Sometimes the present and one-century-ago align themselves thematically with perfect precision, and sometimes they annoy me by being just slightly off. This is one of those times.
In honor of John Kerry’s repeated statements yesterday against Russia’s “trumped-up excuses” in “behaving in a 19th-century fashion” in Crimea, I bring you an early preview of my post scheduled for April 15, covering the start of the US occupation of Vera Cruz on that date in 1914:
In response to the Mexican Federal regime’s refusal to fire a 21-gun salute to the US flag, as ordered by Adm. Mayo, to apologize for the insult of having briefly detained some American sailors who were wandering around a war zone in uniform, Pres. Wilson is sending the entire North Atlantic fleet to Tampico. Or, to put it another way, Admiral Badger is being sent to back up Admiral Mayo.
Any wariness in Congress about military intervention has evaporated: “No Senator questioned the right of the United States to occupy Tampico or Vera Cruz as a step to enforce respect for the uniform, and all agreed that a firm course must be followed from now on. Many Senators of long experience and conservative judgment expressed the view that the ordering of the fleet to Tampico meant armed intervention, but this belief did not seem to lessen their satisfaction. ... There was little inclination to comment on the fact that stronger measures seemed to be in contemplation to enforce a matter of etiquette than were adopted as a result of the murdering of American and foreign residents in Mexico.” Sen. Chilton (D-West Virginia): “I’d make them salute the flag if we had to blow up the whole place.”