posted by Chris Bray @ 9:08 PM
I think you missed the mark this time. It appears that you're arguing a strawman. Farley never argued that "early Americans were skeptical of military institutions and hesitant to use armed force". Instead he argued that American forces were of a different scale than those of European powers without trying to tie that to some nebulous national trait. He did state that US armed forces were "comparatively minuscule" and I think he's correct. You note repeatedly that the US frequently used proxy forces as if it was a refutation of that point but I don't really think that those proxy forces were of a scale as to support your point. It would have taken about half a million irregulars under arms, several orders of magnitude larger than the real number, to give the US military forces proportional to population equivalent even to Spain.You also seemed a bit prickly at times and imply that others are arguing in bad faith. For example, you wrote, "Measuring from 1877 to 1893 is kind of a funny choice, though isn't it?" Not really. It's a pretty logical choice when the blog post is specifically on the topic of Chapter VII of From Colony to Superpower, which covers that precise period.Although there are those who overreach in claiming that Americans were simply opposed to a standing military, throughout this series of posts it appears to me that you've assumed that position applies to many people who simply haven't argued that point.
"You note repeatedly that the US frequently used proxy forces as if it was a refutation of that point but I don't really think that those proxy forces were of a scale as to support your point.I'm ill-equipped to make a scholarly argument on Bray's points, but I've tried to follow the logic and facts presented, as best I can.It seems to me that the size of the forces available for proxy use isn't as important as the use of those forces, vis- a vis a "national trait."Given that, my sense is that Bray has defended his position fairly well. The forces used as proxies in America were appropriate to the threat and thus, to me, parallels the use of same in Europe.I sense a pattern in all of this, over time, that seems to bolster Bray's argument.Perhaps I'm overreaching, but the use of Hmong Lao forces in Southeast Asia fits that pattern as well. Here we had the US denying we were "in Laos" while using indigenous forces there all the while.A colleague of mine was a spook with this group. http://www.ravens.org/history/history.htmPerhaps I'm not tracking Bray's point correctly, but this is my sense of the evolution of his premise.One Spook
"It's a pretty logical choice when the blog post is specifically on the topic of Chapter VII of From Colony to Superpower, which covers that precise period."Well, sure, and I laughed out loud at the point. But if you're looking at 1877-1893, the United States has just finished a massive application of consolidationist violence that crushed a challenge to national sovereignty, and preparing to use military force globally to acquire Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, and Cuba. Jack went on a massive shooting spree at two o'clock, and went on another massive shooting spree at four o'clock, but you can't say Jack is into violence, because he didn't shoot anyone at three.Also, there's all kinds of other consolidationist paramilitary violence going on during this period at other levels -- particularly in the west and the south, as with post-Reconstruction "rifle clubs" that restored the white supremacist order with de facto slavery (in the form of things like debt peonage).I see 1877 to 1893 as a violent lacuna in a still-more-violent era, with lots of organized violence at state and quasi-state levels. Others clearly see it very differently.And on that cheerful note, I'm off to the family holiday thing. Good to hear from you both, and Merry Christmas/Happy Hannukah/random assorted holiday greetings.
Have a good time showing off the cutest baby in the world.
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A blog written by increasingly few graduate students in the UCLA history program.
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