Friday, May 05, 2006

Iraq Is Really Like . . . The War of 1812?

With all the overwrought comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam (the only real comparison is that they're guerilla wars. And it's not like Vietnam was the first) it's worth examining another comparison that might be more politically educational. And that is . . . the War of 1812!

The Wikipedia entry on the origins of the war notes that the British government "had already revoked the restrictions on American commerce" by the time war was declared on June 18, 1812 but that information hadn't yet reached the western hemisphere. Still, this reflects the basic unseriousness of the diplomatic approach to the main ostensible grievance reflecting, again, the fact that a hunt was under way to find an excuse for war. We even learn that "[s]ome Americans argued that the majority of the population in the British colonies would rise up and greet an American invading army as liberators."

It's interesting. While the facts of the wars themselves are different, of course, I think this is more an interesting case of looking at how the domestic politics are similar. Of course, Yglesias goes on after this to talk about how we wished we had actually invaded and taken over most of Canada to politically weaken the south and make us more socialist (or would the opposite have happened, I wonder, and Canada become more Americanized?).

Personally, I think if you want to make Iraq analogies you can do it all day long. There are similarities between all kinds of wars. And some of them draw educational points and some of them not. Nothing is going to be a perfect fit. I think the closest, for my money though, is the Phillipine Insurrection.