery, it was
– as it was known throughout much of the South - the “War of Northern
Unfair, perhaps, but the South’s objective in the Civil War was
to be left to secede in peace, not to invade or conquer the North. The Civil
War’s fighting was ostensibly begun by the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the
surrender of Major Anderson and his 85 troops. The fighting was not expected to last very long at all,
and the surrender of the fort's defenders was quickly followed by their release
to Union warships outside Charleston harbor. Major Anderson later became a Union
General. But, while the skirmish at Fort Sumter marked the initiation of
shooting, the Civil War was started by Abraham Lincoln’s decision to prevent the
South from seceding, and his willingness to use military force to prevent
it.Lincoln was determined to preserve the Union and – as a result – Northern
armies invaded the states that seceded to bring them back under Federal
Government control.

Virtually all of the war was fought on secessionist soil.Today we consider
that a good thing. But it was not inevitable. Lincoln could have allowed the
South to secede and made arrangements with the Confederate government to
cooperate in developing another separate country on the North American
continent, thereby saving roughly 600,000 lives; 2% of the population.

In todya's terms that same death toll would equal 6 million people.Following
the war, the South was treated as conquered enemy territory during “Reconstruction” and its economy was so
devastated that it took a century before it fully recovered.There were many
people who opposed the war.

First or course were the 10 million people of the Southern states who would just
as soon not fight an invading army. But even among the 20 million Northerners,
there was a very large contingent who did not feel the war was worthwhile and
who were content to see the South secede. Among these was George McClellan, the top
Northern General at the beginning of the war who ran against Abraham Lincoln in
1864 when his party – the Democrats – ran on an anti-war platform, promising to
end the war and negotiate with the Confederacy

read the rest at the link...

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