Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Monday, August 14, 2006

From Mexico To Lebanon

The Mexican Revolution was not one but a series of revolts spanning from 1910 to 1920. Francisco Madero led the first, overthrowing Porfirio Diaz in 1911 and assuming the presidency. Victoriano Huerta launched a successful counterrevolution in 1913, and set up a military dictatorship afterward.

The United States did not recognize Huerta's dictatorship. The Tampico Affair worsened relations, and intelligence of a German arms shipment to the Huerta regime precipitated Woodrow Wilson's order for the United States occupation of Veracruz in April of 1914. Meanwhile, Huerta was facing a counter-counterrevolution, which unseated him in July of that year. Its leader, Venustiano Carranza, became Mexico's new president. While the US recognized Carranza, the occupation forces did not leave Veracruz until November of that year.

Carranza sought to institute political reforms, but not in quantities deemed sufficient by his one-time allies Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. They revolted against the new government, driving Carranza out of Mexico City in 1915. The Zapatista movement dissipated in the wake of the 1919 assassination of its leader. Carranza stayed in power until 1920, when his own Minister of War and of the Navy, General Alvaro Obregon, sought the presidency for himself. Adolpho de la Huerta was made interim president; he negotiated a successful peace treaty with Villa, effectively ending the revolution. Elections were held, and Obregon was declared the winner.

During the revolution, Pancho Villa led a raid in US territory (see :

On March 9, 1916, Villa led 1,500 (disputed, one official US Army report stated "500 to 700") Mexican raiders in a cross-border attack against Columbus, New Mexico, in response to the U.S. government's official recognition of the Carranza regime. They attacked a detachment of the 13th US Cavalry, seized 100 horses and mules, burned the town, killed 10 soldiers and 8 of its residents, and took much ammunition and weaponry.

This triggered the failed Punitive Expedition, an 11-month hunt for Villa led by General John J. Pershing, who "complained to family that President Wilson had imposed too many restrictions, which made it impossible for him to fulfill his mission." Wikipedia does not tell us what those restrictions were.

Pancho Villa had committed an act of war against the United States. His men murdered American civilians and military personnel - who had not even participated in the Mexican Revolution. Our government could not let that act go unpunished, yet Pershing was not allowed to complete that task. Villa was eventually assassinated by his own countrymen in 1923, but that doesn't absolve the US of failing to bring him to justice.

The Mexican government was likewise obligated to assist the US in apprehending Villa while he was on Mexican soil. Civil war meant that Carranza was out to get Villa, anyway. Still, some sort of joint military operation could have been forged if Carranza and Woodrow Wilson had any imagination. His successors should not have forgotten the incident, and should have arranged for Villa's arrest and extradition.

Today, Israel is capitulating to something much worse than Pancho Villa. His crime (in America) was armed robbery and murder. Hezbollah's crime is something far different and far more dangerous: terrorist attacks against civilian targets. Hezbollah seeks to inspire the destruction of Israel, just as al-Qaeda seeks to inspire the destruction of Western civilization. Israel tried a ceasefire with Hezbollah once in 2000, and it lasted only six years; people are dead today because of that truce. Hezbollah must be brought to justice; it must be completely destroyed. Islamic terrorists have always used ceasefires to rearm. If Israel doesn't finish off Hezbollah, Hezbollah will kill innocent civilians again.

The Lebanese government cannot be a neutral party. If it tolerates the existence of Hezbollah on its soil, it sides with Hezbollah and its murder of Israeli civilians - not to mention its past attacks against United States citizens. Lebanon's government must go. This could be accomplished at the polls, if enough Lebanese voters figure out that, at the very least, Hezbollah's presence hinders their own prospects for long-term peace.

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