The Mexican War/The War Against Iraq

The Mexican War/The War Against Iraq

The Mexican war between the U.S. and Mexico was started because of a Mexican attack on American troops along the southern border of Texas on April 25, 1846. After Winfield Scott occupied Mexico City on September 14,1847, a few months later a peace treaty was signed between Mexico and the U.S.

A dictatorial Centralist government in Mexico began the war because of the U.S. annexation (1845) of Texas, which Mexico continued to claim despite the establishment of the independent republic of Texas 10 years before. Another possible cause for the war may be that the U.S. brought on the war by annexing Texas and, just to make Mexico angry, by stationing an army at the mouth of the Rio Grande.

During the war Mexico’s government was very unstable because the federal constitution of 1824 had been abrogated in 1835 and replaced by a centralized dictatorship. Also the Federalists, who supported a constitutional democracy, and the Centralists, who were in control of the government from 1835 to December 1844, were opposed factions of each other. Numerous rebellions had occurred within Mexican territory and the Texas revolution had resulted in the independence of Texas. In December 1844 a coalition of moderates and Federalists forced the dictator Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna into exile and put Jose Joaquin Herrera as the acting president of Mexico but still other Centralists in favor of Santa Anna began planning to overthrow Herrera, and the U.S. annexation of Texas provided them with a perfect cause.

The annexation of Texas by the U.S. had also caused trouble within the United States. James Polk won the 1844 presidential election by advocating a belligerent stand against Britain on the Oregon Question. After he was in office, he declared, “…. the people of this continent alone have the right to decide their own destiny.” Also the term Manifest Destiny came into the picture to describe what was regarded as a God-given right to expand the U.S. territory.


For most of the Cold War, Iraq was a socialist dictatorship with close relations with the Soviet Union, and America used Saudi Arabia and Iran as its main partners in the Gulf. But, in 1979, this relationship fell when Iranian revolutionaries deposed the American-backed shah and took U.S. hostages. So president Washington had to look elsewhere for different allies in the region. Since then, America has tried several Iraq policies: engagement during the 1980s, armed confrontation during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis, containment through the 1990s, and now “regime change”, which makes replacing Iraqi president Saddam Hussein the focus of the U.S. policy.

Concerning one of the policies, the United States decided to engage with Iraq during the 1980s because U.S. officials thought Saddam’s secular dictatorship could prove a useful counterweight to the Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime in Iran, which bothered the Middle East with its vows to export Islamist fundamentalism and deprived America of one of its key regional partners. Iraq attacked Iran in 1980, starting a harsh, eight-year war that claimed a million lives. U.S. officials were very happy to see Iran battered. This war caused Iraq to start selling increasing quantities of oil to the United States, and at a discount.

Even after Iraq received American support, their behavior still did not improve very much. Its human rights record stayed very dreadful, continuing with the Anfal, a murderous campaign against its own Kurdish minority. In 1982, the State Department removed Iraq from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism so that the United States could legally provide arms, agricultural credits, and other support to Iraq in its war with Iran. But Iraq continued to back Palestinian terrorist groups that sought the destruction of Israel, even as it paid service to supporting the idea of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. The Reagan administration also accepted Iraq’s insistence that a 1987 Iraqi air strike that killed 37 sailors of the U.S.S. Stark, a navy frigate, was accidental and overlooked Saddam’s use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops and against Iraqi Kurds during the Anfal.


In 1990, when Iraq invaded its tiny, oil-rich neighbor, Kuwait, U.S. and Iraq relations broke down. In response, the United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, and the United Stated sent 500,000 troops to defend Saudi Arabia against a possible Iraqi invasion. In the winter of 1991, after a U.N. deadline for Saddam to withdraw from Kuwait expired, a U.N.-authorized, U.S.-led coalition drove Iraq out but stopped short of removing Saddam.

President George Bush and his advisers didn’t destroy Saddam Hussein at the end of the Gulf War because, they say that, they had a U.N. mandate to liberate Kuwait, not to remove Saddam, and that the coalition would have fallen apart had they gone any further. But experts also include other reasons, including a lack of preparation for and reluctance to run a post-Saddam Iraq; reluctance to fight house to house in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities; concern that Iran would take advantage of further regional instability; fears that Iraq would fragment, with the Kurds in the north seeking independent statehood and the Shiites in the south seeking to join Iran; and expectations that Saddam’s regime was so weakened by his shameful defeat that it was doomed anyway. President Bush called to Iraqis to rise up against Saddam, and many Iraqi Kurds and Shiites did. But U.S. forces did not reinforce them or prevent Saddam from attacking them, and he quickly crushed the rebellion.

After the Gulf War the U.S. policy was containment to use on Iraq but the United States was not able to contain Iraq for long because it became less and less effective over time. As Saddam survived several containment attempts, and as the containment regime-sanctions, weapons, inspections, and no-fly zones-stayed in place for far longer than expected, Iraq figured out how to get around the U.N. controls, and international support for these restrictions eroded.


After 9/11 the U.S. policy on Iraq caused the Bush administration to push for regime change. At first, U.S. officials suspected that Iraq was somehow behind the attacks, but there was no hard evidence linking Saddam to the attacks. In September 2002, Bush told the U.N. General assembly that Saddam’s regime poses an immediate threat because of its unique history of attacking its neighbors and using chemical weapons, its support for terrorist groups, its chronic defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and its dogged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

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