When summarizing the ideas brought forth in this paper, we have examined the Roman Rise to power, as well as the method it used to achieve it: machiavellian tactics of offense through defense, using the grandiose rules of ‘fetiales.’ It should not be surprising then to see the comparisons made with that of the United States today. We banter the words just war, while at the same time are doing nothing but what has been done time and time again. Perhaps Tolstoy, the owner of the opening words, gets the last laugh. Indeed, it seems as if every or any tactic or reason as to the causes of war can be contemplated and weighed, yet next to this vice of human existence, the causes mean very little to the soldier on the battle field or the innocent victims torn in half by bombs. In the end: defensive, offensive, just or unjust war, it leaves all who witness this ‘event of magnitude’ with a bit of distaste and a little more critical of those who would continue this most horrendous tradition.Yet congruent with this perhaps violent trend, is also our ignorance to our own history. While this could be a paper, or a book, in and of itself, I merely make the point as a statement of validation for my future claims. It is because of this lack of knowledge, contempt for our pretexts and history in general that we allow the current administration, and many before, to wave the flag of patriotism and abide by the fetiales’ heralds. The most recent example of United States tailored Imperialism has been with Iraq. The daunting questions that must be asked at this point are: was war with Iraq just? Was it a defensive war, and not just a ploy, as the Romans used? Again, countless evidence points to the fact that Saddam Hussein did not have plans to attack the United States, nor an effective means of doing so, and furthermore was not in any position to go rampaging any where else in the middle east. Yet we certainly see the sort of panacea to all of the U.S. foreign policy makers who want to expand our control over the world. As Jonathon Schell reports in the Nation:
“How has it happened that President Bush has revived and implemented this long-buried, long-rejected idea [of hegemony in the middle east]? We know the answer. The portal was September 11. The theme of the "war on terror" was from the start to strike pre-emptively with military force. Piece by piece, a bridge from the aim of catching Osama bin Laden to the aim of stopping proliferation on a global basis was built. First came the idea of holding whole regimes accountable in the war on terror; then the idea of "regime change" (beginning with Afghanistan), then pre-emption, then the broader claim of American global dominance. Gradually, the most important issue of the age--the rising danger from weapons of mass destruction--was subsumed as a sort of codicil to the war on terror” (Schell, 12-16).
Of course, something to stir the public up and confuse them with history, culture and facts they cannot possible hope to decipher and understand. That is what the American government has done. The push for war has been synonymous with our own defense, yet no evidence has shown that we, or any of our allies, were ever in danger. The United States has a history of invading or attacking countries, and calling it ‘defense’ when it is not. In fact, in 1996, U.S. warplanes bombed military zones along Iraqi borders in response to Iraqi offensives to the Northern Kurds (DeForrest). International law, as well as the generally premises of Just war, did not give us clearance to aid the Kurds, as it was within Iraqi borders. But what it did allow the U.S. to do was further whittle away at the remnants of the Iraqi military, so that when the time came- and it has- it would be much simpler to topple Iraq. Afghanistan is yet another story.While the doctrine was not an established rhetoric term until the time of Cicero, the tradition of finding excuse to make war ‘just’ was used time and time again. A ready example is that of the Punic wars, those with Carthage that would leave it a blithe mark upon the world. Indeed, because of a treaty signed by Carthage to hold itself to non-aggression unless given permission otherwise by Rome, which was broken by the Carthage General Hannibal’s attack on Saguntum. Moreover, the Romans called for Carthage to dismiss Hannibal and send him to Rome, to which Carthage would of course not do. This gave all the justification that Rome needed to push them into a second war, which would obliterate the Phoenicians of Carthage. This whole process is eerily ironic. The process of declaring war was, as Plutarch explains as follows:
“The fetiales were charged with a ritualistic conduct of certain foreign relations under the direction of the Senate. They carried Rome’s offer of a treaty to a foreign state- witnessed by Jupiter, as a token of good faith. If, after the time stipulated time, the treaty was not accepted, they proceeded again from Rome to the boundary of the foreign state and hurled a spear dipped in blood across the border as a declaration of war” (Brand, 86).
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| 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 :)
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