Thursday, January 30, 2014

Civil War Causes: Federal Installations in Seccession States

There were many contributing factors to the outbreak of the Civil War.  These factors ranged from the election of Lincoln as president, in which Lincoln stated in his inauguration speech in March of 1861 that he would pursue his free soil policy, and the Dred Scott v. Sanford ruling of the Supreme Court, in which the republican ideology of free soil in western territories was determined unconstitutional, to the Compromise of 1850 and the political incitement of northern abolitionism.  I have chosen a cause to the war that occurred at the beginning of southern succession, which originated due to the various collective factors previously mentioned.  The Union attempt, accelerated after Lincoln’s entry to office, to maintain control of military forts in seceded southern states was the cause of the actual Civil War conflict.  Lincoln promised in his 1861 inaugural speech “to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government” [1].

As the first wave of southern states seceded, there were still Union troops stationed at the military forts in those states.  South Carolina, the first state to defect from the Union, was followed by Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, while Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Arkansas still remained loosely attached to the Union.  By the time Lincoln entered into office, the problem for the Union in pursuing this policy was that “the new Confederacy had seized Federal property including most of the forts and arsenals in the territory of the Confederacy” [2].  Months into 1861, only Fort Sumter in Charleston and Fort Pickens in Pensacola had not been seized from Union control.  The Union supply ship, the Star of the West, while trying to deliver supplies to Fort Sumter had been fired on and turned back in January 1861.  

Major Robert Anderson sent correspondence to the outgoing administration detailing the Confederate threats to vacate Fort Sumter, and stating requirements for supplies and reinforcements if there was any chance of Union troops maintaining control of the fort [3].  The incident of the Star of the West being turned back from Sumter had occurred while Buchanan was still in office.  When Lincoln entered office and attempted to resupply the Union troops at Fort Sumter, the Confederacy began shelling the fort and overtook possession of Sumter before northern reinforcements and supplies could make any difference in the outcome. 

In response to the Confederacy attack on Sumter, Lincoln issued a proclamation on April 15, 1861 calling for “the militia of the several states of the Union to the aggregate number of 75,000 in order to suppress said combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed” [4].  The result of this mobilization pushed the fence-riding slave states of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas to the confederacy and began the Civil War.

Until the shelling of Fort Sumter by the Confederacy, there was still possibility of some kind of political or diplomatic reconciliation without actual all-out war.  While the contributing economic and political dividing issues between the north and south were enough to bring the young United States to division, I view the hardline position of the Union in proclaiming government establishments in the territories of seceded southern states, most importantly federal and military facilities, as the main cause of the war.  After all, President Buchanan had even “denied the legal right of states to secede, but held that the Federal Government legally could not prevent them” [5].  Had another avenue of approach been taken, there may not have been a Civil War.  Of course, in such a scenario where no physical warfare ever occurred, we might possibly find two neighboring nation-states today or a single United States quite different on social, economic and political levels from the United States we live in today.

1.  Roland Marchand.  2010.  “Lincoln and the Outbreak of War, 1861.”  University of California, Davis: The History Project.  Accessed January 30, 2014.

2.  Roland Marchand.  2010.  “Lincoln and the Outbreak of War, 1861.”  University of California, Davis: The History Project.  Accessed January 30, 2014.

3.  Robert Anderson.  1861.  General Correspondence between Robert Anderson and Samuel Cooper dated February 28, 1861.  The Library of Congress.  Accessed January 30, 2014.

4.  Abraham Lincoln.  1861.  "Proclamation 80 - Calling Forth the Militia and Convening an Extra Session of Congress," April 15, 1861. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley,

5.  The White House.  2014.  “Biography of James Buchanan”.  The White House Website.  Accessed on January 30, 2014.  .

Review on Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth's 'Don't Come Home, America': Retrenchment or Deep Engagement

The Brooks, Ikenberry, and Wohlforth argument is bias against retrenchment from the beginning and focuses on debunking realist theories for reducing the U.S. military grand strategy, sometimes by very generalized arguments in which they claim no empirical data, while debating in favor of the current hegemonic military entrenchment of the U.S on the international stage.  As a realist, I had favored the complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and a significant reduction of deployed U.S. military forces and outgoing U.S. military foreign aid on the international stage, before I read the article and I still hold the position after reading the discussion, even though Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth presented a few rational arguments in favor of the status quo.  Regardless of current deep global entrenchment policies, the entrapment of long military occupations aimed to rebuild foreign state regimes that are friendly to capitalism or to benefit so-called foreign allies, often encouraged by the powerful foreign lobby, is not a economically healthy policy for the United States as is clearly shown by the statistics showing that ninety percent of all war costs and ninety-four percent of American war casualties since the end of the Cold War have been from Afghanistan and Iraq (Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth, 2012, p. 31).  These numbers do not include the severely wounded or amputees that have returned from these imperialist missions.

In response to the realist argument on the costs of deep engagement, the authors argued that deep entrenchment is not the sole cause of U.S. debt and monetary problems.  I agree that the decline of the U.S. as a hegemon, the growing national deficit, and the budget crisis of the past decade are not solely due to the American global presence due to many domestic government policies, but the overexpansion does contribute to those economic areas and the capital utilized to rebuild western-friendly governments could be utilized domestically for a period of time in areas such as “infrastructure, education” (Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth, 2012, p. 24) and other vital areas, although with the corruption in Washington there is no guarantee that “resources freed up from global commitments would necessarily be diverted to uses more advantageous for long-term U.S. growth” (Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth , 2012, p. 27).  In 2012, “the Defense Department based planning cuts of just under $500 billion” (Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth , 2012, p.17) for the next half decade which will continue to result in the downsizing of military personnel and benefits for military members who put their lives in jeopardy while the private sector reaps massive profits of the racket of what is perceived in the media as a war on terror.  I do merit the argument against complete retrenchment due to the time and costs of having to redeploy American forces in the case of an actual threat to the United States, instead of the usual imperialism aimed at regime removal and rebuilding.

Turning toward the pro-deep entrenchment arguments of Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth, the first area on note presented is the fear that in the case of a scaled back U.S. entrenchment that other international states could not “manage regional multipolarity peacefully” (Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth , 2012, p. 35).  This argument is outdated and reeks of the Cold War model of thinking.  The majority of states on the international stage are locked into the IMF, World Bank, the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Rome Statute and many other international organizations based on economic interests under globalization.  In addition, the U.S. has a vast range of alliances in place to include “more than sixty countries that now account for some 80 percent of global military spending” (Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth , 2012, p.40).  The world is safe enough for the U.S. to concentrate on domestic strengthening.  The most rational point that Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth put forth supporting their argument pertained to the economic and institutional benefits and leverage that the U.S. often receives by remaining deeply entrenched (Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth , 2012, p.43), although there is no proof that the U.S. would lose international political clout due to moderate retrenchment.  I remain with the realist view of retrenchment, starting with complete withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq and following with a freeze on all military foreign aid for a substantial time period.


Brooks, Ikenberry and Wohlforth.  2012.  “Don’t Come Home, America: The Case against Retrenchment” International Security 37, no. 3 (Winter 2012/2013): 7-51.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Cuban Missle Crisis: Leadership Styles (and Causes) of October 1962


                For thirteen days in October of 1962, the world stood and watched as individual superpower leaders moved toward a political abyss that history books claim nearly resulted in nuclear destruction when U.S. intelligence planes recorded photos of Soviet nuclear missile technology in Cuba.  The intelligence revelation not only threatened to shift the bipolar balance of power between the United States and the Soviet Union, and on a larger scale between international capitalism and communism, it threatened military escalation between the two great nuclear powers of the Cold War period which, without solution, could have had irreversible ramifications to the entire globe.  In retrospect, a possible nuclear holocaust was not diverted by the efforts of multilateral international alliances nor was the possible conflict diverted by the domestic mechanisms within the state structure, neither Council of Ministers nor Congress.  Instead, the eyes of the world, from the young to old, were on three individual human leaders:  President John F. Kennedy of the United States, Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev, and Fidel Castro of Cuba.  The decisions and leadership styles of these individual men during the Cuban Missile Crisis, especially Kennedy and Khrushchev, would avert possible world nuclear disaster.

                The Cuban Missile Crisis culminated through a series of events that, as previously mentioned, began with the identification by U.S. intelligence of Soviet missile technology in Cuba.  The alarming revelation resulted in U.S. demands on the international stage for the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba and the implementation of a U.S. naval blockade of Cuba to prevent, as Kennedy claimed, the importation of further Soviet missiles, which Khrushchev declared would bring Soviet retaliation should any U.S. ship attack Soviet ships destined for Cuba.   The leadership styles utilized by the involved state leaders during the negotiations of October 26, 1962 brought the crisis to a peaceful resolution and it is important to analyze those leadership traits in the form of Khrushchev and Kennedy’s private and public letters of communication.

Foreign Policy Objectives

                During the period between the end of the Second World War and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the three state leaders involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis were heads of states with very different policy objectives and those objectives played heavily into leadership decisions and actions as the 1962 crisis bloomed.  The main Cold War foreign policy objective for the United States was the containment of communism, heavy efforts on limiting Soviet influence on the international stage, and the extension and protection of western international capitalism through the creation and utilization of NATO as a military containment mechanism.  The Soviet Union, on the other hand, “felt threatened by a rearmed Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), by the United States alliance system encircling the Soviet Union, and by the West's superior strategic and economic strength” (Zickel, 1989, p. 87), in addition to U.S. missiles in Turkey, and sought to improve Soviet negotiating power within the international balance of power.  While the policies of the two Cold War global powers are clearly political positioning on the balanced international stage, the Cuban state was an unstable state entity that had recently underwent an armed regime change with the forced exile of Fulgencio Batista and the rise of Fidel Castro as leader.  It must be noted that the Cuban Revolution was not communist based and that “organized labor, whose ranks were heavily influenced by the Communist Party (PS), opposed the July 26th Movement until almost the very end” (Prevost, 2012, p. 21).  The Bay of Pigs event in 1961 documents U.S. CIA operations providing “money, weapons and training” (Mooney, 2006, p. 18) to exiled opposition guerrilla fighters training in Central America with the goal of overthrowing Castro in favor of a more capitalist-friendly Cuban leader or the possible return of Batista.  Being under the rifle scopes of a neighboring superpower, it was only natural for Castro to seek closer economic and military relations to the Soviet Union, which would later result in the Soviet purchase of 2.7 million tons of sugar (Prevost, 2012, p. 14), to bolster and secure the longevity of his newly established regime and the state of Cuba.

Individual Leadership Styles

                In their theoretic discussion on the effects of individual leadership, Hermann and Preston offer four leadership styles that categorize how leaders react differently to political situations based on how leaders respond to constraints, openness to information, how the leader focuses on a political situation at hand and the political relationships surrounding the problem (2001, p. 95).  Fidel Castro, while certainly not a major player in the negotiation phase of October 26, 1962, is easily identifiable as a crusader-styled  leader due to his “political career engaged in trying to export the socialist revolution in Latin America” (Hermann and Preston, 2001, p. 96), but the actions of Khrushchev and Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis negotiations are more difficult to narrow down and would seem to fall between the categories of strategic and opportunistic, which stress openness to information, challenging constraints, and respecting constraints (Hermann and Preston, 2001, p. 96).          

                Both Khrushchev and Kennedy showed strategic and opportunistic leadership styles during the Cuban Missile Crisis build-up and negotiations, and the outcome of the crisis could have been much different had either of these leaders acted in another role such as the crusader or the pragmatist.  Both Khrushchev and Kennedy acted as strategic leaders during the build-up to the culminating negotiation by challenging constraints and remaining open to information, and later during negotiations assumed opportunistic leadership styles.  In the build-up period, Khrushchev challenged constraints by approving the Cuban request for missiles, since Soviet diplomatic relations had opened with Cuba after Castro’s successful revolution, while Kennedy had challenged constraints by allowing the CIA to train exiled fighters in order to return Fulgencio Batista, or a capitalist-friendly leader, back to power.  An argument can actually be made that the Cuban missile request to the Soviet Union was in response to the U.S. Bay of Pigs failure.  Both leaders, and their respective states, were incremental in using maneuverability and flexibility while engaging others, the Soviets with Castro’s government and the U.S. with Batista exiles, during the process.  During the same time window, both leaders were open to information from each other, as is evident by the letters dated over the thirteen days in October 1962, and the communication lines between the Soviet Union and the United States had been, and remained, open.  Khrushchev had even visited the United States while Eisenhower was in the White House, just a year prior to Kennedy’s election.

                Something interesting occurred as the situation acuminated toward possible military confrontation and escalation.  Both Khrushchev and Kennedy changed leadership styles to fit the opportunistic model.  Both leaders worked with and respected the constraints of the United Nations under newly posted Secretary-General of the UN, U Thant, and open communications between the two leaders drastically increased.  Both leaders became reactive in order to assess what gains were possible under the problematic situation, and both leaders became accommodative in the political relationship.  In the exchange of letters between Khrushchev and Kennedy, available on the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian website, Khrushchev hinted on U.S. missiles in Turkey and the protection of Cuba from possible U.S. invasion while Kennedy followed Khrushchev’s lead and made subtle promises to remove the naval blockade if the Soviet weapons in Cuba were destroyed under the auspices of the United Nations, while also quietly agreeing to remove U.S. Missiles from Turkey. 

                In closing, while the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis were clearly the result of Castro’s successful Cuban revolution and the failed U.S. attempt to overthrow the Castro government, along with the initiation of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the new Cuban government under Castro, it was the flexible individual leadership styles of Khrushchev and Kennedy that worked rationally to bring a peaceful resolution to the matter without international conflict or possible nuclear strikes.

Gary Prevost.  2012.  “Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution”  Headwaters: The Faculty Journal of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University 24 (4): 19-33.  Accessed on January 25, 2014.
Margaret Hermann and Thomas Preston. 2001. Who leads matters: the effects of powerful Individuals. International Studies Review 3, no. 2 (Summer): 83-132.
Matthew Mooney.  2006.  “On the Brink: From the Bay of Pigs to the Cuban Missile Crisis.”  California: University of California, 2006.  Accessed on January 25, 2014.
Raymond Zickel.   1991.  Soviet Union, a country study.  The Library of Congress, 1991.  Accessed on January 25, 2014.
U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian.  “Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume VI, Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges: Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges.”  Accessed January 25, 2014.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Spot Resoultions and the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858

Prior to Polk’s Presidential election, the annexation of Texas and the War with Mexico were already very heated issues between Democrats and Whigs.  The “Spotty Lincoln” nickname stemmed back to when Lincoln was an emerging young Illinois congressman under the Whig party, who questioned the Polk’s justification for war based on U.S. territorial claims over the “spot” where the first bloodshed started the U.S. war with Mexico.  The ‘spot’ question widened the political argument on whether Polk’s war with Mexico was actually a defensive war or a war of aggression, expansionism and imperialism [1].

In 1847, Representative Lincoln challenged “President Polk to submit evidence to Congress that the land on which the initial battle occurred was indeed American property” [2].  There were eight of these House inquiry resolutions put forth by Lincoln with the Whig party aim of faulting Polk and the Democrats for beginning an unjust war, and these resolutions are informally known as the Spot Resolutions.

In Lincoln’s speech before the House, on the twenty-second of December, 1847, questions such as whether the U.S. citizens, whose blood had been shed, as claimed by Polk in his messages of 1846-47, were armed officers and soldiers directed to the area or were regular U.S. tax paying citizens [3].  It was evident to Lincoln and the Whigs that the inhabitants of the disputed territory were not providing taxes to the U.S. prior to the war, and it was a strong political strike by the Lincoln and the Whigs.  In 1847, the Whigs took control of the House and were able to narrowly pass, 85-81, a vote to censure Polk on the grounds of starting the war with Mexico [4].

These political spot inquiries, which were venomous party politics aimed to shift power balances in the House and Senate, were fought over beginning of the Mexican War and disputed territory “between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande” [5].  Polk initiated a conflict over land acquisition and the Democrat party would take some damage for it during the late 1850s.

During the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 for “Illinois’s Senate seat” [6], Douglas pulled the patriot card on Lincoln with accusations that during Lincoln’s spot resolutions, Lincoln had actually sided with the common enemy against his own country during war.  Douglas referred to Lincoln as “Spotty Lincoln” and made jokes about spots of political platforms early on, but basically accused Lincoln of treasonous activity [7].  In response, Lincoln justified his position by stating that “his opposition to the initiation of the war had nothing to do with his willingness to support supplies for U.S. troops” [8].    

1. Mueller, Jean West and Wynell B. Schamel. 1988.  "Lincoln's Spot Resolutions." Social Education 52, 6 (October 1988): 455-457, 466. National Archives.  Accessed January 24, 2014.

2. Louis Fisher. 2009.  “The Mexican War and Lincoln’s Spot Resolutions.”  The Law Library of Congress, p. 1.  Accessed on Janruary 24, 2014.

3.  Abraham Lincoln.  1847.  Speech Before the United States House of Representatives 22 December 1847.  Public Domain.  Accessed on January 24, 2014.

4. Louis Fisher. 2009.  “The Mexican War and Lincoln’s ‘Spot Resolutions’.”  The Law Library of Congress, p. 5.  Accessed on Janruary 24, 2014.

5. Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 16.

6. Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 124.

7. Louis Fisher. 2009.  “The Mexican War and Lincoln’s ‘Spot Resolutions’.”  The Law Library of Congress, p. 8.  Accessed on Janruary 24, 2014.

8. Louis Fisher. 2009.  “The Mexican War and Lincoln’s ‘Spot Resolutions’.”  The Law Library of Congress, p. 8.  Accessed on Janruary 24, 2014.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Analysis on Knutsen's Multi-Layered Alliances/Katzenstein and Hammer's Multilateralism-Bilateralism

While I acknowledge the legitimacy of Katzenstein and Hammer’s analysis on multilateralism-bilateralism and Knutsen’s argument on multi-layered alliances, I view their positions to be focused on sub-causes for the establishment and expansion of multilateral, bilateral, or regional alliances while neither analysis focuses on global capital expansion, regional trade blocs, the GATT/World Trade Organization, or the Bretton Woods institutions.   The two arguments are also focus on different historical eras which reflect during phases in the growth of global capitalism and the subtle paradigm shift from states to private sector entities as main actors on the international stage.  With this being said, in order to properly answer the question, I prioritize Knutsen’s theory for multi-layered alliances that identifies “groups of allies with shifting priorities and agendas” (204) as more important to the excessive psychological theory of Katzenstein and Hammer pointing to links in cultural identities shared in the west as a cause for U.S. multilateralism in Europe and bilateral approaches in Asia (587).  Both theories are not only reconcilable; they are both smaller cogs in the machine of capital globalization.

Kutsen used the debauched decade-long NATO military occupation and regime rebuilding in Afghanistan to illustrate the various views toward the future of NATO, in relation to their state interests, by selected NATO state members involved in Afghanistan and their various levels of contributions.  Kutsen focuses of what these variations will mean for the future of NATO and how each state’s policies could impact that future.  The examples of Denmark’s “Atlanticism” (Kutsen, 209) and German suspicions of NATO becoming “a mere tool of US foreign policy” (Kutsen, 216) are defining examples of how state views and interests create multiple layers within the NATO alliance, as well as any alliance.  Yet, Kutsen analyzes a NATO after the completion of a global capital market instead of the stage analyzed by Katzenstein and Hammer which was balanced by western capitalism and eastern communism.  The World Bank and the private sector already have entry into Afghanistan thanks to the UN, ISAF and NATO (UNAMA, 2014), and if that state is ever stabilized the presence will increase drastically.  Interesting enough, German President Horst Kohler, before his resignation even “justified his country’s missions abroad with the need to protect economic interests” (Kutsen, 215). 

Katzenstein and Hammer’s theories on U.S. multilateralism in Europe and their analysis on the creation of regions are also legitimate even though the article is bloated with unneeded fluff, but the authors do not detail the Marshall Plan, the IMF, the World Bank, regional trade blocs, or the expansion of global capitalism or the GATT/WTO.  I agree with the authors that pre-existing economic ties between the U.S. and Europe, along with a shared cultural identity between the two entities, played a part in the U.S. establishing a multilateral NATO in Europe while dealing on a bilateral level with member states of SEATO, but the main emphasis coming out of World War II was the expansion of capitalist globalization.  The authors bring up the issue of U.S. multilateralism in Europe despite “Germany’s pariah status following World War II” (Katzenstein and Hammer, 581).  Global capitalism needed a healthy free-market Europe, and Europe needed Germany to be a healthy free-market Europe.  U.S. bilateralism in Asia where Asian states were “shedding their colonial status and gaining national sovereignty” (Katzenstain and Hammer, 584) correlated to global capitalism because the same European colonial masters were already under multilateral agreements with the capitalist U.S., and the first thing those previous master-states did was to bring those post-colonial possessions (now independent states) into the GATT/WTO and the global “free” market.  The capital exploitation which resulted in multilateralism in Europe and bilateralism in Asia is clear by simply looking at the original members of SEATO as “only two of SEATO’s members, Thailand and the Philippines, were geographically part of Southeast Asia” (Katzenstein and Hammer, 592) and three of those original member states were western capitalist powers.

Hemmer, Christopher and Katzenstein, Peter.  2002.  “Why is There No NATO in Asia? Collective Identity, Regionalism, and the Origins of Multilateralism” International Organization 56, no. 3 (2002): 575-603.

Knutsen, Bjorn. 2011.  Issues in EU and US Foreign Policy. Lexington Books, 2011: 202-232.

United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.  2014.  World Bank Grants 50 million for Poverty Reduction in Afghanistan.  United Nations, 12 January 2014.  Accessed January 23, 2014.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

19th Century U.S. Manifest Destiny, Annexation and Expansion, and Slavery in Congress

Since the arrival of Europeans in North America, the concept of manifest destiny has been utilized as a justification for imperialism and expansionism.  The concept itself has deep roots to the protestant branch of Christianity and, in its various waves, has heavily associated the creation and expansion of the United States as a destiny manifested by God with strong symbolic references to ancient biblical accounts of a chosen people and a promised land.  In the first half of the nineteenth century, the ideology of manifest destiny assumed political characteristics to justify the areas of westward expansion and the annexation of Texas from Mexico, and inadvertently illuminated sharp sectional North-South and Democrat-Whig divisions that would eventually cause the American Civil War.  As in any war, the root of the American civil conflict would be caused by divided sectional interests in capital, political power, and land.

In the years leading into the conflict of 1848 between Mexico and the United States, “many Americans and Southerners still believed that it was the United States’ Manifest Destiny to eventually rule the continent.” [1], an ideology that would be fed and exploited early in the expansion era by the Democrat party within Congress and at the election polls.  One of the strongest voices for American expansionism and manifest destiny within the Democrat party was John L. O’Sullivan, who wrote in 1838 that “the boundless future will be the era of American greatness. In its magnificent domain of space and time, the nation of many nations is destined to manifest to mankind the excellence of divine principles; to establish on earth the noblest temple ever dedicated to the worship of the Most High” [2].  While the Whig party and 1844 presidential hopeful Henry Clay had “forecast that annexation would inevitably produce a war with Mexico” [3] and “opposition to Texas’s immediate annexation became the standard Whig campaign theme” [4], James Polk and the Democrats entered the 1844 election “committed to immediate annexation” [5].  Within two years of Polk’s election to presidency, war with Mexico erupted over the U.S. annexation of Texas and by 1848 “Mexico was defeated, and the United States had fulfilled its destiny, becoming a nation that spanned the entire continent.” [6].

The first significant national polarization that occurred over the annexation of Texas and westward expansion was “the emergence of the nation’s first truly mass-based two-party political system, a development that would critically affect all subsequent debates over slavery extension” [7].  Again, even in the establishment of what would become the democrat party “behind Andrew Jackson’s presidential candidacy in 1928” [8], the growing polarization factor of American slavery could be observed as Martin Van Buren had written about reviving two-party competition that would “best neutralize ‘prejudices between free & slaveholding state” [9] and as a “complete antidote to sectional prejudices by producing counteracting feelings” [10].

The second significant increase in polarization was the deepening animosity between the southern slave states and the north which “foundered on the question of slavery’s future expansion into southwestern territories” [11] and beyond.  The addition of further slave or non-slave states and the incorporation of those states into the Union would ultimately shift the balance of power in electoral votes and congressional voting.  The clever two-party competition originally promoted by Van Buren could not permanently contain the sectional tensions between Northern and Southern economic interests, and this can be clearly seen by the alignment of Democrat and Whig states in 1844 compared to 1860.  In 1844, northern states such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan were Democrat states.  By 1960, a sharp regional division had occurred with southern states representing the democrat party, northern states representing the Republican Party, with Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri filling in a north-south buffer zone of unaffiliated party states.

In closing, the manifest destiny of U.S. western expansion and early imperialism was a temporary political dividing factor leading into the Civil War with much larger divided regional interests.  The root of the coming conflict was the expansion or non-expansion of American slavery and the national political power shifts that slavery may or may not have caused in that land expansion and creation of new states which would hold electoral votes.  Once U.S. expansion had been completed, the political lines shifted back to north-south interest lines that reflected the true origin of the conflict: capital interests behind the economic westward expansion with “widespread introduction of agricultural machinery” [12] from the capitalist-industrial north conflicting against the westward expansion of human slavery from the south.  After all, the new technological machinery of the industrial revolution had increased production levels while reducing the required amount of manual labor in favor of the capitalist-industrial north which pushed forward the political ideology of free labor (similar to the free market concept) as introduced by Northern Republicans as they “extolled the virtues of free labor” [13].


1.  Dunning, Mike.  2001.  "Manifest Destiny and the Trans-Mississippi South: Natural Laws and the Extension of Slavery into Mexico." Journal Of Popular Culture 35, no. 2: 111.

2.  James L. O’ Sullivan.  1839.  “The Great Nation of Futurity,” United States Democratic Review 6, no. 23 (1839): 427.

3.  Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 10.

4.  Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 10.

5.  Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 11.

6.  John Chiodo.  2000. "Teaching about Manifest Destiny: Clarifying the Concept." Social Studies 91, no. 5: 203.

7.  Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 7.

8.  Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 7.

9.  Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 7.

10.  Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 7.

11.  Michael Holt.  2004. “The Fate of their Country: Politicians, Slavery Extension, and the Coming of the Civil War” (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004), 4.

12.  Eric Foner.  1995.  “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men : The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War with a New Introductory Essay” (North Carolina: Oxford University Press, 1995), 72.

13.  Eric Foner.  1995.  “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men : The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War with a New Introductory Essay” (North Carolina: Oxford University Press, 1995), 34.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Crusader, The Strategist, The Pragmatist, and The Opportunist

When discussing world leaders and classifying their leadership styles based solely on their actions or reactions, it is somewhat faulty in my opinion to over-analysis these characteristics from a psychological level without considering exterior factors, especially capital influence on a parliamentary or representative democracy or international coalitions, from the United Nations to the IMF and World Bank, under capitalist globalization.  While capital and political influences certainly impact, and sometimes force, leadership decisions, there does appear to be some interesting observations in the leadership categories provided in the Hermann, Preston, Korany and Shaw article.  Based solely on the leadership descriptions presented, it seems clear that the two leadership styles most prone to establishing or forcing conflict would be the crusader and the strategist (Hermann, Preston, Korany & Shaw, 2001, p. 95).  While the crusader leadership style focuses on expansion and “persuading others to accept one’s message” (Hermann, Preston, Korany & Shaw, 2001, p. 95), I find Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be a crusader in his constant ideological push for strengthening the “one and only Jewish state” (Netanyahu, December 16, 2013) despite accusations of the ethnic cleansing of Bedouins through the Prawer Plan (Yiftachel, Amara & Kedar, 2014), the expansion of illegal settlements (Kershner, 2014), and consistent military incursions and aggressions into Palestinian territories.  Netanyahu, in crusader fashion, goes before the international community and the United Nations General Assembly attempting to portray Israel as a victim state on the defensive, while attempting to gather military support for international economic and military actions against Syria and Iran (Netanyahu, October 1, 2013).  Netanyahu’s leadership tactics could also be consider to display characteristics of the strategic leadership focus on achieving “agenda by engaging others in the process and persuading them to act” (Hermann, Preston, Korany & Shaw, 2001, p. 95).  Not only does Netanyahu keep pressure on American leaders to support Israeli interests through sanctions and possible regime removal in Iran and Syria, Netanyahu has close ties to pro-Israeli lobbyist organizations that extend influence on United States Congressional voting (Dvorin, 2013).  Another leader with strategic style Characteristics would appear to be Bashar Al-Assad of Syria.  In his recent attempts to hold the current Syrian regime in place, Assad showed a strategic leadership style of “maintaining one’s maneuverability and flexibility” by using heavy handed retaliation methods against (foreign funded) opposition forces while engaging Russia to intercede on Syria’s behalf in the United Nations.  Having the United Nations Security Council split on “Syria since 2011” (Charbonneau, 2013), Assad was able to avoid international constraints in dealing with opposition groups that Ghaddafi in Libya and Mubarak in Egypt were not able to avoid.

The two leadership styles likely to enhance cooperation would be the leadership styles of the pragmatist and the opportunist, although sadly these two leadership styles are also vulnerable to the influences of capital and/or military imperialism.  The qualities that support cooperation within pragmatist leadership identity is the directive focus for “working within the norms and rules of one’s position” (Hermann, Preston, Korany & Shaw, 2001, p. 95), while attempting to “uncover what will and will not work in a particular situation” (Hermann, Preston, Korany & Shaw, 2001, p. 97).  The opportunistic leader, while the label seems misleading, would also suggest enhanced cooperation with an accommodative focus for “reconciling differences and building consensus” (Hermann, Preston, Korany & Shaw, 2001, p. 97) and assessing the “current situation given the nature of the problem and considering what important constituencies will allow” (Hermann, Preston, Korany & Shaw, 2001, p. 95).  The problem with these two leadership styles is that cooperation is not necessarily a positive thing under globalization when it comes to imperialism or state regime removal.

The most important foreign policy issue currently facing the United States is actually originated domestically with the heavy influence of foreign lobbyist organizations on the U.S. Congress, which directly impacts military foreign aid amounts and international sanctions.  An example of this foreign lobby influence would be the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the most powerful lobbyist organizations in the United States, which influences U.S. foreign policy through securing congressional votes through campaign contributions and political support.  It is impossible to find an effective individual leadership style to address this problem of congressional manipulation because the problem itself is disenfranchised into 435 individual votes in the House of Representatives and 100 votes in the U.S. Senate.  In the case of a representative democracy, enough capital and political influence can almost always influence a majority of the votes regardless if it is on behalf of a foreign government or a private sector corporate entity, even if it is detrimental to the state.

Dvorin, Tova.  2013.  Israel to Lobby US Congress to Prevent Iran Deal.  Arutz Sheva Israeli National News, November 10, 2013.  Accessed January 9, 2014.

Hermann, Margaret, Thomas Preston, Baghat Korany and Timothy Shaw. 2001. Who leads matters: the effects of powerful individuals. International Studies Review 3, no. 2 (Summer): 83-132.

Isabel Kershner.  2014.  Settlement News to Wait Until Kerry Leaves Israel.  New York Times, January 1, 2014.  Accessed on January 9, 2014.

Netanyahu, Benjamin.  2013.  Full Text of Netanyahu’s Speech to the Union for Reform Judaism.  Times of Israel, December 16, 2013.  Accessed on January 9, 2014.

Netanyahu, Benjamin.  2013.  United Nations General Assembly Speech by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, October 1, 2013.  CSPAN Video Library.  Accessed January 9, 2014.

Oren Yiftachel, Amara, Ahmad, and Kedar, Sandy.  2014.  Israel Says Bedouin 'Trespass' on State Land. New study: Not so.  Haartz, January 9, 2014.  Accessed January 9, 2014.

Wachtel, Johnathan.  2014.  Russia again blocks anti-Assad resolution at UN, as Kerry heads for Syria summit.  Fox News, January 9, 2014.  Accessed January 9, 2014.