War has always been used as a tool to achieve specific goals and empower a particular state. Politicians have used military conflicts or threats of intervention as the lever of pressure to protect a position and acquire benefits. However, war is the most horrible phenomenon in the civilized world as it leads to thousands of deaths, suffering, and devastation. For this reason, the decision to start a military conflict and send armies to die is associated with social and personal responsibility. A person who advocates war or creates the basis for the clash can be considered guilty in all consequences and outcomes. Thus, the Mexican-American War was one of the military conflicts that started because of the territorial claims of the USA, supported by President James Polk.
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A better understanding of the social and personal responsibility of all persons involved in this event can be acquired by understanding the background. Thus, the plans to expand the territory of the USA implied purchasing New Mexico and California from Mexico (Polk). It could guarantee further growth of the state and its becoming more powerful, which was one of the main ideas of the Pre-Civil War Era (“Overview of the Pre-Civil War Era”). However, the sale’s failure introduced another option, such as the military conflict and annexing the desired areas. For this reason, Polk focused on creating casus belli, or the cause for declaring war against Mexico, which could be used to avoid being called aggressors. As a result, the US troops were sent to Texas to provoke conflicts. After the death of six of them, Congress agreed with the President’s statement that Mexico was hostile and engaged in the conflict (Polk). It resulted in the achievement of goals outlined by the President and territorial expansion of the state.
In such a way, this war can be viewed as a contradictory issue regarding social responsibility. The term implies that any action should result in generating benefits for society. Thus, Mexican-American War helped the USA to acquire vast territories and expand its borders (“Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo”). Additionally, it contributed to the growth of the political prestige of the state and its becoming a more powerful actor at the international level. These could be viewed as the benefits resulting from this military conflict. However, the death of thousands of people from both sides, including civilians, shows that declaring war contributed to serious devastations and suffering, which contradicts ideas of social responsibility.
Regarding personal responsibility, James Polk was one of the central advocates of the war. In his letter to Congress, he stated
As war exists, and, notwithstanding all our efforts to avoid it, exists by the act of Mexico herself, we are called upon by every consideration of duty and patriotism to vindicate with decision the honor, the rights, and the interests of our country (Polk).
The lines show that he was sure that the given conflict was the only way to protect the USA’s prestige and increase its influence at the global level. He can be viewed as a person responsible for the declaration of war and its results. However, his belief in its necessity and positive outcomes helped him to avoid moral suffering.
Altogether, the declaration of any war implies the social and personal responsibility of people responsible for it. President Polk can be viewed as a person who supported the decision to start the Mexican-American conflict. Regarding social responsibility, it helped to acquire new territories but also resulted in numerous deaths. Thus, from the personal responsibility perspective, Polk can be considered the person who promoted the conflict, and he accepted his leading role in it.
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Polk, James. “Polk’s Message on War with Mexico.” DigitalHistory, 1846, Web.
“Overview of the Pre-Civil War Era.” DigitalHistory, Web.
“Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.” DigitalHistory, 1848, Web.