Joseph J. Ellis, professor of history at Williams College, spots a trend.
When you study how the U.S. goes to war, there is a prevalent though not perfect pattern. The triggering event is often a sudden crisis that galvanizes popular opinion and becomes the immediate occasion for military intervention but subsequently is exposed as a misguided perception or outright fabrication.
The Mexican War began when President Polk cited an attack on American troops in Texas – troops he had deliberately placed there to provoke Mexico. The Spanish American War began when President McKinley claimed that the battleship Maine had been blown up by Spanish saboteurs; subsequent investigations showed that the explosion originated inside the ship, probably due to an accidental fire in the munitions compartment.
Read the rest to see how often this pattern has repeated.
The next time you hear the war drums beating, be very skeptical.