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Post Did Spain "Deserve" the War of 1898? From Gary Moore
Created by John Eipper on 05/05/15 4:54 PM

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Did Spain "Deserve" the War of 1898? From Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA, 05/05/15 4:54 pm)

Gary Moore writes:

My thanks to Anthony Candil on the Spanish-American War, for revising 200,000 in his earlier post about the reconcentration camps to "thousands"--which seems a better fix on the underlying judgment of history, which is roughly: "Who knows?"

But I still don't see how this means Spain was asking for it in the provocative casus belli sense. Sure, Spain shouldn't have been holding stubbornly onto Cuba, but they seemed to be bending over backward not to provoke the US. There is discussion (which I haven't verified for the underlying judgment) that the Maine showed up in Havana harbor unannounced and the Spanish were gracious anyway, while having begun other conciliatory measures. In this field (or harbor), "asking for it" tends impinge on the big mystery: How did the ship explode? The stubborn colonialism Anthony usefully describes would still not seem to put Spain that far over the edge.

New York Herald reporter George Rea wrote in detail about a large population segment in Havana interestingly called "laborantes" (common insurrectional Cuban Spanish, from Latin in a landmark magazine article), meaning they were civilians but were "working" for the insurrection, and sometimes going to tireless lengths. But surely they wouldn't have gone that far--would they?

JE comments:  Does this mean a false flag operation?  Certainly no party in Cuba had more to gain from the Maine's destruction than the insurrectionists.  But most conspiracy theories surrounding the sinking concern a deliberate action from the United States itself:


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  • Conspiracy Theories about the USS Maine; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 05/06/15 2:47 PM)

    Gary Moore follows up on his post of 5 May:

    In reply to John Eipper's interesting reference to the Wikipedia
    version of false flag theories on the sinking of the Maine before
    the Spanish American-War in 1898: Citing the Castro government
    on the Maine is like citing Ahmadinejad on 9/11: Get serious. The
    sedimentation of the present Cuban government atop the old Spanish-
    American War mysteries would seem to be a major factor that makes
    that field so blank, and so intriguing.

    And as to Wikipedia, I liked the
    image offered a while back that it's half-full/half-empty, though I would
    give it much more credit: maybe 90 percent full (useful) or more. But unfortunately,
    one narrow vein where Wikipedia tends to buckle has to do with credulous
    enthusiasms, especially on emotional issues like human rights atrocities
    (the 1890s Cuban death camps), and a related track, our old friend casus belli
    (like the Maine). Anybody can get in there and put their pet theory or advocacy
    position in Wikipedia, and when the issue is emotional enough, crusaders seem
    to mistake cluelessness for righteousness.

    Leaving aside the long Wikipedia
    reference to Castroite speculation, John has, again, very usefully steered us to
    a summary of all the various investigations of the Maine sinking over the years.
    Synopsis: Nobody really knows what blew it up, but sabotage is at least as credible
    a guess as a coal bunker fire--which was never more than a shrugging guess
    even from its most prominent advocate, Admiral Rickover. One thing that
    is shown by the various high-flown computer modelings, etc., is that the Maine
    mystery seems unlikely to be solved by flashy forensics. But will the opening
    of Cuba open a wealth of previously unconsidered archives/memoirs/clues
    leading to new insights from unexpected directions?

    JE comments:  Wikipedia does not suggest one far-fetched but not entirely implausible theory:  that the insurrectionists themselves destroyed the Maine to ensure US intervention in the conflict.

    Granted, conspiracy theories don't "work" unless they contain at least a grain of plausibility.

    "Crusaders seem to mistake cluelessness for righteousness":  I'm going to remember that turn of phrase.  It applies to countless scenarios.

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