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

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail