First of all I would like to say that I’m not an historian so it would presumptuous of me to claim that there is a direct link between the fall of Rome and what is happening these years in the US. So in the long tradition of conspiracy theorists I only put forward half-truths and convenient facts that fit my flawed analysis.
All that being said there are some similarities, which I thought was interesting and gives some food for thought. I will leave it to you to make up your own mind about what you think is happening in the world and around the only superpower in the world.
1. The Roman senate became corrupt and political it was a period of political and social instability. It was a period were official positions in society was offered to those who could pay what it took. When one became an official they were willing to accept bribes in exchange for favors. As a result the roman senate and a long range of Emperor came into power that were more or less mad. Based on this Rome experienced civil revolts creating instability.
– In the US there have been a long period were the ability to ‘afford’ office have become more and more important. Fundraising and subsequent favoritism of ones so-called friends or sponsors is viewed as a natural part of the political game. Many ambassador posts have been appointed based on sponsorships. In Denmark the former ambassador (James P. Cain) was not elected because he was a excellent diplomat or had a long diplomatic career but because he was a campaign contributor. As it turned out he actually did quite a good job but that is besides the point it could just as easy have been the other way around. The current ambassador Laurie S. Fulton is in much the same position as can was. As a domestic US example I would mention when the Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich tried to sell the then Mister Obamas seat in the senate for the highest bidder
2. The Emperor Constantine decided to split the Roman Empire into two halves. He declared Constantinople the new capital of Roman society, claiming rule over the Eastern provinces. This meant that Rome lost its power over towns in the East, causing a great reduction in profits from the treasury and weakening them dramatically in warfare.
– Even though the US have not made a decision as to split the country in two half’s it has in the resent ten years or so had a policy of that have divided its traditional allies in the western world. When G.W. Bush proclaimed that “either your are for us or against us” he split his most trusted allies into two groups were two very strong powers in Europe (Germany and France) fell outside the “for” group.
3. Several armies were descending on Rome from both the North and East.
– Even though we do not see mass armies gathering around the USA there is a perception in the country that there is a great outside threat that, if not countered, will lead to the ultimate demised of the country as a whole. Several large bills have been added to the US legislation, which give the population of the US a feeling that there is a “clear and present danger” looming somewhere out there. That if the country does not invest huge fortunes in the so-called homeland security it will mean the end life as a free people. I do not say that there is a certain degree of danger out there, which would like all Americans to a certain place far away. But the fact is that by acting as the country is under constant attack and keeping the population in a state of constant alert diverts resources away from positive development of the nation towards activities, which really does not add any value to its further development.
4. A large proportion of the Roman army was made up of soldiers drafted from places outside Rome itself. A large proportion of the army was comprised of inferior trained soldiers that did not match the Roman army’s highly trained legionnaires who roamed Europe just a few decades before. This made battles against Rome’s enemies much more difficult and meant that they no longer had a firm grip or control over military situations.
– The US has for decades supported regimes, which have little or no support among its own population. These dictatorships are falling due to unrest and revolt and are leading to new types of government, which might not be as loyal to the US as the predecessors. Just think of what the CIA have done in Latin America and South America, in Iran before a religious regime took over and more resent the development in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. These countries are in some form of political development, which might not result in regimes that have the same commitment to US dominance mainly due to the involvement with the previous regime. A sign that there are other powers that are willing and ale to take over the role of the US can be seen in Chinas involvement in Africa and some parts of South America were the US have been unable to respond to Chinas thirst for natural resources.
5. Rome represented the largest economy in the world and depended on trade within the empire for funds but as they experienced a recession they became relative poor and had trouble coping economically. Rome experienced situations were they had nothing to trade and were unable to recover from the recession. In order to expand its military might it needed fund and they had not enough of that for the upkeep of a waste army.
– The US is a situation were it is no longer has a sustainable economy it have lend just about as much money as possible and one of its biggest creditors is China who are a contender as the next big superpower in the world. On top of this the US is locked in military conflict several places, projecting power through several fleets and maintaining a large military both domestically and abroad. As funds starts to disappear so does the ability to maintain military might and powerbases around the world. Regimes, which could rely on the force of the US to intervene if something went wrong and can no longer, take help for granted. This shift is being noted among the many opposition parties and fractions around the world that seem to have found new air and a opportunity to topple exciting governments without the fear of the world’s number one superpower. As the world most dominant military power the US needs to be able to show real force around the world and if it is unable to do that it will no longer be considered a real threat. Tom Clancy ones wrote a book called ‘The teeth of the Tiger’ about the US ability and willingness to project military power around the world at its will if it felt threatened this might no longer be as true as it ones were.
This rings true if one looks at what happened in Rome as time progressed and the crisis deepened. After Emperor Trajan‘s rule in the early 2nd century BC, Hadrian took his place and adopted a so-called ‘security’ strategy (Homeland Security?). He came to realize that Rome was no longer in a position to continue its expansion, and so he ordered the construction of thick stonewalls bordering Roman land. The most famous one is in northern Britannia. The Roman army could barely hold its ground, having to defend such a wide and vast area. In a last attempt Rome started to pay of its enemies for them not to attack so that it could concentrate its forces.
There is no doubt that the US is a great nation and that much of our cultural, scientific and social innovation have come from here. But, there is clouds looming in the not so distant sky which threaten its dominant position and could lead to its demise. The number of internal and external issues that the country has to deal with at the same time could prove to be too much for it to handle and it might crumble under its own weight.