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Old February 22nd, 2012, 09:18 PM   #1
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Canada won the War of 1812, U.S. historian admits


In a relatively rare admission for an American scholar, a leading U.S. historian who authored a provocative new tome about North American military conflicts states bluntly that Canada won the War of 1812.
Johns Hopkins University professor Eliot Cohen, a senior adviser to former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, writes in his just-published book Conquered Into Liberty that, “ultimately, Canada and Canadians won the War of 1812.”
And Cohen acknowledges that, “Americans at the time, and, by and large, since, did not see matters that way.”

The book also echoes a key message trumpeted by the federal Conservative government in recent weeks as it unveiled ambitious plans to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 over the next three years: that the successful fight by British, English- and French-Canadian and First Nations allies to resist would-be American conquerors — at battles such as Queenston Heights in Upper Canada and Chateauguay in Lower Canada — set the stage for the creation of a unified and independent Canada a half-century later.
“If the conquest of (Canada) had not been an American objective when the war began, it surely had become such shortly after it opened,” Cohen argues in the book. “Not only did the colony remain intact: It had acquired heroes, British and French, and a narrative of plucky defense against foreign invasion, that helped carry it to nationhood.”
In an interview with Postmedia News, Cohen observed that, “all countries have to have these myths — not in the sense of falsehoods, but really compelling stories that are, in fact, rooted in some kind of truth, even if they’re not the complete truth.
“And the War of 1812 gives Canada that,” he continued. “It gives you some foundation myths. It gives you Laura Secord. It gives you heroes.”
Cohen, who advised the Bush Administration on geopolitical strategy from 2007 to 2009, said the War of 1812 “was the last point at which the United States thought really seriously about trying to take Canada by force of arms.”
It’s clear, he added, that “there were a lot of senior American leaders who thought the outcome of the war would be the forcible annexation of Canada — thinking, not entirely without reason, that there would be some segment of the (Canadian) population that would welcome that.”
There were, in fact, deep roots for such thinking in the U.S. Rebel forces during the American War of Independence had launched a northward invasion — ultimately unsuccessful — nearly four decades before the War of 1812.
In 1775, a rebel pamphlet distributed among Canadians in present-day Quebec warned that they would be “conquered into liberty” by the invading revolutionaries from the South, an oxymoronic appeal to join in the revolt against British rule, and which Cohen captured in the title of his book as a sentiment which still echoes in contemporary U.S. foreign policy.
Subtitled “Two Centuries of Battles Along the Great Warpath that Made the American Way of War,” the 400-page survey of North American history from 1690 to 1871 contends that the national mindsets of the U.S. and Canada were profoundly and enduringly shaped by struggles over the land and water routes between Montreal and New York City, principally Lake Champlain, Lake George and the Hudson River.
And while Cohen’s book highlights the fact that the U.S. won the principal War of 1812 clash in that crucial corridor — the Battle of Plattsburgh in September 1814 — he concludes that “the nominal causes for which (the Americans) had fought the war had advanced not an iota” by the time a peace treaty had been signed and hostilities ended in early 1815.
U.S. forces “had failed in their objective of conquering Canada,” Cohen writes. “They had suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of numerically inferior enemies; the Royal Navy had driven American commerce from the seas; and American national finance had suffered severely.”
But like Canada, which emerged victorious from the War of 1812 and more aware of itself as a potential nation, the U.S. salvaged a solid — even strengthened — sense of national identity, Cohen argues.
“Some of this has to do with myth, understood as powerful stories that frame a deeper conception of one’s history,” he writes. “They clung to the victorious naval duels of the USS Constitution, the ‘bombs bursting in air’ over Fort McHenry, the fleet action on Lake Erie, the Battle of New Orleans … and — very much — Plattsburgh.”
Even as late as the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s, Cohen said in the interview, a “substantial body of opinion” persisted among American political leaders “that sooner or later, Canadians will decide that they want to join the United States.”
But, added Cohen, even the most ardent annexationists in the U.S. had come to believe by then that the absorption of the Canadian colonies by the United States would only happen “on the initiative of Canadians.”


Canada won the War of 1812, U.S. historian admits | News | National Post
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 11:01 PM   #2

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Sounds like Mr. Cohen has a book to hawk and the best way to get noticed,
is to go into 'shock' mode.
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 11:18 PM   #3

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Originally Posted by tjadams View Post
Sounds like Mr. Cohen has a book to hawk and the best way to get noticed,
is to go into 'shock' mode.
So you would disagree with him?
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 11:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by tjadams View Post
Sounds like Mr. Cohen has a book to hawk and the best way to get noticed,
is to go into 'shock' mode.
Surely not, Mr Adams??
I am shocked that anyone should suspect such a mercenary motive!

However - he does have a point.
I do not think anybody 'Won' the war, as such, but Canada probably benefitted the most, in the sense of unity that it helped to foster.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 02:49 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjadams View Post
Sounds like Mr. Cohen has a book to hawk and the best way to get noticed,
is to go into 'shock' mode.
My thoughts exactly.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 02:53 AM   #6

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So you would disagree with him?
I would. I've never seen any evidence that annexation of Canada was the American objective of the War of 1812. I'm sure it was a "by-product" in the thinking of some Americans, but I've never seen any evidence that it was a significant number.

I'd be interested to hear some of Mr. Cohen's evidence, but not interested enough to oblige him by buying his revisionist book.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 02:54 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by Giraffe View Post
I do not think anybody 'Won' the war, as such, but Canada probably benefitted the most, in the sense of unity that it helped to foster.
I agree with that....
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 03:01 AM   #8

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Wikipedia has an interesting article on Mr. Cohen: Eliot A. Cohen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I'd hardly call him a "leading U.S. historian". Here's an interesting excerpt:

Quote:
Later in 2001, Cohen, in what was becoming a dominant theme of his writing, advocated war against Iraq once again and proceeded to outline how effortless such a military campaign would be:
After Afghanistan, what? Iraq is the big prize... One important element will be the use of the Iraqi National Congress to help foster the collapse of the regime, and to provide a replacement for it. The INC, which has received bad, and in some cases malicious treatment, from the State Department and intelligence community over the years, may not be able to do the job with U.S. air support alone.[8]
As a result of his public statements on why a war against Iraq was necessary, Cohen was invited to appear on CNN Wolf Blitzer Reports and amongst other statements given in response to questioning from Blitzer offered the judgement:
We know that he [Saddam Hussein] supports terror. There's very solid evidence that the Iraqis were behind an attempt to assassinate President Bush's father. And we -- by the way, we do know that there is a connection with the 9/11 terrorists. We do know that Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 terrorists, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague. So...
[9]
Hmmm. So much for historical insight...
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 03:42 AM   #9

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Originally Posted by Corto Maltese View Post
In a relatively rare admission for an American scholar, a leading U.S. historian who authored a provocative new tome about North American military conflicts states bluntly that Canada won the War of 1812.
Its not provocative in the least.
Donald R Hickey, probably the most well known of the modern day American historians of this period, has also stated that Canada was the main winner of The War Of 1812, and that this war was the first war the USA lost.

Even the Office Of The Chief Of Military History, United States Army, admits the following.
Quote:
"The news of the peace settlement followed so closely on Jackson's triumph in New Orleans that the war as a whole was popularly regarded in the United States as a great victory. Yet at best it was a draw. American strategy had centered on the conquest of Canada and the harassment of British shipping; but the land campaign failed, and during most of the war the Navy was bottled up behind a tight British blockade of the North American coast.
source Chapter 6: The War of 1812
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 03:47 AM   #10

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I would. I've never seen any evidence that annexation of Canada was the American objective of the War of 1812..
It was one of the conditions that the US negotiators at Ghent were told to demand from the British.
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