05 September 2006

Can we please stop the 'final throes' nonsense?

It’s been over a year since the Vice-President’s claim that the ‘insurgency’ in Iraq was in its “final throes.” And of course, he now continues to take a great deal of flack for that claim—right up there with the President’s “mission accomplished” claim.

One problem which exists in this country is a deplorable lack of perspective, especially historical perspective. A result of this lack of perspective is an inability to learn from the past mistakes (and successes) of others.

A historical perspective would give people (even, one hopes, the pathetic press) the understanding that how long any set of ‘final throes’ will last depends on the nature of the event. Take, for example, an event of great historical significance, the fall of the Roman Republic. When did the Republic’s ‘final throes’ begin?

For my money, the initial death throes of the Republic began at least during that period in Rome’s history when the Gracchi brothers (Tiberius and Gaius) were assassinated. It is not so much that they were assassinated, but that their assassinations were the result of factors which to me made the fall of the Republic inevitable, especially the despicable behavior of the rich. Tiberius was assassinated in 132 B.C. and Gaius in 121 B.C. The Republic was dead by 27 B.C. at the latest when Augustus began his unusual reign. I believe that the ‘final throes’ began with Sulla’s march upon Rome in 88 B.C. My reason is that the fall of Republic and institution of the Empire was made possible by, among other things, the allegiance of armies to their generals (made possible by the fact that by this time armies had to look to their generals, rather than to the Roman Senate, for the rewards of military service), which was firmly in place by the time of Sulla. But for this fact, it would have been difficult for opportunists like the Julio-Claudians to seize and retain power the way they did. If we take my view those ‘final throes’ lasted from 88 B.C. to 27 B.C.—61 years. I suppose one could argue that the ‘final throes’ were only the period of the Civil Wars leading up to the inception of the Empire, from 45 to 30 B.C. Fine. That’s still 15 years. One could go still further and say that the ‘final throes’ of the Republic were during the final Civil War from 32 to 30 B.C. We’re still talking ‘final throes’ that lasted two years.

It’s only been one year and four months since the Vice-President’s ‘final throes’ claim. Just a little bit of historical perspective would permit his critics to see that they have no case against him. Nothing about the use of the phrase 'final throes' puts any time limit on those throes. But his critics aren’t interested in truth; they are interested in political expediency. And the educational establishment they’ve been running for decades has produced a population without the needed perspective.


About Me

James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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