Friday, July 14, 2006

Don't Show This To Mel Gibson

I stumbled across a provocative piece at TPM Cafe: "The Tragedy of American Independence".

"File this one under 'why do liberals hate America?'but this time of year I'm always intrigued by the view that American independence was more-or-less a giant mistake....

The point is simply that, unlike a lot of superficially similar conflicts, there wasn't some kind of deep national antagonism between Americans and British nor was there an especially gaping ideological void. The issues at stake were eminently compromisable, had wiser leadership been available...

Consider that Canada and the other dominions entered the world wars at the same time as Britain rather than on the USA's leisurely pace. If we'd gotten into World War II in 1939 rather than 1941 the war, presumably, would have been considerably shorter and many lives could have been saved. Even better would be if American entry into World War I in 1914 rather than 1917 could have brought about German defeat fast enough to prevent the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. If that had turned out differently, the world would have turned out to be a much, much, much better place."

Hat Tip: Daniel Drezner


Joe Otten said...

I blame it all on the madness of King George and the hereditary principle in government.

Tristan said...

Its impossible to play the 'what if' game seriously, but it is fun to think about.

It make me wonder though, would the expansion to the west have happened in the same way? Mexico may still have control of Texas and California etc.

Would we have had a big British-Spanish war?

Slavery would probably have been abolished sooner, but may have led to a revolt by some states (although slavery was not the only reason for the civil war).

There was certainly room for negotiation, if the British political scene had been more flexible then many of the american leaders would have remained under British rule (I do feel the demands of the revolutionaries were reasonable).

The effects could have been interesting, less of a rise of the nation state perhaps, and perhaps the US could have acted as a Liberal influence on British politics.

Bernie Hughes said...

The American civil war had about as much to do with slavery as the current fiasco in Iraq has to do with democracy.

The British-Spanish war idea is interesting. I guess it would have been very likely. The Spanish empire was finally put to bed in 1898 in the war over Cuba with the US. If it had been a British-Spanish war over Cuba than perhaps the First World War would have started earlier, with Britain & Germany fighting France & Spain!

Chris Black said...

Yes, I think you're probably right, Tristan. Mexico would have kept California, New Mexico and Arizona.

Texas might have been an independent buffer state between Mexico and British North America.

Bernie, if we'd had war with the Spanish, they'd still be making films about the battle for Gibraltar...

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