FrancoMexican War

The Franco-Mexican War was a war fought by two very
different countries then they are today. The war was fought
over reasons that seem very unlikely to arise ever again
between these two countries. The war was fought over
gaining territory, group thinking, and just pure human
Nature. These are very unlikely to be present between
Humans are said to be naturally aggressive. From the
time of Adam and Eve humans have always been looking out to
gain power. Humans as well as animals have a natural
aggressive and also territorial instinct. This is a
Emperor Napoleon III was a very power hungry leader.
Like his uncle, Napoleon I, Napoleon III wanted to gain as
much power as he could. When he realized that there was an
opportunity to seize more land Napoleon III took it. He
realized that Mexico had just finished a civil war and their
government was weak. His aggressive instinct caused
Napoleon to seize the moment. This war was mostly motivated
because of Napoleon III’s aggressive nature. He wanted to
become like his uncle and he took advantage of it. Napoleon
III was known to be a very aggressive and power hungry man.
Like his uncle he was very aggressive militarily and tried
to gain as much power and land as possible.(Meyer & Sherman)
These aggressive actions have toned down a great deal
not only between France and Mexico but with all countries in
the world today. There are countries that allow their
aggressive tendencies to get the best of them. All in all
though humans have evolved in understanding that acting on
our aggressive tendencies is not always the best thing to do
in situations that involve possible war.
Another reason for the war to start is territory. In
order for Napoleon III to gain power he needs land. The
theory behind conflict starting over territory is stated as
such; Explicit Contention over territory, official
government representation, and claims of a specific
territory must all be met, in order for a conflict to exist.

Napoleon went to Mexico in order to gain back some of
the money lent to the Mexican Army. When he his legion/army
arrived in Mexico his intentions changed immediately. He
wanted not only to gain power but also to place his own
appointed leader into the thrown. Napoleon III ordered his
army to take over Mexico and claim it for France.(Meyer &
This was the start of a territorial conflict. Napoleon
III had explicit contention over Mexico, he had sent over
official government representation, and claimed Mexico and
only Mexico specifically. When these all were in place the
first battle broke out and war was officially declared
against the French by the Mexicans. As the battles were
being fought France and Napoleon III the third was not only
gaining more power but also more land.(Hensel)
This has changed throughout the years. After France
ended up losing Mexico after it was won they never tried to
regain that territory . Conflict over territory is a very
common source for wars and conflict in general to break out.
As far as France and Mexico are concerned I feel that it is
not going to happen in such away again, they have totally
different agendas then they had in the late 1800’s as well
as different types of leaders, France especially.

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Now to the subject of the group thinking, Napoleon III
was able to get his men behind him. He was able to make his
legion believe that they were doing the right thing. His
men had great respect for him as well as for each other,
this is a key point when it comes from looking at the Group
think theory by Irving Janis. When you have a group like
the French under Napoleon III you can see that they are a
very cohesive group, very close knit, they also have great
loyalty to their country and a sense of belonging. When you
have all of these things within a group you can almost make
them do anything. Napoleon was able to rally these men up
get them to believe in what they were doing. This is the
theory behind group think. (Hensel)
When Napoleon III sent his men to Mexico they had one
goal in common to take over the government and the country.
Even though the French lost a huge amount of men in Mexico
due to disease they would not give up.
There consequences with this approach for starting a
war. People reach a quick consensus. This means that no
one is able to think about what the outcome maybe for this
war. Napoleon was thinking about how he was going to
maintain a great deal of power in a country over five
thousand miles away. This will also not allow controversial
questions to arise about what or why exactly they are
starting the conflict. Most importantly it leads to bad
decisions.(Hensel; Meyer & Sherman)
Napoleon learned this the hard way. He took action so
fast that he was unaware of the consequences he would face.
Not only did Napoleon III lose a great deal of men not only
from disease but also from the war itself. He also over
looked how the people of Mexico would feel toward the new
government that would be put in place by France.
Ferdinand Maximillian was appointed emperor after
Napoleon III’s legion/army invaded and conquered Mexico. If
France and Napoleon were not so caught up in rallying their
troops and storming in to Mexico for a quick gain of land
they would have known that putting a monarchy in a country
so close to the United States would not fly well. After
only a few months in power, and with few supporters
Maximilian was kicked out of power and killed. (Meyer &
The times have changed though. That was then this is
now. There is a lot less group think around today than
there were back in the 1800’s. Wars are a thought out
process more so today. Countries and government look more
to the future consequences of going to war. War can damage
a country a lot more today due to the complex economies, and
When understanding conflict and how it is started and
how it is ended it is easy to assume that these two
adversaries will most likely never have conflict again.
There are many reasons that are relevant in understanding
why France and Mexico are unlikely adversaries.
Mexico and France are both allies with the United
States. If a situation ever arose the U.S. would squash it
immediately. Another reason for there never to be conflict
between France and Mexico is there aren’t any reasons for
conflict. In the late 1800’s with Napoleon III, France as a
whole had and aggressive power hungry attitude. This is not
the case today. France is a more laid back country then
they were now. They see Mexico as a country that they have
no interest in. As seen through out history controlling
territory that is not close to your homeland is next to
Invading lands just to gain more power and prestige is
unacceptable in world view. If France or any other country
would invade another country just to gain territory and
power that country would lose a few allies and gain a few
enemies. Mexico doesn’t have anything that France
desperately needs at this time. Both countries are content
in their situation as we speak and there for will not have
another uproar such as the Franco-Mexican war ever again.

So as might already know my projection for these two
countries to become enemies and then even institute a
conflict between one another is very unlikely. I project in
the next decade these two countries will not become enemies
again but become closer to each other. The world, I feel,
is becoming more and more socialistic. When all the
countries as a whole come up with a form a socialism that
works for everyone it will no longer be countries but
Michael C. Meyer and William L Sherman. The Course of Mexican History. New
York, 1983. Oxford University Press.

Paul Hensel, Ph.D. Class Notes. Fall semester 2000. INR 4083


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