Posts Tagged ‘Fall of Rome’


Demonstrators celebrate in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday Feb. 18, 2011. Tens of thousands of flag-waving Egyptians packed into Tahrir Square for a day of prayer and celebration Friday to mark the fall Hosni Mubarak.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

If one recalled nothing else about the Roman Empire as it began to decline it was this, Roman citizens loved a good show. The spectacle and the grandeur of gladiators battling to the death, or perhaps the horror of watching Christians being eaten by lions was nothing if not visceral and gripping.  The escapism offered by up by Roman rulers to quell public appetites were as epic as they were debauched, assaulting the senses, tearing at people’s emotions.  Today’s debauched drama is about ISIS and the war in the Middle East.  It is a serious business, and certainly not orchestrated by the President, but like the Roman spectacles held in the coliseums of antiquity, today’s spectacle is nothing more than theatre to make Americans believe that their government is doing something about this planet’s decent into chaos.

In this modern world, Americans are all busy with their lives. Today, Americans go to work, care for the families and do their best to raise their children and expect government to protect its citizens, but what if the government is either unwilling or unable to confront the evil consuming the lives we witness on television?

ISIS Fighter on Sykes-Picot Agreement  – Warning!  Graphic content.

President Barack Obama claims the atrocities committed by ISIS, (Islamic State in Syria) or in his words, ISIL, (Islamic State in the Levant,) are unacceptable and will be resisted. What the president will not say is what he really means.  The truth is that he is categorically unwilling to do what would be required to end the atrocities by ISIS.  The truth is the US population, like the populations in many Western nations is deeply divided on most issues concerning the Middle East.  Citizens in Western nations are war-weary; still, the vast majority of people in the West are horrified and sickened by the brutality displayed by ISIS.  When ISIS beheads a Western reporter or aid working and posts the video for everyone to see, it shakes civilized people to their core.  When we hear that thousands of women and children are being raped, crucified, and beheaded it shocks us to such a point we demand action.  What is a president to do?  Short of all-out war akin to the effort of the Allies in WWII by a united and committed West on the Middle East, nothing will change.  There are hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East.  Regardless of sect, tribal, or ethnic divisions the vast majority of this population is antagonistic to the West.  It has been this way for centuries.  As Americans, we think we are so modern, and we are by comparison, but the world-view of the West is only half of the equation when discussing violence in the Middle East.  There over three-hundred-million people in the Middle East who look at things very differently.  While Europeans and Americans think about the problem in terms of years or even decades, for Arabs, the perspective is much longer.  Last week ISIS put out a video talking about the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 during WWI.

This agreement was designed to accomplish one important goal, to divide Arab tribes and to keep them fighting amongst themselves, so that the imperial powers could maintain their trade routes. At the same time Colonel TE Lawrence, (Lawrence of Arabia) promised the Arabs that the West would support them in their goal to replace the Caliphate ruled by the Ottoman Empire with a new Caliphate centered in Syria, if these tribes would fight with the British and the French against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and The Ottoman Empire. Obviously, the West lied.  The ISIS fighter in the video pointed to one of the artificial national boundaries created by the French, Britain, and Russia.  He pointed out that the border no longer exists.  In other words, ISIS is erasing the Sykes-Picot Agreement on the ground.

Sykes Picot Map 1916 -

Sykes Picot Map 1916 –

These facts on the ground bring us up to the term ISIL that President Obama uses instead of the more common ISIS. The term ISIL, (Islamic State in the Levant), includes territory all along the eastern end of the Mediterranean.  The Levant is the territory once ruled by the Ottoman Empire.  It includes Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and parts of Egypt.  It also precluded the existence of Israel.  Look at those names on the map.  How many of these countries have already been destabilized.  President Obama, Senators like McCain, Graham and others from both parties spoke in such glowing terms about the Arab Spring.  These men couldn’t wait to go to war in Lybia.  Just this year, Mr. Obama pronounced a red line related to Libya’s chemical weapons and moved to go to war over Syria, only to be rebuffed by overwhelming opposition by the American people.  A CNN/ORC International poll written about in September of last year shows that eighty percent of Americans believe that regardless that Bashar al-Assad was gassing his citizens, a strong majority opposed Congress passing a resolution authorizing a military force against him.  The article states that over seventy percent doubt that such strikes would accomplish the goals set out by the administration and believe it is not in US interest to get involved in the Syria’s civil war.

Now, after the barbaric beheading of two Americans and the atrocities being committed daily, the President has what he wants, a pretext to arm the so-called moderate Syrian rebels.  In all honesty, Americans know that there is nothing moderate about the groups fighting in the Levant.  Mr. Obama and his Republican friends are bending over backwards to give weapons and support to people whose primary goal in life is to put an end to Bashar al-Assad and to promote the reestablishment of the Caliphate.  Consider this, after Bashar al-Assad has been deposed in the coming months, how likely it is that these so-called moderate Syrian rebels will fight ISIS?  How sure can American leaders be that these so-called moderate Syrian rebels are not themselves sympathetic or actually part of ISIS?  How likely is that they might make an accommodation with ISIS or perhaps then turn on Jordan?  After all, Jordan is the only remaining state in the Levant other than Israel that hasn’t yet been destabilized.

Most Americans realize that Islamic extremism has been a reality for as long as Islam has existed but whether radical Islam is an existential threat to Western Culture has been as dependent on the West as it is on radical Islamists. In other words, when Western Culture is strong and Islamic extremism is disheartened and without support, the threat is more of an irritant than a fundamental threat to other cultures.

What popular culture fails to make common knowledge is that while typical Americans think of North Africa as being the seat of Islamic culture, it was home to Christianity, with some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Obviously Islam not only dominates the Middle East, but has spread in force to the Pacific Rim in countries like Malaysia, and into Europe, South America, and even into the United States.

While there are millions of Muslims who are happy to live and let live along side of other cultures, Islamic extremism is a constant aspect that goes wherever Islam goes. One can go back centuries into the past, even before the Pope Urban declared the original Crusade in 1095 to see Islamic conquests.

Islamist, like their progeny today held prisoners for ransom and beheaded their enemy’s. During the late 700’s Muslim conquests had pushed almost as far as Paris and might well have taken over Europe had Charles Martel and his son Charlemagne not repelled them after the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  It’s fair to say that the Islamic threat was nothing if not an existential threat to the European way of life.   As history continued to unfold, the West, fueled by technology and a culture of enlightenment outpaced the extremists, becoming relatively stronger than the Muslim states opposing them.  While Islamist extremists attacked Christians visiting the holy sites in Jerusalem during the High Middle Ages, leading to the Crusades, the conflict in no way threatened the way of life in Europe.  Jihadists have always been a threat, but only in recent years have they begun to become a threat to Western Civilization.  The United States faced radical Islam for as long as we have been a nation.  President Thomas Jefferson oversaw the creation of the first American Navy because our sailors were being captured and the Jizyah, (ransom) was just too expensive for the young nation to afford.  President Jefferson sent the United States Marines to crush the extremist.  Even as a young nation, America was able to keep the Islamists at bay.

In our world today, whether to obtain cheap oil, to buy off Arabic leaders from whom we wanted something, or to buy friendship from Arabic leaders to promote us in our dealings on the world stage, we have transferred trillions of dollars in wealth to the Middle East. These dollars have then in turn been used to fuel radical Islam all over the world.  Considering Western dependence on oil, and the debt levels in the West, how secure to you currently feel that Europe and America remains capable of a robust defense of our culture?

Considering where the world is today, the West has fueled Islamic extremism with petro-dollars and economic aid for decades. While the world has witnessed, or if you prefer Mr. Obama’s term, “managed” Islamic extremism throughout history, the real question is this: Are Europeans and Americans too war-weary, too divided, and too in debt to repel the current conquest by Islamic extremism?  No one wants to consider if radical Islam is coming for them, but if one considers the radical Islamist’s perspective, is there a time in recent history when the West was weaker or radical Islamists were stronger?  If you are the enemy and want to see a Caliphate come to pass, if not now, when?

Yes, the West has seen Islamic extremism before in the world, and the West was able to defeat it. However today’s world is different.  Today Western nations are all but bankrupt, and like Rome in antiquity, the West has over extended itself.  Americans and Europeans do not wish to engage in a battle of civilization.  For this reason, instead of facing the world as it is, Mr. Obama choses to put on a dog and pony show.  He puts on a play for the world stage designed to give comfort and to assuage Americans demand for justice.  Unfortunately, if you look at the world from an Islamist’s point of view, Islamic extremists have never been stronger, and the West is divided and weak, unwilling to do what it takes to defend itself.  If the American way of life is to survive, Western nations will have to become serious about the threat we all face.  Western nations must become energy independent, and we must be realistic about the threats we all face.  To win a battle for civilization, the West will have to find a way to unite on key concepts, namely that a battle for civilization is being waged and to retain freedom the West will have to fully engage in the battle to win it.

Additional Resources:  Warning – Graphic Content




Nuclear Option

Last week the senate controlled by the Democrats took the unprecedented step of changing senate rules so that judicial appointments now only require fifty-one votes to be confirmed.  For the past two hundred and fifty years that threshold has been sixty votes.  Watching the news last week, I noticed political pundits went on extensively about the meaning and impact of this unprecedented step.  While the change may not seem earthshaking, the results in coming years will be profound.  Regardless of the consequences of this action, only pundits and true political wonks will care, I fear.  The true impact however takes place after it’s too late to do anything to stop it.

Before going into the ramifications that this naked power grab represents; I think that it is worthwhile to define what the rule change is and what is impacted.  First of all, the rule change only effects presidential appointments, excluding the Supreme Court of the United States.  In other words the filibuster is still in place with regard to other legislation and the Supreme Court must still follow the traditional path with regard to constitutional requirement that the senate provide its advice and consent.  For this reason, I have had a couple of people ask me what difference it really makes.  Doesn’t a president deserve the right to appoint the nominees of his choosing?  Didn’t the Republican Party under President George Bush threaten to do the exact same thing for exactly the same reason? Generally, all things being equal, I would say that a president does deserve his nominees and yes, the Republicans did threaten to do the same thing.

The problem I have with these two points is that all things are not in fact equal.  For one thing, today the United States has a seventeen-trillion dollar debt, civil liberties are being destroyed, the federal government is ignoring the US Constitution, and the true unemployment rate is over thirteen percent, with young black males suffering the worst with over twenty-eight percent unemployment.  For another, the Republicans threatened to change the rules, but anyone who is paying attention is aware that they didn’t change the rules, did they?  Mr. Bush was guilty of pushing unwanted government on Americans too, but the current occupant of the White House is doubled down on Mr. Bush’s federal government over-reaches on an unprecedented scale.

The party in power has the absolute right to do a lot of things while they rule.  This rule change could have been enacted at any time in our history, yet it wasn’t.  The United States Senate operated under the sixty vote filibuster rule through the Civil War, both world wars, the Vietnam War, and the War on Terror.  I hardly think that any of these periods in American history were without controversy or disagreement regarding presidential appointments.  The problem as I see it today is that the world is approaching a nexus in history.  Although I believe that life’s pressures do cause history to repeat itself, we are not on a merry-go-round, we are in fact moving through time in a linear manner.  Key events do matter.

The problem with the Democrat Party taking this action now is that it unveils a clear strategy on their part to rule with no regard to the wishes of millions or American citizens.  This rule change will allow the President to change the makeup of the court, and or the ability to seat truly radical federal judges that will be in their positions for life.  Let me ask you something.  Is it a good idea or a bad idea to allow a president who has repeatedly expressed the willingness to go around congress with executive order the ability to stack the courts with appointees that may well support his extra-constitutional excesses?  The framers of the constitution specifically split power up amongst three branches and between the federal government and the states for a reason.  Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

It seems to me that Rome went down a very similar path.  The Romans fought for freedom, established a republic, and became wildly successful.  Then, after a few generations of being the world’s only super-power, the culture became decadent.  Larger and larger numbers of Romans began to feel disenfranchised and the upper classes becoming lazy as the work ethic declined.  Eventually, it just didn’t mean that much to later generations to be a Roman citizen.  The moral decline in Rome is obvious.  We can see it represented in literature, and in public events such as took place in the Coliseum.  In a word, Roman lifestyles were more and more about instant gratification, gratuitous sex, and violence.  Any of this sound familiar?

Productivity declined causing the relative cost of government and the military to skyrocket.  Supporting the bloated cost of regulation and security became an ever increasing burden to the middle class, yet the entitlement culture in Rome demanded ever-increasing benefits, exacerbating Rome’s problems.  As it is today, some sectors of Roman society were under taxed while others faced confiscatory taxation.  It is today as it was then, all too easy to distract the masses by fomenting economic class warfare, pitting the rich against the poor.  Citizen’s allegiance to Rome diminished, and many supported the rise of a strong-man government over the individual responsibility inherent in a republic.

My point in this little jaunt through history is that when a culture declines it becomes very attractive for the ruling class to change the rules when events begin to become unmanageable.  Phoenix Republic is about western culture becoming unmanageable because it is simply too broken in too many places.  The culture in the twenty-first century United States is fragmented.  Millions of Americans feel that someone owes them something while millions more still cling desperately to the notions of individual, responsibility, and hard work.

By voting to change the filibuster rule with regard to appointments, the Democrats are poised to rubber-stamp judicial and senior administrative appointees with no consideration given to the minority party.  This move thus effectively silences the voices of millions of Americans who oppose Democrat’s progressive agenda of transforming this country.  In other words, I believe it’s credible to say that the United States is now transforming from a Republic into an Empire.  Every time the United States Constitution is disregarded for the sake of convenience or so-called safety, representative government is diminished.

Think about it.  How is an oligarchy of progressive leaders who dismiss the rights of citizens substantively different than the Roman Triumvirates that led to the end of that previous world super power?

Additional Resources: