Saturday, January 22, 2005

Comparison of Ancient Pirates and Terrorism:

"The quest for total security for some turns into total insecurity for the remainder."-Some jewish republican

1:For a long while, Pirates were kept in check by a rival superpower, until that super power’s defeat.

The Soviets and their allies helped to contain the forces of terrorism in the middle east until their defeat by the West (partially through supporting their terrorist enemies). Carthage suppressed pirate activity until its defeat in 146BCE after which piracy grew for about eighty years before Rome finally acted decisively to end it.

2:Piracy was tolerated by Rome because of its close relation to the primary source of energy of the time.

Piracy was closely tied to the slave trade, slaves being the steam engines of the agricultural revolution. Piracy was tolerated to create ample flows of slaves for Roman purchase (to work the grain fields of Sicily and North Africa). Terrorist sponsors are tolerated because of their relation to the oil trade.

3:Piracy was used by local powers to extend their influence.

By providing safe harbor for Pirates, Kings could share in the plunder and have a naval ally. Mithradates is known to have supplied and harbored pirates in his conflict with Rome. Mullah Omar and the Warlords of Somolia have done similar things with “terrorists”. FARC, ELN, Tamil Tigers, Shining Path, Abu Sayeff, Uzbek Islamic forces, and Basque separatists are all basically militias (to various degrees involved in the drug trade), labeled as terrorist groups by the State Department.

4:Rome was roused to find a solution to this former ally, grown into a problem, after it sacked Rome’s main port.

In 69BCE Ostia, port of Rome, was sacked by Pirates. Pompey was dispatched to the East in 67BCE. Ostia was encased with walls by 58BCE. NYC, I believe, is already blanketed with security cameras.

5:These pirate forces largely came from an area near an ideological center of thought and old civilization, though did not discriminate in their prey.

Cilicia Trachea was a center of pirate activity in SE Asia minor (near Crete). Jerusalem was a critic of Hellenism and later became a vocal critic of Roman hegemony. Jewish pirates are not unknown. In addition, the close association of pirates with Rome's political enemies no doubt produced at least lip service to some creed which is now lost to history. Al Queda’s primary foe is the Saudi Royal Family. They attack Saudi Arabia as well as Western targets.

6:In the process of denying these pirates safe harbor, basically decides that it cannot trust any remaining rivals to do their part to suppress piracy.

After subduing the pirates of Asia Minor, Pompey uses the authority granted him to eliminate the pirates to also end the Seleucid dynasty in Syria and the Hasmonean power in Israel. Piracy is cited as part of his reason to intervene in Israel (Chapter 3 paragraph 2, "and the piracies that had been at sea,"). No US parallel, yet.

7:In fact, ultimately the threat to Rome comes from the barbarian tribes of Europe who enthusiastically adopt much of Roman culture.

The Vandals, Visa and Ostra Goth tribes that ultimately evict Rome from Africa, Hispania, and Italia originally were Roman vassals protecting the Empire from raiders further North and East. They adopted much of Roman custom (eventually including the Christianity of the Romans, first as Aryans, then eventually as Roman Catholics). Where in your analysis of the United States’ enemies are Russia and China? Or are they allies in your opinion? China may occasionally scrutinize US cultural material because they fear their population will be exposed to US political propaganda, but they hardly have a problem with the vulgar aspects of our media. Depictions of violence and sex are not as dangerous to the Chinese as the depiction of positive US political messages, which of course have a military (morale) implication. I highly doubt the Communist Chinese are as worried by the ascent of Coca Cola (or perhaps more appropriately Marlboro, which has been unable to access the Chinese market until recently) as they are about US military hegemony (especially with regards to Taiwan). Plus if the Chinese could get all the Chinese to speak English, that would save them the trouble of teaching them Chinese. The US is currently building up a huge deficit with China, effectively turning them into our (currently willing) vassals by having them send us a tribute (the trade deficit).


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