Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ancient Rome

topic: war

They'd never admit it, but the Bush administration sees a parallel between our current military actions in the middle east and the Crusades. They like to see themselves as righteous, Christian soldiers, wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. The truth is it's not the Crusades but another equally disastrous historic event that the current struggle should be compared to, the fall of the Roman Empire.

Unlike our military action in Iraq, Al Quada has a clearly defined and easily understood objective. That objective is to spread the U.S. military as thin as possible, bleed our resources and make us look like aggressive imperialists on the world stage. Considering we're waging a war in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Somalia at a cost that is vastly greater than expected, I'd say they're doing a pretty good job.

The classic "Fall of Rome" image is that of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. In actuality there were a number of factors that led to it's fall. As it's empire grew, the Roman army became spread across a greater area. This increased military spending, taxes, which led to dissatisfaction with the government on the home front. (it also greatly benefited their defence contractors.) At the same time the Romans came under attack from barbarian hordes from the east, who waged war using nontraditional methods. The Roman army was the strongest in the world. Against a traditional force they were nearly invincible. Against the Huns, Goths, and Visigoths, who waged a type of guerrilla warfare, they were stymied and suffered a death of 1000 cuts.

So where do we stand in comparison? Military spread thin? check. Dissatisfaction with the government? check. Barbarian hordes from the east waging nontraditional warfare. a big check. The parallels are disturbing. What's even more disturbing is that the administration seems blissfully ignorant of it.

Non Sequitur: There's an unexplained rotten odor hanging over much of Manhattan. My guess is it's either George Steinbrenner or Donald Trump. My bet's on Steinbrenner.

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