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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Happy Cinco de Mayo, and take that France.

Today is Cinco De Mayo. It may not be a big deal to you, but in Mexico it is a very august occasion.  It was the day the Mexican Army defeated the French forces at the battle of Puebla.  It was an unexpected victory, at the time the French were kickin' some serious butt all over the globe.  Under the rule of Napoleon III the French territory doubled in Asia, the Pacific and Africa.  Why is it always that way?  A country has a little success, and right away they want everything.

There are countless stories of the lives destroyed by gambling, and addictive behaviors.  But, it seems like the apple does not fall far from the national government. A little success leads to the overwhelming desire for more. And even if the odds are stacked against a gambler, or a government they have to roll the dice, one last shot. Humanity may be powerless to resist the call.

Sooner or later any real power worth it's salt is going to decide that expansion is the way to go.  It might be in pursuit of "more defensible borders," it might be "natural resources," there are only so many "reasons" but they all lead to the same place. Taking somebody else's stuff, by show of strength, or brute force. Somehow the Bill Parcells quote seems ideal, "Everytime something happens you always have an excuse, and they are always good excuses.  But, some day you have to ask why do these things keep happening." There always seems to be some perfectly good reason to send an army, or navy somewhere to take something, don't worry about the costs.

So it went with the French. After a costly and terrible civil war the Mexican government found itself unable to pay the debts owed to the European nations.  Spain and Britain negotiated a deal and went on their merry national way. France decided to expand their empire, in Mexico.  Hardly surprising considering all we know about people. It makes a person wonder how Britain and Spain were able to resist the urge.

And, at Puebla 6,000 French troops (from what was considered the premier army in the world) were defeated by 2,000 poorly trained, lightly armed Mexican militia men. It was a shock to everybody, particularly France, and Mexico.

But, it is a proud moment in the history of a proud nation. And we should all toast the occasion. I am going to use a little tequila, and maybe make some Mexican food for dinner. I grew up around immigrants from Mexico, and was proud to call them friend, they worked hard and sacrificed for their families, and carved a decent life in this country. In many ways they understood the American Dream much better than I.