The Un-Apologetic Atheist: The United States of Rome

The United States of Rome

From this interview with Boston Globe columnist James Carroll, former Catholic priest and anti-Vietnam activist, a couple of thoughts:

When George W Bush responded to the crisis of 9/11, two things came into play: his own temperament - his ideological impulses which were naive, callow, dangerous, Manichaean, triumphalist - and the structure of the American government, which was 60 years in the making. What's not sufficiently appreciated is that Bush had few options in the way he might have responded to 9/11.

What was called for was vigorous diplomatic activity centered around cooperative international law enforcement, but our government had invested little of its resources in such diplomatic internationalism in the previous two generations. What we had invested in since World War II was massive military power, so it was natural for Bush to turn first to a massive military response. The meshing of Bush's temperament and a long-prepared American institutional response was unfortunate, but there it was. As somebody said, when he turned to his tool bag to respond to the mosquito of Osama bin Laden, the only tool he had in it was a hammer, so he brought it down on Afghanistan and destroyed it; then he brought it down on Iraq and destroyed it, missing the mosquito, of course...

We're not sufficiently attuned to the fact that we of the West are descended from the Roman Empire. It still exists in us. The good things of the Roman Empire are what we remember about it - the roads, the language, the laws, the buildings, the classics. We're children of the classical world. But we pay very little attention to what the Roman Empire was to the people at its bottom - the slaves who built those roads; the many, many slaves for each citizen; the oppressed and occupied peoples who were brought into the empire if they submitted, but radically and completely smashed if they resisted at all...

The Un-Apologetic Atheist: The United States of Rome


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