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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Battle of Quebec and the Preemptive Strike

This month also marks the anniversary of the failed American assault on Quebec City, on December 31, 1775.  The invasion of Canada, primarily directed at Quebec and Montreal, was at its worst a primary and early example of American aggression and, at best, an honest effort to include Quebec in the American independence movement.  In a December 4, 1775 letter to the Continental Congress, George Washington wrote "Upon the whole I think, Affairs carry a pleasing aspect in that Quarter, the reduction of Quebec is an Object of such great importance, that I doubt not the Congress will give every Assistance in their power for the accomplishing it this Winter."

Here is what the Americans faced.

The leaders of the American forces were the young General Richard Montgomery, who easily took Montreal, and then Colonel Benedict Arnold, whose arduous journey through severe weather and terrain to get there brought him comparison to Hannibal crossing the Alps.  Montgomery was killed, and Arnold wounded.

Quebec provides an interesting departure point for consideration of the roots of American foreign policy in terms of the justification for preemptive strikes and when invasion of foreign soil for such purposes is warranted.
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