FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Parallels Between Washington and Ancient Rome

by JOHN WIGHT

The parallels between Washington and ancient Rome are increasingly apparent.

As with its predecessor, Washington presides over a global empire that is economic, political, and cultural in scope, secured by a military capability that far exceeds its rivals or any potential alliance of its rivals. As in the days when Rome held sway, and people from all over the known world coveted the prize of Roman citizenship, so millions today dream of attaining US citizenship, perceived as the sine qua non of validation and status.

The lure of the American Dream – one of the greatest myths ever perpetuated – has successfully sucked millions of immigrants to the United States from all over the world, helping to fuel its economic might.

The association that once existed between Rome and civilization finds its echo today in the association between America and democracy, considered the unimpeachable barometer of civilization in the 21st century; even though the enduring power of both was and is secured by the willingness and capacity to unleash war on an overwhelming scale.

The countless wars fought by Rome throughout its history is matched in relative terms by the US over the past century. In every region of the world US military might has been deployed in one shape or another, either covertly or overtly, with the aim of maintaining or advancing US geopolitical and economic advantage.

The front line in this struggle to cement the writ of Washington is currently the Middle East, where at time of writing a cruise missile strike against Syria appears imminent.

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement of intent, on behalf of the US government, in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government against its own people bore a striking similarity to Caesar’s pretext for mounting his invasion of Gaul in 59 BC. Just as first Iraq, then Libya, and now Syria have been depicted as constituting a threat to civilization, Gaul and the many tribes which made up this vast ancient European hinterland was held to constitute same by a Roman elite with a rapacious hunger for ever more wealth and resources to feed its insatiable appetite for power.

And just as now – vis-a-vis the US and its allies – Rome also had its willing satraps, states and tribes eager to participate in its carve up of the world’s resources, determined to position themselves on the right side of power.

Rome brooked no law, no impediment to the projection of imperial power other than those of its own making. Likewise, today, the US increasingly demonstrates a staggering and egregious disregard for international law in its own projection of imperial power. The UN is nothing more than a rubber stamp for decisions already taken in Washington; and when it refuses to be a rubber stamp, as with this imminent military intervention in Syria, it is bypassed without any compunction or pretence of justification other than that decided the president and his cabinet.

It is significant that the use of hard power to cement Washington’s writ around the world correlates with its relative economic decline and the emergence of China and Russia in defiance of Washington’s objective of the unipolar world that seemed assured upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The ‘End of History’ bunkum brought to us by Neocon hack, Francis Fukuyama, reflected the sense of triumphalism that intoxicated the US government and its institutions over the ideological defeat of Soviet communism. The belief that capitalism and liberal democracy would endure for all time as the apogee of civilization and development was prevalent. It was hubris taken to an extreme and came back to bite its disciples with the atrocity of 9/11.

Since then the projection of military might has poisoned US society from top to bottom. The acceptance and apotheosis of violence is embedded in American culture, as is the gross inequality and social and economic injustice which blights the lives of millions of its citizens. In a very real sense injustice at home acts as the foundation of the injustice Washington projects abroad under the smokescreen of liberal democracy.

Ultimately the Roman Empire fell, as all empires fall, but not without huge dislocation, violence, and mayhem. As the Roman philosopher and stoic, Seneca, warned his compatriots: ” A kingdom founded on injustice never lasts”.

Washington and its satraps would be wise to heed those words today.

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail