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“America is the Roman Empire of the 21st Century”

Posted September. 24, 2002 22:57,   


The TV program that is the talk of the UK these days is the 6 parts documentary of the British 4TV that analyzed the Roman Empire. The viewers reminded America rather than Rome after the first episode ‘Rome: The Model Empire’ was aired on the 21st. A reporter of the British daily the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland, who produced the documentary insisted in his essay written for the Guardian on the 18th, “The scholars majored in ancient history also surprised by the similarity between Rome and America in their imperialistic characteristics.”

He said, “The term American Imperialism, which has been for progressionists until now, was accepted by the American conservatives after the 9.11 terror, and they even stressed the active role and responsibilities as an Empire.” The following are the similarities between America and Roman Empire appeared in ‘Rome: The Model Empire.’

We can easily know that they rule the world with military power and language (Latin and English). However the fact that there was an incident like the 9.11 terror happened in Rome was not well known. In 80 B.C., the King of Greece Misridates ordered to set a special day and kill all Romans in Greece. The Romans, who heard the news that 80,000 Romans were killed all over Greece, were shocked and asked the same question like the American media did after the 9.11 terror. “Why are we so hated?”

Rome did not conquer the world with a spearhead only, either. Like McDonald’s hamburgers, Starbucks coffee, Disney animations, and Coca Cola, the conquered people by Rome preferred the Roman style long coat (Toga), bath, and central heating system.

Like the CNN broadcasts the American military operations for 24 hours and spread fear for America, it put fear for power through the gladiators in the Coliseum in Roman period.

Every road led to Rome. If roads were the exit for Roman campaign and passage for industrial prosperity, the Internet, which was developed for military purposes by the US Department of Defense, is the modern road of Rome.

The diversity of people that America is proud of is not unique in America. Rome also comprehended all race of the world and created a diverse society. Although a black US President has not been elected yet, there was a black Emperor from North Africa Septimius Seberus in Rome.

Of course, America does not have any colony. However, America has military bases or rights to use bases in around 40 countries, and is sending troops in 132 countries out of the 190 UN member countries. Security of military bridgeheads is the modern management of colonies.

During the Roman period, they entrust with local people to manage the colonies. In Sussex, England, Tosidubnus became the head of the pro-Roman puppet government, and although there were huge demonstrations against Rome in other areas of England, Sussex was an exception. It reminds us the Egyptian President Hossni Muvarak and the Pakistani President Perbez Musaraf, who hold down the anti-American feelings in their countries.

The fact that the power, which was supported by Rome once, grew as rebels against Rome is similar to the fact that once pro-American the Iraqi President Sadam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden, who was trained by the US CIA, changed to anti-American.

The Americans, who acquired independence against the British Empire, have denial feeling of calling America as an Empire. Above all, the fact that Rome collapsed is the main reason to refuse to be compared with Rome. The anti-Americanists insist that the attack of Iraq by America is same as the excessive demonstration of power that led Rome to fall. However, whether America now is in the beginning of the Roman Empire or at the end can be answered only by the historians of the future.

Eun-Taek Hong euntack@donga.com