| “The deeper we delve in search of these causes of war, the more of them we discover, and each appears to us equally valid in itself, and equally false by its insignificance compared to the magnitude of the event.” Rather than worry about who said that, instead think of it in its pure context. War is an epic event that consumes humanity. It is indeed a great magnitude to which we put a lot of study in trying to devise the reasons behind it. Yet it is an important aspect to try to understand a bit more of, especially in this time and age as our country closes out it’s second war campaign in as many years. When comparing the types of tactics and mindsets to an epicenter of history, perhaps the Roman Empire is a good choice. Along with their military might of numbers and technology, the Roman institution of ius fetiales, which forbade offensive war, but allowed only those with a just cause, such as defense, is an easy rationale to take when looking at the two situations. Peering at the Roman Empire through analysis of this paradigm, as well as other justifications for expansion through ‘defensive’ measures, we see that this same system has been adapted to the United States today. In fact, the very idea of ‘pre-emption’ not only was an intricate part of the Roman Empire, but also has been woven into our own imperial policy.
The city of Roma was founded much on the premise that most large groups are formed: protection. Romulus, the founder of Roma, or Rome, did indeed avow defense of the city state above all else. Yet Rome grew larger than a city, and into two other continents. The history of Rome to its Imperial roots was one of conquest and expansion, like any other Empire that boasts a huge military complex. The timeline of Rome was that of modernization and technological growth with intermittent war. In these years before the dawn of Augustus, a Roman senate is formed after a monarchy is broken, the twelve tables of Roman law are produced, and Rome itself is blessed with a sewage system among other innovations of dear necessity. Yet the war machine was also quite active as the Roman military might spread out to defend itself against the Gauls, while attacking the other native inhabitants, the Etruscans- all apparently in self-defense. During this time Rome would fight the Punic wars with Carthage of Northern Africa, another mighty power in the Mediterranean. These wars would be an exercise in Roman military law, as well as its brutality. It seems sort of suspicious that in these first few centuries of Rome’s existence that it would expand its foothold in the world overtaking vast amounts of land. Yet the citizenry and the Republic upheld the rules of war, they claim, even while pledging itself to defense through the idea of ius fetiales. Works Cited
DeForrest, Mark E. “Just War Theory and The Recent U.S. Air Strikes Against Iraq.” Gonzaga University Press: Spokane, WA., 1997.
Halsall, Paul. “The Roman Way of Declaring War”: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook, 06-1998. Last Accessed: 22-Apr-2003
Leonard, Ira. “Violence is the American Way.” AlterNet Media Online, 22-Apr-2003 Last Accessed: 23-Apr-2003
Schell, Jonathan. “The Case Against the War.” The Nation: New York, N.Y. 03-Mar-2003 issue
Testimony by John Maresca to the House Committee on International Relations. 12-Feb-1998 Last Accessed: 20-Mar-2003
Radio broadcast online. “Afghanistan Plans Pipeline.” British Broadcasting Center, online. 13-May-2002. Last Accessed: 22-Apr-2003.
In 1998 an executive of UNOCAL, a huge oil trader, testified to the House of Representatives that the Taliban was a burden on a ‘new silk road’ through the region, hampering efforts to build a huge natural gas pipeline (WWW, LOC). Guess what? As the BBC reported on May 13 2002, the new intermin President of Afghanistan has entered into agreement with Pakistan and Turkmenistan that will indeed allow Americans to build the longest pipeline constructed in history (WWW, BBC). The rhetoric from the Bush administration has only leant more evidence to the contrary of a nation in pursuit of peace. With words like “crusade” and the use of almost prophetic terms, it is obvious that we have prepared the U.S. for another round of good old fashion Imperialism. So where is the blood tipped spear? It came in a more modern version: U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441- a hands down contract that not only did Iraq accept, but comply with. So what did the Americans do? The same thing the Romans did to many of its conquests, including the Sassanian Persian Dynasty in seventh century C.E.: they convinced the Romans that it was for the best interests of the people within the country to receive the grace of the Roman protectorate. Sound like a familiar chant? Can anyone say “Operation: Iraqi Liberation?”
You must be logged in to add tags.
This user has not written anything in his panorama profile yet.
| Apr 26th, 2003
Great to see some historical perspective on recent history. Although, I must say I'm not entirely sure about the US's will for global domination. Considering the backgrounds and beliefs of the neocons, I'm inclined to think that their crusade is a moralist one, justified by the words of Fukuyama and Huntington. I doubt their imperial mission is just for the sake of pure power, i think they really believe that what they are doing is "right;" much as the Romans' did. And therein lies the greatest challenge - convincing the world that motives, no matter how sincere, can be disastrous, as true "belief" allows 'just cause' to be a given. Rather than being proven objectively, "just cause" is justified as it fits the belligerent's take on "truth."
Absolute truth is rubbish. In politics and society, perspective is everything.
| May 11th, 2004
Great stuff :)
You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up
for free or login