U / CHRONICLESnAmerican and British holdings in the Oregon country).nMoreover, French mihtary observers were telHng the Mexicansnthat they could win an easy victory over the UnitednStates. In 1846 Mexico had a regular army of 27,000 men,nwhile the American army numbered 7,200. Moreover, thenMexicans were armed with more modern weapons and werenbetter trained. The United States would have to fight withnvolunteers, and, reasoned the French observers, in anyncontest between regulars and volunteers the regulars wouldnprevail. Also, for the United States to win, its army wouldnhave to invade Mexico across broad deserts where problemsnof supply alone would defeat them. However, if Mexicansninvaded the United States, they would be joined by slavesnrevolting against their masters and possibly by Indians, andnthere would be a triumphant march on Washington, DC.nThis explains President Paredes’ statement in the spring ofn1846 that before he would negotiate with Americans henwould see the “Eagle and Serpent” of Mexico floating overnThe White House.nThis attitude also explains President Paredes’ letter to thencommander of his Army of the North, General Pedro denAmpudia, on April 18, 1846: “At the present time I supposenyou to be at the head of our valiant army, either fightingnalready or preparing for the operations of the campaign.n… It is indispensable that hostilities be commenced,nyourself taking the initiative against the enemy.” Paredesnconfidently expected the first news of victory from the northnwould cause the Mexican populace to rise up and proclaimnhim king.nFive days later, on April 23, 1846, the Mexican Senate innsecret session declared a “defensive war” against the UnitednStates. The next day, April 24, long before either PresidentnParedes’ letter or the secret declaration of the MexicannSenate could have reached the Rio Grande, GeneralnMariano Arista replaced General Ampudia as commandernof Mexican forces on the northern frontier. Arista immediatelynissued orders for some 1,600 cavalry to cross the RionGrande and attack American forces on the north side of thenriver. That same afternoon a Mexican force came uponnCaptain William Thornton and about 60 American dragoons,nand “American blood was shed on American soil.”nThe conflict of 1846-1848 was one in which the UnitednStates was clearly justified in its actions. It was a conflict innwhich our armed forces performed brilliantiy and in whichnwe exacted the just fruits of our victory. This also was anconflict which the Mexican government deliberatelynsought, one which it confidently expected to win. This war,nmost properly, should be recalled as “the War of MexicannAggression.”nI can understand that Mexicans today, through a sense ofnnational pride, may “whimper” that their inheritance wasnless than they expected. What I cannot understand is whatnimpels so many Americans deliberately to ignore the factsnand call this a disgraceful episode in our history.nBETWEEN TWO WORLDS by Geoffrey WagnernReflecting on his upbringing in Trinidad, V.S. Naipaulndenies cultural identity to his part of the Caribbean:n”Nothing bound us together except this common residence.”nIndeed, the area called Caribbean is constantlynredefining itself. Its tongues include English, French,nSpanish, and Dutch. Its population shows large deposits ofnChinese and Indians as well as African blacks. Island status,noften thought of as a defining factor, is not a requisite—nconsider Belize, Guyana, Surinam. Countries have beennknown to call themselves Caribbean when politic to do so:nhearing that Venezuela had done so, the late PrimenMinister of Trinidad, Eric Williams, fumed, “I expect tonhear Tierra del Fuego called Caribbean next.”nThe French element (Martinique, Guadeloupe, thoughnnot Haiti) has remained departmentally linked to thenmainland for obvious social service advantages—the firebreathingnindependence movement in Guadeloupe beingntiny, and Russian-led. Aruba has refused to become anDutch-protected entity with the other ABC islands (Aruba,nBonaire, Curagao), but now seems to be reconsidering.nGeoffrey Wagner is Emeritus Professor of the CitynUniversity of New York, with a number of books to hisncredit; he lives in Grenada and writes frequently on thenregion.nnnFactional interests—the penalty of insularity everywhere—nprevented the ex-British West Indies from uniting. After thenwar there was the short-lived Federation of the West Indies;nthen came the inter-island trade community called CARIF-nTA; then, as the larger islands went independent (Jamaicanand Trinidad/Tobago in 1962, Barbados and mainlandnGuyana in 1966), the Windwards signed the St. VincentnTreaty, with Premiers Mitchell of St. Vincent, Compton ofnSt. Lucia, and Gairy of Grenada endeavoring to set up anfree union of goods and people.nIt did not last long—trade tariffs went up, visas werenrequired—nor did the strident St. George’s Agreement ofn1979, under whose banner Grenada’s Maurice Bishopnhoped to organize Caribbean Communism. This too becamenanother forgotten scrap of paper. The Windwardsnwere granted Associate Statehood, from which categorynGrenada was the first to free itself (under Gairy) in 1974.nStill the inter-island bickerings continue, as in attempts bynTobago to secede from Trinidad, or Barbuda from Antigua.nGrenada is presenfly the second smallest member of thenUN, but if Barbuda obtained independence, it would votenin the UN off a population of 700. Montserrat has remainedna Grown Colony, as has tiny Anguilla, but the latter is nownmuttering about independence, a cause no politician cannoppose (just as no one can publicly support prostitution orn