Columnists

Under That False Flag

With tens of thousands of soldiers poised to cross over the border into a fledgling independent nation –– a nation only a few years pulled from beneath the thumb of an imperial superpower –– the world anxiously awaited the outcome of military conflict that ultimately will change borders, and skew the balance of global power.

The ensuing war will pit a politically divided and militarily disorganized nation against an expansionist-minded administration, headed by a megalomaniacal president, who believes his nation has a right –– a “manifest destiny,” if you will –– to spread it’s borders across the continent.

In a distant capitol, the hawkish executive repeatedly squashes political enmity to what many of his critics are calling an “unjust war”. He does so successfully, because the opposition party is weak, and his sycophants have custody of policy-making power and the public message.

He rejects responsibility for the anticipated incursion. Troops will roll through the countryside un-der a “false flag” of peace-keeping. The leader asserts legitimacy for his invasion by blaming others, claiming that settlers from his homeland, who colonized the disputed lands, are now be-ing persecuted and threatened with physical harm from the host government.

The false flag is that of restoring order, while his opponents believe the real aim is annexation.

The fledgling defender is no match for the military and technological superiority of its northern neighbor, itself a relatively new republic. The giant superpower overwhelms its former vassal in a matter of months, after thousands of incursion forces crossed into the disputed territories known as … Texas.

That’s right. The scenario we see playing out in the world, today, is replicate of the Texas Revolution of 1835.

Colonists from the United States, many of them slave owners, settled into the Texas Territory in the early 1800’s, and quickly became resistant to the centralist government of Mexico, who had declared Mexico slave-free in 1830.

An armed uprising opposing the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna (Remember the Alamo?), resulted in the formation of the independent Republic of Texas. That rebellion led directly to a wider conflict — The Mexican-American War –– a decade later.

In 1835, the United States was the bully. President James K. Polk trusted in Manifest Destiny. He believed his nation had the heaven-sent right to expand to the Pacific Ocean. In 1845 the U.S. annexed the Republic of Texas, and war ensued.

When the dust settled, Mexico had lost about one-third of its territory, including nearly all of pre-sent-day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

I’m not going as far to say that today’s Russia-Ukraine War is some benign conflict on the world history timeline. Anytime a broad conflict with nuclear weapons is threatened, we must give it our utmost consternation.

I think I’m sharing this, because I want to help us all understand that history repeats itself, and that deciding who the righteous are may solely depend on which side of the border you live on.

That the Hollywood version of right and wrong is not as simple as seeing who is wearing the white hats. That outcomes we celebrate today do not nullify the undesirable acts of persecution of yesterday.

Understanding that roles now occupied by Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Valery Gerasi-mov, and Valerii Zaluzhnyi, are recurring roles, once played by the likes of Polk, Santa Anna, Zachary Taylor, Steven F. Austin, Ulysses S. Grant, Winfield Scott, and Robert E. Lee.

And that, when we scratch our heads wondering what the Sam Houston is wrong with the world, we find the willingness to recognize that seeking dominion over another is more innate in our human existence than we all wish to admit.

– John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.