The Salon II

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Giorgius Caesar, Imperator Augustus?

Every sunday, I have made a point of taking advantage of my Grand-father's - it's a long story - HBO subscription, to watch "Real Time with Bill Maher", arguably the most entertaining, and informative political/satirical debate show on TV. This last sunday, aside of finding out that Sen. Joe Biden was probably my new LOVE in the Democratic Party, I also had the pleasure of hearing an interview of the author of "The American Theocracy", Kevin Phillips. The erudite, and former Republican strategist, made the claim - and I believe it's in the book too - that the United States was over-reaching dangerously. The United States is making key mistakes that other Empires before this one had made, in an overly ambitious - and frankly arrogant and self-centered - attempt at spreading their particular understanding of government, and "civilization". It is a sentiment that I had felt before, without being able to put my finger on exactly what it was. Then I read this:
BBC NEWS | Americas | Planning the US 'Long War' on terror: "It sounds eerily like the Cold War - and that is no mistake.

The 'Long War' is the name Washington is using to rebrand the new world conflict, this time against terrorism.

Now the US military is revealing details of how it is planning to fight this very different type of war.

It is also preparing the public for a global conflict which it believes will dominate the next 20 years."
If I am getting this right, the Bush administration, in a very familiar way, has taken it upon itself to single-handedly engage the entire planet in a cold-war-lengthed, but in practice much warmer conflict. Not that I like terror - in any form, and from any source - but, how arrogant can the US government be? It was not enough that they - and the USSR - held the entire planet hostage, and made the rest of us, from the so-called "peripheral countries", pay the price of their squirmishes. No it wasn't enough. Now we are forced to accept to be virtually "ruled" by the superpower. It is the return of "Rome"... hence the title of this post.

Do not get me wrong. As staunchly as I disagree with the Bush administration's policies, I do not claim that they have the exclusivity of this domineering attitude; they have just perfected it. No US administration has ever been as forceful in their imposition of an ultra-conformity to a war effort, at the planetary level. Why do I say that? In that very same article of the BBC that we quote above, it is said that:
"But I would like to see to the number of troops in the Middle East cut to a fraction of the current 300,000, by at least a half."

The US military is planning a big increase in the role of special forces, the smaller, specially-trained teams able to speak local languages - including Arabic - deploy rapidly and work with the armies of other nations.
It is now settled: The United States military has taken the option to deputize at will, the military forces of any country that they so please. No need for the UN, or Interpol, to take any action on a foreign land - they have proven that in Iraq. The United States can simply coerce, intimidate, blackmail or entice in various ways the governments of other countries to put their armed forces, military bases, (and oil fields, but that is another story) at the United States' disposal; we are going to see the first case of a super-power deputizing armies of the world, since... Napoleon! And Rome before him!

The Bush administration is so convinced that their understanding of the American way, is ALWAYS the right way for every living soul, that they are hellbent on imposing it. At least during the cold war, the rest of us had the illusion of being independent for a little while. Now even those illusions are beginning to fade away. In fact they started fading way after September 11, when Bush made the famous "you're either with us, or against us" speech. President Bush had made it clear then that he believed he was leading the enlightened forces, fighting the good fight, with God on his side. When leaders start claiming divine support - which not so far from divine right monarchy - I get very scared. It is a position that gives the leader the impression that his/her "blessed and noble" ends justify all means. This is when arrogance, and a sense of infallibility, and righteousness tends to settle in.

In the US's case, Bush has the self-righteousness, and Rumsfeld has the arrogance and the sense of infaliibility. People made a mistake when they compared these two to Hitler and Himmler. That's not it at all: It's Ceasar and his main centurion. Those that evoked the Imperial presidency were right on the money. They want to rule, theywant a rubber-stamp Congress, and they want to increase their grip on the forces of the world. They have began to develop the "paranoia of the powerful" that has it that the world is out to get them, and they have therefore developped their "premptive strikes" theory. Giorgius Caesar? you bet !

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