History Buzz November 27, 2011: Eliot Cohen: Canada won the War of 1812, U.S. historian admits

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

HISTORY NEWS — 1812 BICENTENNIAL

Source: National Post, 11-27-11

Geoff Robins/Postmedia News

Geoff Robins/Postmedia News

A War of 1812 re-enactment at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London, Ontario. Which side won the war has been long disputed.

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.”…READ MORE

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