Does anyone worry that the American Revolution and the Mexican-American War were grossly unjust wars of aggression initiated by Americans?

In the American Revolution of 1776-1781, the Americans were all British citizens who had a duty to honor and respect the British government. The British government was not enslaving or raping Americans (White Americans were doing that to Black Americans, but that is a different matter.) They were not carrying out genocide or running concentration camps. The British government simply imposed taxes that some of the people in the 13 colonies did not like. But today, we have taxes that some Americans do not like. There will always be taxes that lots of people will not like. Does taxation really ever justify shooting government soldiers in the head with a rifle–because that is what the American soldiers in the American Revolution did.

In the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, President Polk carried out a plan of his own making to obtain by force the Mexican states of Alta California and Nuevo Mexico. He had earlier tried to obtain those states by negotiation and payment, but the Mexican government refused to even meet with the emissary that President Polk sent to Mexico City to make a deal. The Mexican states of Alta California and Nuevo Mexico were larger than the current-day USA states of California and New Mexico. The Mexican states of Alta California and Nuevo Mexico contained, besides today’s California and New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. President Polk’s plan was to provoke a conflict over the dispute over southern border of Texas, and then to use that fighting in southern Texas (down by the Rio Grande) to justify an invasion and occupation of the the faraway Mexican-states of Alta California and Nuevo Mexico, and to also justify an invasion and occupation of all the major cities of Mexico. The US government refused to end its occupation of Mexico City until the Mexican government agreed to cede to the USA all the 2 Mexican states that President Polk had tried to buy from Mexico before the war. In the end, the US government got the 2 Mexican states and paid a few million dollars to the Mexican government. But since the deal was done “at gunpoint,” it was not a valid sale per all forms of law in all countries and in all times. Abraham Lincoln, was was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, publicly condemned President Polk for his dishonest and unjust actions and motives in starting the Mexican-American War. Later, Ulysses S. Grant, who was an officer in the Mexican-American War, condemned it as the most unjust thing he’d ever seen.

About 1/3 of the land in the lower 48 states of the USA was thus obtained by theft and murder. Or so it seems. The professional historians all seem to know this, yet few Americans seem to know this.

And I really never hear anyone asking if the American Revolution of 1776-1781 was perhaps, by Catholic just war standards, an unjust war.

In 2003, Blessed Pope John Paul II strongly condemned as unjust the planned and ultimately carried out 2003 USA and UK invasion and occupation of Iraq. Yet, it seems like virtually no one in the USA paid any attention to that.

It seems like we have been deceived. It seems like we pay no attention to what our Church teaches, and just listen to “patriotic” propaganda.

Pope Voices Opposition, His Strongest, to Iraq War
New York Times, January 14, 2003


VATICAN CITY, Jan. 13 — Pope John Paul II today expressed his strongest opposition yet to a potential war in Iraq, describing it as a “defeat for humanity” and urging world leaders to try to resolve disputes with Iraq through diplomatic means.

“No to war!” the pope said during his annual address to scores of diplomatic emissaries to the Vatican, an exhortation that referred in part to Iraq, a country he mentioned twice.

“War is not always inevitable,” he said. “It is always a defeat for humanity.”

Wondering aloud what to say “of the threat of a war which could strike the people of Iraq,” he added: “War cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option, and in accordance with very strict conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both during and after the military operations.”

The pope had previously articulated concerns about an American-led attack on Iraq, most notably on Christmas Day, when he beseeched people “to extinguish the ominous smoldering of a conflict which, with the joint efforts of all, can be avoided.” But in those instances, his message was largely implicit. He did not refer to Iraq by name, and his words were not as blunt.

Today’s remarks came as the United States continued a buildup of military forces in the Middle East, and they exemplified international leaders’ apprehensions and attempts at political and moral suasion.

The pope’s comments, delivered in French with the Vatican providing a translation into English, also recalled his opposition to the Persian Gulf war in 1991. His refusal to support that effort strained diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the United States at the time.

What the pope said today was not surprising; he has consistently decried a range of wars throughout his 24-year-long papacy, often without immediate or discernible effect on events.

But after the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, he said nations had a moral and legal right to defend themselves against terrorism. He did not condemn the bombing of Afghanistan, although he did say that such military actions must be aimed solely at people with “criminal culpability” and not whole groups of innocent civilians.

In speaking out about Iraq today, he echoed concerns raised around the world about the wisdom of a potential war with Iraq.

Wilfrid-Guy Licari, the Canadian ambassador to the Holy See, said the pope’s voice would stand out as an especially resonant one. “It is putting extra pressure, because he’s one of the only moral voices left in the world with credibility,” he said.

He added that the pope’s comments reflected the Vatican’s growing worry about, and preoccupation with, the situation in Iraq. In the last month, an increasing number of Vatican officials have raised questions about the morality, necessity and consequences of a war in Iraq.

R. James Nicholson, the American ambassador to the Holy See, also noted that the pope “speaks with a great deal of credibility and moral authority,” adding, “The United States listens.”

But he said he did not interpret the pope’s remarks as an indication that the Vatican and the United States stood apart on Iraq.

“If you examine carefully what the pope said, he said that war is not always inevitable, and we agree,” Mr. Nicholson said, adding that Saddam Hussein can prevent an attack on Iraq if he complies fully with weapons inspections and eliminates any weapons of mass destruction.

The present and future question before the Vatican, he said, was whether there was “sufficient provocation” for the United States to take military action against Iraq.

“The answer to that,” Mr. Nicholson acknowledged, “may remain something that we don’t agree on.”

The pope’s comments on Iraq were contained in a wide-ranging speech that traversed the globe, reflecting on signs of desperation and hope on various continents, and also touched on social issues.

John Paul made special note of a series of expulsions from Russia of Catholic priests, a point of keen discord between the Vatican and Moscow. He called the expulsions “a cause of great suffering for me,” adding, “The Holy See expects from the government authorities concrete decisions which will put an end to this crisis.”

He nodded to a series of recent scientific claims by mentioning human cloning, saying it, along with abortion and euthanasia, “risk reducing the human person to a mere object.”

Here’s a summary (which seems well supported by the facts) from Wikipedia:

In 2003 John Paul II also became a prominent critic of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. In his 2003 State of the World address the Pope declared his opposition to the invasion by stating, “No to war! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity.”[3] He sent former Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the United States Pío Cardinal Laghi to talk with American President George W. Bush to express opposition to the war. John Paul II said that it was up to the United Nations to solve the international conflict through diplomacy and that a unilateral aggression is a crime against peace and a violation of international law.

The American Revolution was not completely about taxes, per se. There were many factors involved, such as the treatment of American citizens by the British at the end of the French and Indian War (i.e., with contempt, when the Americans had gained a sense of national pride at the end of the war), the fact that the Americans had no representation in Parliament to debate these taxes, and the fact that the Americans had developed a sense of nationalism apart from Britain, and began to feel they weren’t really “British” citizens any more. Britain was actually exploiting the colonists, restricting their trade to Britain alone, and stopping them from growing to anything besides a “colonial” status. The British also prevented the colonists from expanding west of the Appalachian mountains (though they had good reason for doing so, the colonists did not like this, as they felt they had earned these lands during the war). The Revolutionary War was not necessarily unjust.

The Mexican-American War, on the other hand, was slightly more unjust. It was an imperialist expedition on the part of Polk to gain more lands for America; and like almost every war after this, the Americans sparked it indirectly. The whole thing began more over the independence of Texas, which admittedly America had nothing to do with directly. Texas, of it’s own volition, desired to be annexed into America, while Mexico wanted to retain it’s claim on it. Mexico was going to settles on it’s annexation, so long as Texas’ border was the Nueces River. The Texans didn’t want this, and demanded the Rio Grande for a border, which Mexico wasn’t having. Polk instigated the war by sending soldiers into disputed lands, which caused a skirmish, and thus the whole war. While Polk didn’t create all of the situations which led up to this war, he certainly capitalised upon the situation and used it to further his goals of Manifest Destiny.

I wanted to add that I mainly put in my two cents because we just finished the year in my History class, and all this information is fresh in my head.

Well, there was a fair bit more than taxes going on, if memory serves.

Besides which, if a colony (or the majority of it) wants independence it is only right that it be granted without undue resistance (particularly in the form of sending your military in!)

Britain learned its lesson, except perhaps in the case of India and Pakistan, and have not since resisted too vigorously when colonies have sought independence.


As to your earlier statements of “no one seeing the war in Iraq as unjust,” I think this is an unfair assessment. I and the majority of the people I know are opposed to that war, and were opposed to it, and many of the people I know are not even Catholic. Besides this, the nation is currently suffering from the lowest amount of patriotism that has ever existed in America. I do not believe patriotism would stop someone from condemning such a war.

The Mexican-American war was. But I don’t worry about it. I can’t change it.

I don’t worry about things I can’t change.


I don’t worry about either.

As human beings, we are limited by time, and are not morally responsible for things that happened before we were alive.

Don’t you all have better things to worry about? Like working off your Purgatory?


Work it, people!


Victorian fitness culture, anybody??

Does anyone worry that the American Revolution and the Mexican-American War were grossly unjust wars of aggression initiated by Americans?
Nope. Not a bit. My family was not even in the country when they happened.

Now what would be to point of worrying about it. It happened. Was it wrong? I wasn’t there. I don’t know and I certainly would not sign a petition to give this and back to Mexico or sign up to be part of England again.

I think it should also be pointed out that the American colonists absolutely did not want to go to war. It was beyond doubt a last resort, which satisfies another criteria for Just War Theory.

Ridiculous. Very nearly 3/3 of the land in the lower 48 states was obtained by theft and murder. The other 2/3 was grabbed from Native Americans who were killed of by European diseases, alcohol, trumped up wars and generally nearly exterminated.

And of course the Mexican government (preceded by the Spanish) got the land by conquering the Aztecs, who slaughtered those before them…

Basically, humans wherever you find them are pretty badly fallen and sinful creatures in desperate need of a Savior.

Good point.

It should also be pointed out that the myth of the Noble Savage is utterly fictional. Pre-Columbus Native American tribes were continuously at war as badly as the Europeans ever have been, seizing each other’s land and resources, raping and pillaging, you name it.

Humans are pretty weird creatures when you stop and think about it. As a kid, I used to read Genesis and Exodus and wonder what was WRONG with those people. Then I got older and realized that nothing much has really changed. I learned about how Aztecs offered human sacrifices - babies even! And I was horrified and gratified that such barbarism had been put to an end. This was not long after the USA made abortion a “constitutional right,” mind you. I was not old enough to appreciate the tragic irony.

Slavery, genocide, Nazis, communists, Islamists and Imperialists. Isn’t it amazing that we can learn so much historical trivia and learn NOTHING from it?

I worry more that someone will try to give back my land.

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