Monday, January 03, 2005

A Rumsfeld/Bush thought

Greyhawk over at The Mudville Gazette writes:

I don't think there's ever been another SecDef that meant as much to the troops as Rumsfeld, there's an unprecedented bond between the man and the troops. It stems from mutual respect, grows from the real feeling of brotherhood of war that most military members feel at this time in history, and is strengthened by the us against them mentality that the media is fueling with their war on our boss.

All the criticism of Rumsfeld recently did call to mind a rather bizarre thought - that the relationship between Rumsfeld/Bush, the military, and the media is not completely dissimilar to the situation that prevailed in the mid-90s AD in Rome with Domitian, Trajan, the Roman Army, and the senatorial class. Of course, its not completely apt - the US happens to be a democracy for one thing, and I rather doubt George Bush is either going to embark on a reign of terror or be killed by his wife (though I guess some of the more loony of his critics might actually believe in the reign of terror).

Anyway, the basic situation was that Domitian, although justly hated by the senatorial classes (he did kill off quite a number of them) had the support of the army. A very real support - he campaigned with them and won there respect. After the initial euphoria of his murder the senatorial class suddenly realise that they have to appease the army jolly quickly otherwise they were all, in every sense of the phrase, dead meat. So they basically make the general, Trajan, heir to the Empire (he inherits two years later). Trajan is prepared to let the name of Domitian be blackened for ever, but actually starts to transform the Empire from what is known as the Principate to the Dominate. Esssentially he is far more autocratic and despotic than what went before, more prone to military ventures, more willing to lessen the power and influence of the senators by focusing on provincials and lesser men - indeed he himself is not from their set. As, in a way, Domitian wasn't, being the son of man who had been emperor, but just a hick from an Appenine stick.

There are similarities there, amusing ones when you think about it. The only think I'm trying to work out in the parellel is who plays the part of Hadrian. Condi Rice?

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