Wednesday 25 June 2014

federales or blazing saddles

The first mechanised incursion of the United States of America into battle, with motor vehicles, aircraft and even the first incidence of intelligence gathering in the form of wire-tapping and radio interception—in the name of national security, occurred in 1916 with the so-called Punitive Expedition against Mexican revolutionary leader Pancho Villa.  After the exile of the monarchy, a dictatorial government took hold of Mexico, which supported the lingering high level of gentrification among peasants and wealthy estate-holders for some thirty years.  The Villistas sought to break-up the Hacienda-System, and enjoyed the materiel support of the US government for these raids—the intent being to install a friendly and democratic government.  Once that objective was met, however, the support of the US withered and publicly backed the less radical faction of the Revolutionaries, who did not share the vision of Pancho Villa of social equality nor his violent tactics (with a lot of horse-robbery), as more politically palatable.
The casus belli that followed is of course debatable, but America mobilised some 5000 troops to hunt down Villa and his com- patriots—dead or alive, after Villa reputedly pillaged a border town in New Mexico, killing dozens of US citizens.  If Villa personally directed this attack, it was due—or exacerbated at least, to the munition supplier there either demanding payment in gold, though they had already paid thousands in US dollars and/or delivery of defective merchandise. As the chase was being prosecuted under the leadership of General John Pershing—curiously with the help of mercenaries from China that comprised more than ten percent of the fighting force at a point in US history where immigration for persons of an Asian background was banned completely, which were rewarded after the mission with citizenship, provided they work in army mess halls—several other border towns came forward, claiming to be victimised by Villistas though these other incursions into US territory were later disproven. The hunt continued for months but the wanted individual evaded capture, and the adventure was eventually called off due to the US entrance in World War I. Officially, the mission was declared a success, since no other US towns were terrorised, but privately Pershing held that it was a shameful failure and a dangerous precedent for American chest-pounding, despite the logistical baptism of modern warfare.