Pompey Day

Pirates

Sept 29th is undoubtedly Pompey Day.  Pompey the Great (Magnus) was born on Sept 29th 106 BC.  He was murdered on the orders of Ptolemy in Egypt on Sept 28th 48 BC.  In 61 BC on Sept 29th he celebrated his third and final triumph, for his victory against the pirates.  Organising a triumph on his birthday was an indication of the sway held by Pompey in Rome.  At the height of his power he was a man who could not be denied.

This campaign was a phenomenon of the time.  Pompey secured proconsular Imperium over the Mediterranean Sea and all land for 50 miles from the coast.  This put Pompey above every other governor and general in the Roman world.  It made him the most powerful man in the world.

Furthermore, it made him one of the richest men in the world.  The “War against the Pirates” had a lot in common with the current american “War on Terror”.  The “enemy” is a fluid quantity.  Pirate fleets had arrangements with rulers and Roman provincial governors all across the Mediterranean.

Pompey cleaned out some of the most annoying pirate fleets and stabilised trade across the Mare Nostrum.  He then brokered deals with pirate captains and local rulers the length and breadth of the sea.  They became his clients, under his protection, and they paid tribute to him.

So Pompey made a fortune and the people of Rome celebrated him as a war hero.  I wonder if the Bush family studied the classics?

Within 10 years the scourge of piracy was as bad as ever.

War on Terror

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On this day, Sept 29th in the year 61 BC Pompey the Great celebrated his third and final triumph for his victories over the Pirates and Mithridates.  His war against the Pirates is seen by many to be the Roman equivalent of the “War on Terror”.  Basically an elaborate political sham which sets up an un-winnable conflict which results in putting a lot of money in the hands of a small number of individuals, and securing political positions for a number of years.

Pompey used the “War on Pirates” to secure his most extraordinary command ever.  He was given pro-consular imperium over all of the seas from Gibraltar to Judea, and over the coastlines for 50 miles inland in every province, for the purpose of “hot pursuit” of pirates.  This gave him senior authority over the governors of the coastal provinces for the purpose of this campaign.

He ostensibly swept the seas free of pirates, making him the “First man in Rome” and securing for him the juicy task of the war in the East against the fabulously rich empire of Mithridates.  In reality Pompey drove many of the “Pirates” out of their towns and cities, and then negotiated with them for their “peaceful” return as loyal subjects of Rome.  This status involved payment of hefty fines and tributes to Pompey and his Legates.

It was nothing if not a masterstroke.  I wonder, what was the Roman equivalent of Halliburton and Lockheed-Martin?

The truth is, the so called “war on terror” is simply the realisation of George Orwell’s 1984.  The principle that “War is Peace”.  By keeping the populace focused on a constant shifting state of war, against an enemy that is impossible to beat, those who wield power can quash any serious attempt to oust them from their positions.  If the opposition organise in any meaningful way, simply raise the “threat level” to orange and red, drive through some new law, and arrest the leaders as terrorists.

The trigger for the ancient Romans was the grain supply.  For modern Americans the trigger is the oil supply.  It costs a lot of public money to keep those privately owned oil tankers running.  The working man pays taxes to keep an aircraft carrier on station in the straits of Hormuz.  As long as the oil flows the oil barons continue to line their wallets.  They make political donations in the right places to keep the wheels greased.

So what happens if the environmental groups lobby for better energy management and for the US to be energy solvent?

You can get the CIA or FBI or Secret Service to blow up a large public building in New York you will have a queue of terrorist organisations lining up to claim responsibility.  If you don’t find one even better, make one up.  You can spend decades trying to track down a terrorist organisation that never existed.

As long as people look to the sky in fear of the next attack they will not worry about pithy concerns like gas mileage, CO2 production, low level ozone, blower tests or deep water drilling.

War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.………………………………….George Orwell