On August 11, 106 AD, the Roman legions under the Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD), conquered the Kingdom of Dacia, located on the eastern side of the Danube in what is today, Romania. The Romans besieged the capital and destroyed it. The Dacian king, Decebalus, and a few of his loyalists fled into the mountains where they would soon commit suicide. Other nobles chose to surrender, one of whom revealed the location of the Dacian Royal treasury.
Our source, Pliny, tells us the spoils were enormous, 500,000 pounds of gold, 1,000,000 pounds of silver. As was the natural order, these were summarily transferred to the Roman treasury. And to augment the Dacians’ taxes, the vast gold and silver mining operations extant in Dacia would be henceforth worked by native miners and slaves, with the proceeds also flowing to the Roman treasury. Those Dacians who wished to submit to the new Roman order could find gainful employment. Hard working slaves were also routinely set free. Those who continued to resist would be hunted down and crucified. For the Romans, crucifixion was a form of advertising with the message to the newly conquered provincials —we will respond to rebellion with ruthless abandon.
The Bush Doctrine
In 2001, the Pentagon amended US defense policy to include what came to be known as the Bush Doctrine. It was a stark reversal of the Clinton doctrine of denial, a repudiation of a foreign policy which essentially refused to face the gathering threats. Early in 1983, shortly after Clinton’s inauguration, a terrorist cell headed up by Ramzi Yusef (now in jail in the US and widely revered in Egypt as a saint) detonated a bomb in a parking garage beneath the World Trade Center. The terrorists’ plan was to collapse Tower One against Tower Two, with the goal, the loss of well over 100,000American lives. The bomb was not successful in collapsing Tower One but killed 11 and injured scores. On the day of the attack, Clinton happened to be in New Jersey but never even toured the site. On his feckless eight-year watch, the Muslim attacks continued to escalate, culminating in 9/11, the second World Trade Center attack.
During their rise to dominance over the Mediterranean, the Romans developed a concept they called just war. Among its other tenets, their just-war doctrine held—if any other state aids or abets our enemy while we are at war with that enemy, we will consider the aider or abettor to be at war with Rome.
Similarly, after to 9/11, the Bush doctrine rejected the notion that the US should uniformly respect the sovereignty of all nations. Borrowing from the Romans’ just-war doctrine, Bush proclaimed that, henceforth, every nation should know that harboring or abetting terrorists would be viewed as an act of war against the US. Moreover, he made it clear that, with or without the approval of such obsequious bodies as the United Nations, the US would move against any state sponsor of terror with any intensity we chose and in any time of our choosing.
In my book, Lessons from Fallen Civilizations, I opine that the following words, delivered shortly after 9/11, by President Bush to a joint session of Congress will be among the most enduring of any American president:
We have seen their kind before… And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies… The advance of human freedom, the great achievement of our time, now depends on us. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail… The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.
The New Just War Doctrine and Iran
Nearly all Islamic acts of terror which have occurred over the past thirty years around the globe have some connection to the Mullahs running Iran. If Muslim terrorism is a snake, they are its head. They are the men who have a religious devotion to our destruction. They cannot be appeased, nor should they be. They have huge American blood on their hands. This April was the 30-year anniversary of the Beirut embassy bombing where 17 Americans died and in October, it will be the 30-year anniversary of the bombing of the US Marine barracks in which 241 were killed. One of the great spies of our generation, Robert Baer, in his book, See No Evil – The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism, recorded that toward the end of his long career working undercover in the Middle East, he found the smoking gun, proof that those attacks were planned and directed by the men occupying the highest level of the Iranian government. This regime needs to be taken out. The US is justified in doing so. And with Iran close to becoming a nuclear power, this should be the time of our choosing.
Over the last decade, in fighting two wars in the Middle East, the cost to America in blood and treasure has been high. Add to that, we now see trained Afghan soldiers turning on and murdering their American trainers and see Iraq devolving into a fractured, failed state allied with Iran. Given these realities, it may be that we will be forced to update the Bush Doctrine, modifying it to something closer to the Romans’ Dacian model. After the just-war conquest of a rogue terror-sponsoring state such as Iran, in order to recoup the cost of the invasion and on-going occupation costs, it may be that we will be forced to consider at least some the following post progressive, Romanesque options;
- The temporary preemption of all tax collection with a portion used to pay down the invasion and occupation costs
- The nationalization of all mining and energy-related industries for the same
- The implementation in-country of our new-found, metadata surveillance technology to protect occupation forces from attack
- The administration of military tribunals and courts for the summary dispensation of justice for those caught engaging in rebellion
It seems that a visionary president could make the case, that the new just-war doctrine would justify America entering into a temporary partnership with those newly liberated peoples who had, prior to our invasion, lived under tyrannical terror-sponsoring regimes. He could emphasize that America would offer this newly liberated people an ally status. And after our departure, that would afford them the opportunity to live under the American security umbrella. But unlike the Dacian model, he could assure them and the world, that our occupation and partnership with the newly liberated would only last as long as was required to recoup our costs and that we would leave them to their own governance once the account was settled. He might even remind them that the world will be far a more dangerous place if America is too bankrupt to remain the lone super power.
We are desperately in need of a president who understands that America is a superpower and an empire of the willing, but an empire nevertheless. But unlike the British Empire of the twentieth century, we do not have the option of going quietly into the night.