Tuesday, November 30, 2010

U.S.A. Today Looks Like Rome Yesterday

As President Obama steps down the leadership role of America in world affairs and emphasizes domestic priorities, he begins to look very much like the emperors of the latter part of the Roman Empire.

Rome was the only world superpower in the late 2nd Century, A.D.; but 100 years later Rome was terminally ill, weakened first by internal corruption and unsustainable spending and then destroyed by the emergence of multi-polar contenders for power. Roman currency had been debased; and inflation was out of control. In those 100 years, the Roman bureaucracy grew about 35 fold. Military spending and commitments were scaled back, and Roman citizens were demanding all sorts of government programs to give them the things they desired. Moral life was deteriorating and Roman citizens were being entertained by the most horrible, violent, and degraded forms of sport.

External forces sensed Rome’s weakness, including its shrinking military and its lack of will. Persia’s ruler judged an unusually favorable peace offering from Rome as a reason to attack rather than negotiate. Other enemies reached the same conclusion.

By the mid-5th Century, multiple powers contended for world leadership; and it took 1000 years before the world matched the stability, technological progress, and prosperity enjoyed under Rome’s leadership.

Do you see any similarity of the United States to the situation that pertained in ancient Rome?

(This blog post was excerpted from a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal 11-2-10 by Mike Hall of Gainesville, Fl.)

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