The End of the Pax Romana: Decline of an Empire?

The End of the Pax Romana: Decline of an Empire?

By José Javier Matamala García

It is imperative to return to the path of good sense and prudence, rescue the moral values ​​of mutual respect and coexistence, replace the reason of force with the force of reason and learn to build a world where tolerance and multiculturalism are the foundations for the construction of a stable and united global village.

"Violence is the last resort of the incompetent."
Isaac asimov

In the 2nd century AD some fifty million people, spread over three continents - Africa, Asia and Europe - lived peacefully and prosperously in a multiracial society, during the time of greatest expansion and splendor of the Roman world. The Roman Pax, which had lasted for two centuries, began to crumble with Marcus Aurelius, who embarked the empire in four wars during the two decades that his tenure lasted (161-180). For some historians this was the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire that would disappear as such, like any other of the great powers that have existed, under the rule of Constantine.

The history of humanity is full of situations like the one described above and it is an open book for those who want to read it. The experience accumulated by our ancestors, their successes and their mistakes, seem to play an uncomfortable, almost irreverent role, when the present loses its memory and begins to complete the circle in that kind of curse that seems to urge us to repeat it.

Any analysis of international relations today inexorably passes through two distant situations in time and space, but at the same time intimately linked in terms of their global impact on the recently launched third millennium. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the attacks of September 11 constitute two turning points with such considerable specific weight as to change the reality of the present and form part of future texts on the contemporary history of humanity.

The dismemberment of the USSR represented an unprecedented change in the policy of confrontational blocs that emerged at the end of World War II. After decades of an anachronistic "cold war", faced with the confrontation of two antagonistic ideological and political systems, and with the sword of Damocles turned into a permanent nuclear threat, the collapse of the "Soviet Empire" and the subsequent disappearance of the Warsaw Pact opened a A hopeful panorama full of social changes, which until then were completely unimaginable.

The reunification of Germany, the emancipation of Eastern European nations and the formation of the Russian Confederation itself, established a radically different scenario from the previous one, where the rivalry between the two military giants of the planet gradually disappeared, as did the apocalyptic images of the "radioactive fungus" that accompanied the generations that we live directly this process.

However, what was sensed as a rethinking of values ​​in the field of global relations gave way to the hegemonic consolidation of the United States, as a military and political power on the planet. From that moment on, the American giant no longer only practices an imperialist policy, but proclaims itself an "empire" and ceases to be a power to become a "arrogance." The most radical neoliberalism is establishing itself as the ideological basis of the new empire and, in parallel with this, "corporate globalization". Aware of its military and economic power, the US does not hesitate to impose its criteria in front of the world community and to raise the flag of "freedom" in defense of its own interests. As in ancient Rome, the legions are deployed through the different colonies and their generals remain attentive to the orders of the Caesar on duty. An overseas army of two and a half million soldiers perfectly armed and ready for combat anywhere on the planet, in addition to having the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction known in the history of mankind.

Since the end of World War II, US military interventions abroad have been incessant and unmatched by any other country in the world. The internal interference in other States in the form of coups, attacks and terrorism that have been carried out directly or indirectly - with military financing or advice - also stands out in their own light on all continents. Among the "beneficiary" countries are Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Philippines, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Cuba, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Chile, Argentina , Grenada Island, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Somalia, Zaire, Zambia, Liberia, Sudan, Palestine, Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, or South Africa, among others. It seems that we do not want to remember the barbarism of Vietnam where napal and chemical bombs, then used, still continue to wreak havoc, in the form of malformations, on the population that was born after the conflagration. Few know of the more than 200,000 deaths in Guatemala just two decades ago - mainly indigenous people - in one of the least commented holocausts or of the more than 150,000 Iraqi deaths in the Gulf War, which were never broadcast by CNN and, for that matter, therefore, they do not exist. The enriched uranium bombs used in the Gulf War and in Yugoslavia, or the cluster bombs in Afghanistan, are also no longer news.

The collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the attack on the Pentagon, as a result of the heinous attacks of September 11, have produced a radicalization in US policy both foreign and domestic. The empire was attacked for the first time in its history within American soil and the pride of "arrogance" cried out "infinite justice." From this moment on, the most puerile Manichaeism has taken over the arguments of the White House, where a fascist regime has been installed, which abhors the most basic questions of humanity and seeks in the exacerbation of an outdated patriotism and fear fostered by the means at the disposal of power, the justification of its militaristic and authoritarian policy.

However, there are many unknowns still pending regarding the preparation and execution of these attacks. It has been publicly declared by senior US intelligence officials that they had detailed information about the training as pilots on US soil of the Camicaces who crashed the planes. This seems evident since the preparation of an attack of this size and with the degree of sophistication with which it was carried out, could not go unnoticed.

On the other hand, the supposed plane crashed in the Pentagon still continues to constitute an enigma and the remains of the device still do not appear in any image. A "conspiracy theory" has even been proposed, where the US government would have consciously allowed these terrorist acts to take place.

What a priori seems a macabre and incredible argument could, however, have a historical background. This incident has been consistently compared to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which, according to some US analysts, was due to a deliberate "mistake" in acting and stopping said bombing by the Roosevelt administration, which aimed to create the atmosphere. enough national outrage to participate directly in World War II.

The "war against terrorism" that begins in Afghanistan is nothing more than a tremendous cover for the empire's dark political, military, geostrategic and, above all, economic interests.

The invasion of Afghanistan after September 11, with the supposed intention of capturing and eliminating Osama Bin Laden and the terrorist group Al Qaeda, corresponds to a strategic plan planned from Washington years before the attacks and whose true intentions are quite different. The main objectives are the control and channeling of fossil fuels from Central Asia that have been in the sights of the empire after the collapse of the USSR, through North American oil multinationals, creating an open door to the Pacific through the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, in addition to Afghanistan. The installation of military bases in an area of ​​high strategic interest for the control of the Middle East, and the colonization of the republics of the former Soviet Union, complete the real objectives of this invasion.

The puppet government imposed by the empire in Afghanistan and made up of the "warlords" is still as heinous as the Taliban. Systematic violation of human rights, tyranny, annulment of women as an element of society, public stoning, misery and famine, once again place this country on the brink of an unfinished civil war, after more than two decades of continuous internal confrontations and external. The empire has never really cared about the problems of this State, nor of all those it has "blessed with the imposition of its freedoms." What matters are the benefits obtained and for the current US government the end always justifies the means.

Within this warmongering framework, perhaps one of the most "endearing" historical moments has been Russia's entry into NATO. We may never know the billions of dollars that this setup will have cost, but Putin has wasted no time and has begun to massacre the Chechen population again, while the world looks the other way and the empire's newscast - CNN - does not echo the news.

It is curious that the entire US intelligence apparatus has been unable to capture Osama bin Laden, whose enigmatic messages always appear at opportune moments and key to keeping the flame of hatred and revenge alive among the population. Dead or alive, captured or free, it seems that keeping the latent ghost of this man, trained by the CIA and a close associate of the same for years, is justification enough to continue his search, even if it means bombing and destroying entire countries with the pretext of definitively dismantling the terrorist group Al Qaeda. In any case, it is paradoxical that the CIA, through other agencies such as the ISI, recruited more than 100,000 radical extremists to fight the Soviet army during its occupation of Afghanistan.

After the devastation of Afghanistan, the empire continues to survey and outline new battlefields for the deployment of its legions. The "axis of evil", a crude copy of the "empire of evil" devised by the military advisers of the Reagan government, appears initially constituted by Iraq, Iran and North Korea, although names such as Cuba, Yemen, Libya or Sudan were already being pointed out , which are considered by the Secretary of State as potential enemies and where the military actions of the US would have full legitimacy. As the prestigious Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano affirms, "As things are going, from now on, any person who does not walk on their knees will be guilty of terrorism, even if the opposite is proven."

But Bush's insane "preventive policy" doesn't end there. Currently 62 countries are on the list of "not gratos" for the empire, so they could be attacked without warning. As reported by the American newspaper Los Angeles Times on March 9 of this year, the Bush administration asked the Pentagon to manufacture atomic weapons with "reduced" destructive potential, as well as to carry out attack plans against at least seven countries, where they would use this type of nuclear device. In this sense, Cesar's speech at West Point was quite clear and resounding in expressing his determination to attack, using weapons of mass destruction - the exclusive privilege of the empire and its faithful colonies - any country with the capacity to carry out terrorist actions. . The US has truly assumed its role as a hegemonic power that openly despises international law and that of the peoples.

This arrogant character and regardless of any respect for international agreements and conventions has grown exponentially since September 11, although the antecedents in this regard already have a long history in the empire. Some of the actions that reveal this attitude include the refusal to ratify the Kyoto Convention, the Biological Diversity Convention, the Biosafety Protocol, the Total Nuclear Test Ban treaty, the protocol to verify the application of the treaty. that prohibits biological weapons, the treaty for the prohibition of antipersonnel mines or the refusal to apply the Geneva convention to Al Qaeda prisoners in Guantánamo, among many others, in addition to the permanent boycott of a large part of the proposals related to defense of human rights presented at the UN.

Special mention deserves the refusal of the USA to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which entered into force on June 1 of this year and which will extradite and prosecute those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. What's more, the empire has reached illegal agreements with five countries - East Timor, Israel, Romania, Tajikistan and Honduras - to guarantee impunity for US citizens.

US domestic politics have created, in addition to a state of collective paranoia, an unimaginable situation in this country that has boasted of its social and individual freedoms. What began with ridiculous prohibitions against the broadcast of a long list of "subversive songs", such as Image by John Lennon, has been transformed into a persecution against all those people or organizations that maintain divergent criteria from the policy established by the empire. Thus, the FBI considers some anti-globalization and socialist groups as "terrorist associations", not because they are or have been linked to any type of crime, but only because of their ideology.

"Ending" the war on Iraq declared by "Bush Senior" in the early 1990s has now become the main goal and obsession of his insightful son. However, this active and passive war has never ended. Violations of the exclusion parallels by US warplanes and their bombardments of "military targets" have been a constant ever since. But undoubtedly much more serious has been the trade blockade and sanctions that have plunged this country into misery and famine. In 1996, the US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, was asked her opinion about the death, until that year, of more than five hundred thousand Iraqi children due to malnutrition and diseases linked to famine, due to sanctions. imposed by the empire against this country after the Gulf War; his answer was emphatic and enlightening: "we believe it is a price worth paying."

As a counterpoint, it is worth highlighting the shocking letter addressed to President Bush by Robert Bowan, Catholic bishop and US Army Lieutenant Colonel in June of this year, where he states: "instead of continuing to kill thousands of Iraqi children daily with our economic sanctions , we should help Iraqis rebuild their power plants, their water treatment stations, their hospitals, and all the other things that we destroy and prevent them from rebuilding with economic sanctions. Instead of training terrorists and death squads, we should shut down the School of the Americas ".

According to the White House, there is irrefutable evidence of the possession of weapons of mass destruction in this country, despite the fact that former UN inspector in Iraq Scott Ritter has publicly accused Donald Rumsfeld - US Secretary of Defense - of "lying" to world public opinion by ensuring that Iraq has underground factories for the production of this type of weapon. The truth is that they are only conjecture and there is no evidence to prove these accusations, despite the fact that Proconsul Tony Blair and his intelligence services try to draw water from a dry well. "The absence of evidence does not prove the absence" is the "compelling argument" of Donald Rumsfeld, one of the most furious supporters of initiating the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Hussein as soon as possible.

The visit announced for October by the UN inspectors is of little use, nor the acceptance of the resolutions imposed by the Iraqi government, or the reluctance of some of the members of the "international alliance against terrorism." The empire has already decided for all who is the number one enemy of humanity and they will "defend the collective interests" by overthrowing the government of Saddam Hussein by force. The legions are already deployed and it only takes Caesar's order to start acting, in all likelihood before the November elections in the US So soon we will see the same ghostly images of the Baghdad sky on television screens. , illuminated by anti-aircraft batteries and exploding ballistic missiles. There will be no blood, this has already been learned by the Americans since the Vietnam War, only that shown by the "enemy" in the face of "collateral damage."

The political and economic consequences of this situation may be much more serious than a priori expected. On the one hand, the international coalition against terrorism has shed its leaves and not precisely because of the arrival of autumn. Most of the countries that comprised it are not willing to participate in an unjustified war, declared by the empire that unilaterally proclaims itself as the hegemonic power of the planet, ignoring international law and relations and publicly humiliating the UN. The unconditional support of the British proconsul has been joined by that of the consuls of Hispania and Italy, and of some group of barbarians from the North - Poland - against the majority opinion of their own citizens whom they supposedly represent. This situation reveals once again the true chaos in the EU's foreign policy, which is unable to maintain joint criteria and which continues with an ancestral dynamic of particular interests. On the other hand, the economic consequences in the medium term are unpredictable and the collapse of the stock markets may be one of the most immediate effects. What is evident is that the aid destined for the "third world" and the agreements established with developing countries will automatically pass to a hidden and silent plane, disrupting the legitimate aspirations of these peoples.

The live broadcast of the commemorative acts of September 11, broadcast by practically all of the world's media, has served to establish the appropriate climate of indignation among the American population that is not going to question the decisions of Cesar and his Praetorian Guard, although there are many missing links on the origin of these attacks, as has already been commented. The objectives are clear: to overthrow Saddam's government, impose a puppet and maintain control over the country that has the largest oil reserves on the planet. In reality it is a "strategy game", planned to the millimeter from the Pentagon and already negotiated with the American oil multinationals.

In this sense, it seems important to point out some little-known aspects of the National Energy Plan -PNE- presented by President Bush in May of last year, which proposes a 50% growth in the import of oil for its internal consumption in the United States. .UU .. The US professor Michael Klare, a specialist in world security, affirms in his article entitled "global petropolitics" that to achieve these aims, interference in the producing countries will be necessary, both politically and financially, as well as in the military. It is curious that the main oil-producing areas -or with reserves of these fossil deposits- coincide with some countries in the "axis of evil" -and a polygon of "n" sides- located in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The PNE is a tool to justify any intervention by the world's leading power throughout the planet, to guarantee its political supremacy and its current growth rate regardless of the rest of these countries.

The recent coup against the government of Hugo Chávez, which was supported and designed by the US, is proof of this type of "interference." Venezuela ranks third in terms of countries that feed the empire with oil. However, oil is controlled in this country by the State, which is a tremendous detriment to North American multinationals. In neighboring Colombia, guerrilla attacks against pipelines and energy infrastructures limit and disrupt the increase in imports by the US The US "collaboration" with the armed forces of this country through Plan Colombia, multiplied during In recent months through the "fight against terrorism", it has pursued an obvious objective: to reduce rebel activity to increase oil production.

Ultimately, it is imperative to return to the path of good sense and prudence, rescue the moral values ​​of mutual respect and coexistence, replace the reason of force with the force of reason and learn to build a world where tolerance and multiculturalism be the foundations for the construction of a stable and united global village. It is not utopia; it just depends on each and every one of us. In any case, there is no more beautiful fight than that which is undertaken against the irremediable

* By José Javier Matamala García
Article published at

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