Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Humpty Dumpty

This is quite an interesting read:
Empire Falls: Politics & Power:
and I find Niall Ferguson to have a lot of interesting, thoughtful views on history.

While "going soft" is one marker of an empire's decline, perhaps the heart of the fracture, the wrench in the machine, is the disconnect between the people and the policy. Between the publius and the empire. The premise of America, the roots of America are anti-empire and you cannot discount the inherent isolationist and ingenuous tendencies. Despite dalliances or illusions of empire, the United States of America, the underpinning of our country, is inherently anti-empire.

An empire, an imperial dynasty, must be willing to pay the price, and perhaps, more stridently, this implies that the empire must exact the price from other people. We are undoubtedly soft. Even our unparalleled military relax in air conditioning, enjoy video games, eat steak and ice cream (at least on good days), but they pack a terrific punch. Compare this to our often n-th world enemy, living on a bowl of rice a week, never seeing a dentist, drinking water that we wouldn't bathe in...but you cannot convince an empire or a to-be conquered people like this, that their life will be better after we show them our enlightened ways.

How many times do you bring, what is best for Carthage, to Carthage, before you sow the salt? So now we march in with our delusions of empire, but unwilling to spread the salt, and Hannibal will continue to smite us. Must we resort to Pyrrhus' tactics?

We have neither the stomach for Pyrrhus, nor the blood of Scipio Africanus.

Thus rather than dwell on empires and traditional notions of power, we, as a nation, should think in more dimensions and consider what is in our nature and what resonates with our fundamentals, such that we are a true national success.

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