After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, it addressed the problem of its northern region. The sparsely-settled area was subject to harassment from Comanche, Navajo and Apache tribes who felt they had some right to the land just because they were there first. Mexico thought attracting settlers from the United States might help. They tempted Americans with promises of cheap land grants, if the new settlers became Mexican citizens, spoke Spanish and converted to Catholicism.
Immigrants from the U.S. poured into the Mexican province of Tejas. Most came from slave states. By the early 1830s, the 5,000 Mexicans in the province were overwhelmed by the 20,000 settlers and their 5,000 slaves.
The Mexican government tried to slow the immigration by outlawing slavery. The new Texans wouldn’t have that. With the support of the United States government, they began their fight for independence in 1835. The U.S. recognized the Republic of Texas in 1837. Mexico threaten war, but did not follow through.
Mexico recognized the border with the U.S. at the Nueces River. The U.S. said the Rio Grande was the border. President James Polk, an advocate of Manifest Destiny — that God’s plan was for the United States to stretch from sea to shining sea — offered Mexico $30 million for the disputed territory and New Mexico and California. Mexico declined. Polk dispatched 4,000 troops across the Nueces River to take up position along the Rio Grande. Meanwhile, Texas was admitted as the twenty-eighth state on December 2, 1845.
Mexico took exception to U.S. troops on what they had declared was their soil. Eventually, word reached Polk that shots had been fired. He appeared before Congress on May 11, 1846 and and declared that Mexico had invaded the United States and had “shed American blood on American soil!” He demanded a declaration of war against Mexico. Congress overwhelmingly acceded.
Before there was a U2 rock band, there was the infamous U-2 incident. The U-2 was a spy plane carrying a crew of one and state-of-the-art photography equipment. The CIA boasted it could take high-resolution pictures of headlines in Russian newspapers as it flew overhead at 70,000 feet.
A U-2 plane disappeared somewhere over Russia on May 1, 1960. The CIA told President Dwight Eisenhower not to worry; even if shot down, the aircraft had self-destruct capabilities that would render its wreckage unrecognizable. The pilot had instructions to kill himself. The official story was that a weather-observation plane had veered off course and may have crashed somewhere in Russia.
Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev gleefully produced at the mostly intact U-2 and its very much alive pilot Francis Gary Powers. Eisenhower was forced to admit that yes, it was a spy plane.
Two weeks later, Eisenhower was in Paris for a “Summit” meeting with leaders from France, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. At the top of the agenda was nuclear arms control.
Khrushchev began the meeting with a tirade against the U. S. and Eisenhower before he stormed out. The summit meeting was over before it began.
The pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was exchanged for a captured Soviet spy in 1962. Eisenhower said the “stupid U-2 mess” was one of the worst events of his presidency.
North Korean patrol boats confronted the USS Pueblo, while it was doing allegedly routine surveillance off the Korean coast on on January 23, 1968. The lightly-armed U.S. ship was no match for the North Korean attackers. Its crew was able to destroy classified information while under fire. The Pueblo’s commander and several crew members were injured before being captured.
The U.S. asserted the Pueblo was in international waters and demanded release of the sip and crew. The imprisoned crew members resisted signing confessions. They famously sat for propaganda photos with middle fingers extended and suffered beatings and sleep deprivation when the North Koreans learned that was not a “Hawaiian good-luck sign.”
Eleven months after capture, U.S. and North Korea reached a settlement. Oops… the Pueblo actually was in North Korean waters. The U.S. apologized and promised to not spy on North Korea any more. The eighty-two crewmen were released.
Iran fired a surface-to-air missile hitting a U.S. Global Hawk drone spy aircraft over the Strait of Hormuz. The current occupant of the White House tweeted: “Iran made a very big mistake!” He also remarked that the drone cost taxpayers $180 million.
The U.S. is adamant that it was an unprovoked attack against an aircraft flying over international waters. Iran is just as adamant that the drone was clearly in Iranian airspace.
And so it goes.