RE-THINKING ALOUD : In the last days of America’s hegemony (13)

Saturday December 8 2018

US soldiers seen during NATO drills. PHOTO |

US soldiers seen during NATO drills. PHOTO | FILE 

By Wilfred Alex

Without the extra use of army beyond defence, would America be so rich? If yes: how so? This sounds simple enough a question for ones who take things lightly, but its answer runs a discourse. America isn’t feared and loved in equal measures because it has best humans – neither best knowledge nor better judgement - but because of what its military does.

For example, if America becomes an ally of Kuwait, other nations fear the latter because of what the US Army can do.

Did the ancient kingdoms of Europe: Gallic, Germanic, Briton, Spanish, Greeks and others fear and love Rome because it had the best of rule – republic system with a democratic Senate – or best humans? No. The Roman republic had an outstanding, most disciplined, well trained and most brutal military machinery known as the ‘legions’. When the legions ran over those lands they killed with abandon, rivers turning into bloods.

There are times the Roman Republic turned lands in Europe into fields of war. Swords known as ‘gladii’ were the most widespread weapon outnumbering the Romans themselves. Each silver, gold or bronze coin was raised either through bloody wars, manufacturing of gladii or invasion of foreign lands. Wars brought boots, negotiations, business alliances, tithe, slaves and of course colonial occupation. The Romans were so patriotic that when they fought and killed in frenzy of inhumanity sang, ‘honour to Rome’. Actually that was honour to barbarism!

The idea of military bases, uh! When she lasted, the Roman republic not only had legions stationed far off – looking at the noses of their victims – but also had war machineries, chests and legionnaires crawling around foreign territories in full gears and ready. Legionnaires’ camps were magnificent forts built in almost all strategic places Rome’s shadow could reach. So America isn’t pioneer in camping around the world – erecting military bases - to ‘defend American interests’ as they argue. That is an old colonial trick that Rome exhausted to the core.

Rome is gone

Scholars do agree Rome was so much a strong empire whose innovations in war techniques, military occupation, navies, taxation, democracy, debates in Senate, patriotic rants/chants and forms of heroism were foundations for her strength. Yet the same were driving causes for her demise. That is to say, ‘what goes around comes around’. How could that have been so?

Rome ran the longest course of survival than any other empire before and after. Her demise was gradually that scholars fail to pinpoint at what exact time she eased down hill. Some choose to say her rising sowed her decline – which means she started declining the moment she rose – others argue that at the start of wrangling among Senators during the last century of republic – which led to several civil wars – was the start of her decline. Brighter still are those who argue that when Rome’s leading houses – patres/patricians - degenerated into preening lot than loyalists was the cause. Rome’s decline is shrouded in mysteries scholars do not appreciate any reason.

When she lasted, Rome had people who looked upon their achievement, richness, life style and social organization to refute they could ever stoop. They saw ‘world-others’ as hordes of animals, barbarians, villains and lunatics. They cheered Rome as the centre of the world and pantheons. But we know better – Rome is gone.

Is the US faring better?

We know she is not. The US hegemony is built on worse foundations than Rome. For example, like Rome, the US retains the same killer innovations: military bases globally, war technologies, diplomacy of alliances and enmity, revering heroism and patriotism of drudgery etc. Yet America isn’t in the times Rome. Modern states are cleverer, more united, sophisticated, learned and the age of information brings quick knowledge of what goes around – this wasn’t there when Rome ruled. Greeks were so divided and Gaul was a tens of polities!

Things remain the same the more they change. Looking at their achievements, Americans in Senate and congress think they are the best of states. History knows better…

Wilfred Alex is Coordinator, Editor and Tutor at Legendary Performers

Twitter: @WRuhega

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