Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Thursday, January 08, 2004

What Is the New Rome?

According to Osama bin Laden (the term “ghostwriter” sounds particularly appropriate right now), Muslims must oppose the “New Rome,” which he assumed means the US. So let's compare the US and Rome.

If we take Rome as the model, those parts of Roman history that look eerily familiar to present-day Americans occurred between the time of Tiberius Gracchus (an analog of JFK) and the time of Crassus (an analog of H. Ross Perot). I think the best analog for the Current Unpleasantness occurred about 100 BCE when Rome was attacked by a bunch of barbarians nobody had heard of before and was defended by Marius (who made his reputation by jailing a previously untouchable crook and was subsequently known for professionalizing the armed forces). In that case, we can expect it will be five hundred years before Washington is sacked.

The Muslim world, on the other hand, resembles the Roman Empire of Justinian. It had thoroughly collapsed a century earlier and had even lost control of the area that had made the universal state possible. (The Muslim equivalent is the fact that Turkey is now secular.) It was limited to the core cultural area of the Aegean Sea and Anatolia and the even more thoroughly decayed civilization of Egypt. It's as though the American Empire of six hundred years from now consisted of Europe and possibly the mid-east. Under Justinian, the Roman Empire made a last feeble attempt to regain its lost glory while simultaneously shutting down what was left of its intellectual life. It was unable to keep out previously harmless peoples for long … just as Muslims are unable to keep Jews out of Israel.

Roman comparisons work both ways.

Mohammed opposed the very late Roman Empire. By the standard of WWMD (What Would Mohammed Do?), it's time to take over Dar al Islam and have it run by capable hands.


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