|Roman Empire vs. United States Similarities (Harder Version)
How does the rise and fall of the Roman Empire in 365 A.D. compare with the US in the 21st century? There are many similarities between the American empire now and the Roman Empire then. Military strength is the most obvious. Like the Romans, the US has the best training, biggest budget, and finest equipment that the world has ever seen. Add the technological lead of the United States, and the US emerges as a serious superpower without rivals, just like Rome. Unlike early America however, the Romans understood that the art of winning wars and invading territories was not enough, as they also needed to stay in control of conquered territories.
As should be evident, the United States is more Roman then we realize, using Roman tactics to support its power. For example, during the Roman Empire, the Romans had great military strength; and the rest of the World undoubtedly knew that and feared Rome. Secondly, the Romans were known for their infrastructure (roads, bridges, aqueducts), built primarily to enable their military to move more quickly. Today those highways remind us of the Internet, which began as a military tool, and arguably is one of the most superior inventions of our time, bringing nations together in mere nanoseconds.
The United States appears to have taken these tips from their Roman counterparts. Rome realized that if they were to last as a World power, the Romans had to excel at both the art of winning wars, as well as the art of winning the culture wars because the Roman empire spanned continents and vast cultural divides. Rome’s greatest conquest was the seduction of its peoples. They would provide them with baths, and central heating as the people never realized that they were enslaved by such wonderful things. Today the US offers Starbucks, Wal-Mart for 24/7 shopping convenience, and Disneyland for entertainment, just to name a few.
The Roman and American models of government and capitalism are based on the ideas of progress through utilization of its work force, with the lure of the good life as an individual’s goal. If the process works, why use force? It is possible to rule by having others do the work for you, something similar to using a television remote control. You just simply choose the stations and watch how things play out. If you don’t care for that particular program you just change it until you successfully locate what you are looking for, which in many ways has contributed to this throwaway society that is the United States. This is no different than how the Romans viewed their conquered subjects. The United States does this technique with ease. Our foreign policy spreads American ideals with little thought to the political and economic differences in conquered societies. One need only look at the fiasco that is Iraq, and comment on the complete lack of foresight as to the necessary elements to unite a nation divided by numerous warring factions.
Interestingly, the fall of the Roman Empire occurred primarily due to a lack of foresight as well. Incorrectly, the Romans assumed that cultural, economic and social differences could be bridged by simply implementing the “Roman” way. Similarly, The United States with the Iraq war has learned that the “American” way does not always work. Simply put, there is an innate desire in humans to do things their own way, meaning that if one does not pay attention to the social and cultural fiber and essence of a people, ultimately any attempt to create a government or society that does not address these important aspects of society, that attempt will meet failure.
The foreign policy that the United States employs with China is similarly misguided. China is a socialist and communist country that is slowly turning its back on its soul and embracing it nemesis, capitalism. From the standpoint of the United States, the complete lack of morals when it comes to human rights violations only intensifies the demise of implementing “American ways” in a country that is so dissimilar and does not even value our basic inalienable rights. These examples only bolster the argument that the United States is embarking on a similar path as the Romans did at the end of their empire. Ultimately, the delicate political dance that is being played all over the World with the United States forcing it “way of life” on vastly dissimilar cultures will result in its ultimate demise.
Very similar to the Americanization of today’s world with McDonalds and Starbucks popping up in the most unlikely remote countries of the world, the Romans also put down “roots” all over their occupied territories and left their cultural and architectural footprint on the world. One need only to think about the magnificent Roman Villa built in southern England by a Roman ruler named Cogidubnus. Although the palace burnt down in 270 A.D., the Roman villa was carefully excavated by Barry Cuncliffe in 1960 and now serves as a museum and reminder of Roman wealth and prestige.
Lastly there are some vast differences between Rome and the United States. The United States was founded on rebellion against another empire, the British Empire, in the name of freedom and self government. Romans embraced their status as masters of the known world; however, few Americans would claim bragging rights on their own imperialism. Most of us would run for cover and hide in denial of American imperialism. The obvious paradox of a nation living in democracy with the ideals life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness stands in stark contrast to how the rest of the world views the United States as a nation forcing its way of life as a master on the rest of the world. As Americans, although we fear the parallel with the Roman Empire with its rise and fall, we are oblivious that we are indeed following the same path of destiny.
In conclusion, I have witnessed America’s might and I do not believe in the inevitable death and destruction that accompanies war justifies our greed. Instead of making peace and becoming a stronger nation, by our foreign policy militaristic actions, we are weakening the very fabric of our society. I also worry that like the Romans, we will fall if we continue with a simplistic foreign policy of Americanization of the World.
The one thing that could be done to permit the survival of democracy and those we cherish is to simply utilize our freedom of expression and freedom of speech to get the point across to our government. The one thing that could be done to permit the survival of democracy is to simply utilize our freedom of expression and freedom of speech to get this point across to our government, as I believe that the World and all peoples have the right to life, liberty and happiness, and that as citizens of the world we are obligated to protect these ideals.
1. What are two similarities between the US and Rome, according to the first paragraph? What Roman technology does the author compare the Internet to, and why does he do this?
2. Look at the bolded words. Put this sentence into your own words.
3. Why is it a bad idea to force someone’s ideas on another culture? According to the article, what happens when this is attempted?
4. What was Rome’s greatest conquest? Why does the author include Starbucks and Wal-Mart?
5. Why does the author include the example of the Roman villa in southern England?
6. What is a paradox?
7. Why do you think the US has had so much trouble fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
8. What is the author’s argument? Do you agree with it? Why or why not?
9. Respond to this article with a few sentences (3-4 sentences!) about your thoughts, concerns, or questions.
-You can tell me why this article is important to you or us as a country!
-You can tell me whether you agree with the author or not and explain why!
-You can offer your own and different opinion on the US and Rome!
-You can tell me why you don’t care about this article and explain!