Sunday, July 22, 2007

Varus – Or: To Each Rome Its Own Teutoburg

If you know Rome, you know the name “Varus” and the “Germanic Tribes”, signifying the end of Rome, and you certainly know the famous words “Quinctili Vare, legiones redde!”. You know the “Battle of Teutoburg Forest” and maybe “Kalkriese”, but do you know “Waldgirmes”?

“Waldgirmes” is the modern name of a Roman “starting city”, abandoned after the disaster in Teutoburg.

After Teutoburg, anything was different for Rome. History was changed:

Roman Empire:
”Being cautious, Augustus secured all territories west of Rhine and contented himself with retaliatory raids. The rivers Rhine and Danube became the permanent borders of the Roman empire in the North.”

Battle of the Teutoburg Forest:
”The battle abruptly ended the period of triumphant and exuberant Roman expansion that had followed the end of the Civil Wars 40 years earlier. Augustus' stepson Tiberius took effective control, and prepared for the continuation of the war. Rome gradually slid into a period of tyranny and oppression lasting much of the rest of the first century.”

Each Empire, like each other Schoolyard Bully, needs the Smell of Death around it, needs the fear instilled even by its name, needs the aura of invincibility – and exactly that Arminius took away. It wasn’t only the fact, that the other people noticed that Rome was defeatable...

Publius Quinctilius Varus:
”So great was the shame, and the ill luck thought to adhere to the numbers of the Legions, that XVII, XVIII and XIX never again appear in the Roman Army's order of battle.”

Rome never forgot Teutoburg and the “Bello Variano” – never was able again to believe its own fairy tale of invincibility.

Teutoburg taught the Romans, that no one ever can forever create an Empire based on believings. And don’t think that Varus was an idiot – he just has to pay the price for ignorance, because ignorance is not always a bliss. Empires are based on power and power is based on control, but to control systems, intelligence and knowledge is much more important than force.

Rome did know that – Rome perfectly, maybe intuitively knew, that brute force isn’t a tool for politics, isn’t a working strategy for society, because you always don’t have to control the direct impact but the consequences, and the consequences of the consequences and the....

and the more force you push into a system, the more interactions and consequences you have to control. To get in power, brute force might work – as long as destruction is your goal, the destruction of the power of the "enemy", but to stay in power, destruction is only counterproductive, because the destruction might easily be the destruction of YOUR power. Remember Croesus, Pythia and the river Halys?

Enters “Waldgirmes”...

The starting city, proving “Phase II”. After the conquest and suppression of the “new land” by brute force and overwhelming destruction, the “redevelopment plan” comes into focus. And this simply means: Build “Second Romes” everywhere, buy the people with luxury and goods and marketplaces, while demanding taxes and compensation for all the fine things – and especially demanding obeisance and slavish obedience.

You surely know “Life of Brian”? Remember the “What have the Romans ever done for us?” sketch?

Doesn’t that sound very familiar? Very modern?

First kill, than cash?

Doesn’t remind you “Waldgirmes” of the plans to get the Iraq oil? First maim their children, then buy their souls with the American Way of Life?

Doesn’t that shed a new light on the comparisons of America with Rome? Rome as “role model” for the “PNAC”...

But for each Rome there is an Arminius – because the more power, the more to control and after a while it is impossible to know enough to control the system, so you become dependent...

dependent on your underlings...

dependent on their input...

Varus wasn’t an idiot, he just couldn’t learn everything about the new provinces he had to “civilize”. He had successfully subdued Syria and so got order to do the same with Provincia Germania. And he did his job, but never had the time to get to know the country and its people...

and he never learnt the language, the portal to the soul...

(reminds you also of Iraq?)

so he simply was dependent on someone who speaks the language and knows the culture...

as the Americans now need today...

and – think of the stories of “Mash” – needed translators and fraternizers since quite a while.

You see what i think? I think that Vietnam is the American Teutoburg, because it was the first time, America suffered “great shame” and for a while, power seemed to have lost its “power”.

But i guess the men of PNAC understood clearly, that invincibility is the foundation of an Empire – and that Augustinus acceptance of the fact, that Provincia Germania couldn’t be annexed by the Roman Way of Life, was the beginning of the end.

Battle of the Teutoburg Forest:
”Augustus' stepson Tiberius took effective control, and prepared for the continuation of the war. Rome gradually slid into a period of tyranny and oppression lasting much of the rest of the first century.”

I guess, Iraq might have had to serve a dual purpose: not only to make somebody money, but to get back invincibility.

But the men of PNAC forgot something very important – the belief in your invincibility cannot be restored by killing more human souls, the knowledge of the defeat will always be stronger.

So i guess, the men of PNAC will maybe learn, what Augustus had gained from cautiousness:


Time to recover, time to conquer others, time to stay in power – because Augustus knew that Rome could never stand a second Teutoburg.

And looking at the Green Zone, i guess, the men of PNAC now learn, how wise Augustus was.


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