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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Marines to Kill Desert Tortoises
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail