SPANISH AMERICAN WARProfessional public relations campaigns may have come into their own with World War I, but war propaganda was not invented in the 20th century. In 1898 the USS Maine blew up in Havana Harbor, and U.S. newspapers quickly blamed the Spanish, crying out "Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!" Newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst did his best to fan the flames of a war he knew would boost circulation. Who actually blew the ship up? Nobody knew. Certainly Spain denied it, Cuba denied it, and the United States denied it. Spain didn't just casually deny it either. Spain conducted an investigation and found that the explosion had been inside the ship. Realizing that the United States would reject this finding, Spain proposed a joint investigation by both countries and offered to submit to binding arbitration by an impartial international panel. The United States wasn't interested. Whatever caused the explosion, Washington wanted war.
More recent investigations raise the distinct possibility that the Maine was indeed sunk by an explosion, whether accidental or intentional, that occurred within it, rather than by a mine outside it. But no experts have proven one theory over another to the satisfaction of all. The Spanish could have found a way to plant a bomb inside the ship. Americans could have found a way to place a mine outside it. Knowing where the explosion took place won't tell us who, if anyone, caused it. But even if we knew for certain who caused it, how, and why, none of that information would change the basic account of what happened in 1898. The nation went mad for war in response to an attack by Spain for which there was no evidence, merely conjecture. This alleged atrocity -- the sinking of the Maine -- was used to launch a war "in defense of" Cuba and the Philippines that involved attacking and occupying Cuba and the Philippines, and Puerto
Rico for good measure.
|Liveleak on Facebook|