Rome-Antic: US and Rome
'Shock and Awe' Among the Ancients
So, where are the weapons of mass destruction? If
the above quote from Cato sounds a bit like Bush and
Rumsfeld, and the second quote reminds of the
'Coalition' launching the war while Iraq was still
destroying its missiles, history does have a tendency
to repeat itself. But - let's not quibble, the war is
over, and we are busy 'building democracy'. And
restoring our tattered alliances with Europe, Russia,
and Arab countries. The UN can help with the cleanup.
We'll parcel out the contracts.
Did anyone notice something peculiar about the 'Coalition of the Willing'? Let's see, our partners and supporters were Great Britain - the last of the Great Empires. Spain - whose empire preceded the British. And Italy - once Rome. Much as Iraq once was Babylon, also an empire. And who were the major players who opposed us? Russia, France, Germany - all failed empires, the USSR, Nazi Germany, Napoleonic France, each collapsing before dominance was established. In short, the successful empires of the past (apart from Babylon herself, of course) urged us on. We are their child, their successor. Which, in the case of Britain, is obvious. While the failed empires wanted us to fail also. A human response if ever there was one.
In previous discussions, I have argued that the
present Change of Ages is occurring now, from 1998 to
2012. In assessing the implications of world events,
it is useful to turn the pages back to the last Change
of Ages, which would have occurred approximately 150
BC. The pivotal event of that era was the Third Punic
War and the resulting destruction of Carthage (an
'Arab' empire in North Africa) - which marked the
transition of the Roman Republic into the world's
'Policeman' and sole 'Superpower'.
Now some of those might sound a bit familiar today.
Beset by economic difficulties, Rome refueled her
armies by offering limited Roman citizenship to allied
and conquered peoples who volunteered to join Roman
legions. Compare this, from 'Ask Us: Q & A About the
War' in the Chicago Tribune, April 14:
But how can we be an Empire? Surely our democratic
ideals and purposes are noble:
In fact, sometimes The Winners do have something to
teach; it's not always a bad idea to be the Romans:
And although the major cycles of history may repeat themselves, we are still permitted to hope for evolution within the cycles: for instance, in the earlier passage on problems besetting the Roman Republic, the author included the extension of slavery - no longer an acceptable idea in Rome, or America, today. Another example: "The Roman garrison commander - - massacred a population he suspected of disloyalty. The Romans had a pragmatic attitude to such atrocities, believing them acceptable if likely to be effective." - The present administration is justified in pointing out that, despite some serious helpings of 'collateral damage' and 'friendly fire', there was in fact a sustained effort to minimize civilian casualties. Our own ideas of what is 'pragmatic' have evolved a bit since Rome. (Or perhaps only since Dresden and Hiroshima.)
So, we may be the 'New Rome'. But the emphasis must be on 'new' as much as 'Rome'. On the ideal as much as the pragmatic. As Rome expanded, it incorporated the cultures and religions of conquered peoples. Their gods took their places in the Roman pantheon. (Just as our President has, rightly, insisted 'this is not a war against Islam'; Allah too can be made American.) Eventually, as Rome's political and military power ebbed, she won her last victory by incorporating Hebrew, Greek, Persian, Egyptian and Canaanite religious mythologies into the official state religion: which became the 'Roman Catholic (Universal) Church', or Church of Rome. In time, the religion of the 'New Age' will also become an American Institution, as we presently gather here all the religious impulses of cultures coming under the sway of American economic dominion. Let us hope what we create will have greater flexibility and tolerance than its Roman antecedent.
One more note: the reason we do not deal with 'weapons of mass destruction' in Korea in the same way we deal with them in Iraq can be answered in one word: China. The awakening giant. If we think of Empires replacing each other in a steady sweep from East to West (Sumero-Babylon; Alexander and Greece; Rome; Spain; England; the US), then China is next. Will that take 500 years or so? I don't know. But let's see if we can't add something to what's gone before before we turn it over.
Oh, and the very last thing: tell your kids to tell
their kids that when the Congress tries to extend the
Emergency War Powers Act and the term of the
Presidency beyond 8 years, revolt! Franklinus
Rooseveltus may have been our first Caesar, but let's
put off the Georgeus Bushus lineage, Seniorius or
Juniorius, as long as we can. It's still better being