Friday, December 6, 2013

Didn't we do this already?

The topic of today's post will be a little out of the mold again, my mind has been all over the place in terms of my historical love interest. You are all the benefactors as I proceed to spew the mind stew across this, my digital canvass.

Marines at Hamburger Hill
I have been thinking a great deal about the Vietnam War.  This single conflict saw more than a  half a million men ground into the jungles of a country that for all intents and purposes had really very little appearent value. I have written a few papers about how I lost my "innocence" as to the purity of America's intentions and this has me on a kick to look at the events that would cause a country to invade in such a way...I mean, why Vietnam?

What other countries and civilizations have done the same thing? Is the tired old colloquialism "Those that do not read history are destined to repeat it" really so true? Where shall I start my attempt at converting you? Persia. Yeah, thats the place. An empire that by all accounts was one of the greatest in history, but why are they now reduced to a handful of bickering Islamic states that all hate the US? It stated long ago when the God Kings still sat on the golden thrones at Persepolis.

Xerxes - the Beneficent God-King
You see, the Persians, like many other nations in history became a little too big for their shorts and needed some "leg room". They began expanding and conquering as they went. Within a few hundred years they had conquered everything from the Indus River valley to the Caspian Sea, from the Urals to the Red Sea. Their empire incorporated more than a thousand different tribes, all with different cultures, customs and languages and what happened? They got bogged down in a costly war with a foreign power of little to no evident resources. Wasnt that the reason you expanded though? to gain resources to grow your empire?

Picts - Progenitors of the Scots
Greece had no real resources that Persia didn't already have in spades, yet they wasted hoards of men at the battles of Salamis, Marathon, Thermopylae and Platea, all where the Greeks, knowing their own territory, were able to use it to full advantage. The Persians tried to quell the Greek "savages" and the result of their taming exercise? The Savages won. The Persian empire fell apart and the bones were picked clean by the Egyptians and Romans. Persia's Vietnam was Greece.

Goths - Not the kind that cut themselves while listening to techno emo music.
The Sacking of Rome
So as Persia falls, Rome rises. Rome grew out of humble beginnings, they conquered the Etruscans and quickly set about uniting the peninsula under the rule of the Republic. Their unique form of government was a threat, the voice of the people dictated the mood of the empire and a nation born of war often suffers with that malady for its entire existence. Rome conquered countless peoples expanding from Gibraltar to Jerusalem, but their Vietnam was in the far reaches of Britania and Germania. These "barbarians" would be the death of an empire as thousands of gold denari and millions of men would be butchered in the fog covered hills of Britain and the tree covered mountains of Germany. Their pride led them to expand and their expansion spelled their doom. The Barbarians united and within 200 years of the conquest of Germania and Britania , Rome was looted by Vandals, Goths and Huns.

Overconfidence, greed and racism lead to the downfall of two great empires, but does it stop there? Join me next week as I look into more empire breaking events across history. 

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