Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hey Sailor... want to picnic?

June 18, 2008 - There are wars at home, and wars at work. Fortunately, there have not been wars on Canadian soil - well, none but one... the War of 1812. It was on June 18th that the US declared war on the UK in retaliation for taking their ships during the Napoleonic Wars. Nice trade. The Brits got a few ships (and sailors), and they tried to take Canada. It didn't start well for the Americans. In fact, right off the bat (baton?), the Brits captured Detroit, borrowed many American Indians to pad their troop numbers and burned down the White House in the "Burning of Washington".1. Ultimately, the War of 1812 united Canada. For the Americans, they managed to defend New Orleans and made Andrew Jackson a hero for it. He was elected president in 1829.

There are historians who have purported that the war was really an attempt to conquer Canada and spread some good ol' Americanism across the continent. It is also suggested that it may also have been a war meant to strengthen the US's position in negotiations with the UK over trade. They didn't succeed. History is supposed to teach us something. I realise that we may have been using cannon balls and fire bombs, but it was as technological a war as we could fight then. May history never repeat itself. Imagine a war being fought with today's technology. Imagine if another country tried to capture or harm a US war ship in modern times. Imagine if there was an effort to spread Western (US) style democracy in another's country. Imagine if there was being fought today that was being fought to improve negotiation positions for trade?

Thank god history doesn't repeat herself. Imagine the panic we might feel if we knew that nations were unhappy with other nations and willing to fight to the death. Panic. There are ought to be a bigger word for the sort of pervasive, low-grade, global panic we are feeling today. We panic about wars and fighting and 'jihads' and religious freedoms. We panic about carbon dioxide, and ozone, and pesticides, and computer viruses. But what the hell, it's Panic Day after all. Today, go ahead and panic. And if you feel some of that low-grade invasive nausea today, take two martinis, a round of brie and chocolate to the park and sit on a blanket. Today is also Picnic Day and National Splurge Day. Perhaps picnics and panic can coexist. Or maybe picknicking and splurging is an antidote for the panic.

Maybe our world leaders should splurge on a few history books. Ultimately, history appears to be a wonderful tool for understanding the future. If you seize a few ships and give the enslaved a place to run to and live free, you might just be pissing someone off. The moral of the story? If you want to borrow and not return Seamen, you had better be prepared for more than a picnic on the beach.

1. War of 1812 was more involved I'm sure... I take a bit of creative license.

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