In between researching for my dissertation and writing this blog, I try to take some time each day to read a book related to my latest intellectual interests.Â Currently, fascinated by the similarities one period in classical history, the fall of the Roman Republic, and my favorite period in American history, the founding of our republic, I am alternating between books on each period.
What amazes me is the sheer level of talent present at both those periods.Â Just as there was a greater concentration of some of the most gifted American leaders in the revolutionary period than at any other time in our history*, so was there a similar concentration of wise (but not always noble) Romans in the last years of their republic–and the first of their empire.
Of course, the contrast is that one nation saw its republic extinguished as it gained strength in the world while the other saw a republic born in circumstances adverse to the development of a new nation.
About the conspirators who assassinated CÃ¦sar now nearly 2,053 years ago in his Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician, Anthony Everitt writes that they had “no plans for the aftermath of the assassination:”
The Dictator had maintained, if only in form, the constitutional proprieties and Brutus and his friends judged that, once he had been removed, nobody would seriously try to prevent the Republic from slipping back into gear.Â Their assumption was that the constitution would simply and automatically resume its function.Â The Senate would have little difficulty in taking over the reins of power.Â This was not an unreasonable analysis and was confirmed in the event–for the time being.
History shows us how wrong that assumption was be. You need a strategy if you want to win.Â You can’t expect things to happen on their own.
One of the reasons George Washington succeeded where Marcus Brutus (and his fellow conspirators) failed is that he had a strategy for managing American losses in the Revolutionary War. And now via Jennifer Rubin, we learn that, in its current war against Hamas terrorists, Israel seems to have learned from Brutus’s failure and Washington’s success:
This time, Israeli military commanders are leading from the front, not trying to direct the infantry from television screens. This time, the military has clear plans, in stages, drawn up with a year’s preparation. This time, there is no illusion about winning a war only from the air.
The Israeli military has clear plans. It has a strategy for victory. Something which Norm Coleman lacked in the Minnesota recount. And John McCain in the most recent presidential campaign.
*When I have a moment, I wil track down Joseph Ellis’ remarks to that end.