2002 November 13 Wednesday
John Hawkins Interviews Victor Davis Hanson

The interview covers a variety of topics including the question of whether the United States is an Empire:

John Hawkins: There have been frequent comparisons of late between the United States and the Roman Empire. How valid do you think those comparisons are? Why so?

Victor Davis Hanson: Politically they are absurd. We do not send proconsuls to demand taxes to pay for basing troops. In fact we do the opposite--pay lavishly for bases that protect others. The imperial senate was impotent, and civil war was common after AD 200 -- we have a stable Congress and little strife. For all the European venom, George Bush is not a Caracalla or even Diocletian. The classical topos of luxus, decadence brought about by affluence and leisure -- read Petronius, Suetonius, or Juvenal -- well, that is a real concern. Self-loathing and smug cynicism from an elite are the first symptoms and we see that clearly among those pampered and secure, who nevertheless ridicule the very system under which they operate in such a privileged fashion -- most notably in the arts, on the campuses, and in the media. A Jessica Lange or Barbra Streisand is right out of a Petronian banquet or perhaps sounds like a Flavian princess spouting off at dinner before returning to Nero's Golden House. Norman Mailer is a modern day Eumolpus bellowing on spec, and a Michael Moore a court-jester brought in to stick his tongue out at his benefactors for their own sick amusement.

Update: Hanson's recent NRO essay on "The bankruptcy of the anti-Americanists" is worth a read:

So we have at last arrived at Cloudcuckooland: A hierarchal United States military is more tolerant of liberals in its ranks than liberal universities are of their critics on campus. Republicans support dangerous interventions abroad to remove dictators and free oppressed peoples, as leftist dissidents agitate for hands-off mass murderers and medieval theocrats. A democratic Israel is slandered as imperialistic and fascistic while an authoritarian Palestinian regime is given a pass for theft, murder, and torture. And liberals, women, and homosexuals are saved in Afghanistan thanks to the work of Air Force pilots and special forces, as reactionary fundamentalists and thugs seek to hold onto their autocracy in part by finding solace with anti-American leftists. Who would have ever thought that democratic Iraqis would seek our military's help, while agents of Saddam Hussein would line up to find solidarity with those now marching?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 November 13 07:20 PM  Civilizations Clash Of


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