This is the new blog...CONFESSION ZERO


The Fall of Rome
by Adrian Dorrington

The Romans had existed as an important power for over 1000 years. They had brought stability, prosperity, and order to the civilised West. Excellent roads connected the far reaches of the empire with the capital at Rome. These were built originally for military purposes but improved all communications and trade. Roman law kept the internal peace and 20 to 30 Roman legions defended the frontiers.
All was not perfect, however. Emperors held absolute authority. This worked well with good emperors, but incompetent ones could do great harm. The rules for succession to the throne were never clear, and debilitating civil wars often resulted. The bureaucracy that managed the empire on a daily basis grew more corrupt, increasing the dissatisfaction of the common citizen. The wealth of the empire gradually concentrated in the hands of a minority while a large slave population did most of the work. The borders of the empire were immense and put a strain on military resources (500,000 soldiers defended a frontier that required 3 million or more to be secured). Roman conquests had ceased in the second century A.D., bringing an end to massive inflows of plunder and slaves. Taxes increased and production fell as the work force declined. A plague may have killed 20 percent of the empire's population in the third and fourth centuries, further reducing trade and production.

The $Cost$ of War Unnoticed

by Lori Montgomery
The global war on terror, as President Bush calls the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and related military operations, is about to become the second-most-expensive conflict in U.S. history, after World War II.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress has approved more than $609 billion for the wars, a figure likely to stand as lawmakers rework their latest spending bill in response to a Bush veto. Requests for $145 billion more await congressional action and would raise the cost in inflation-adjusted dollars beyond the cost of the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
But the United States is vastly richer than it was in those days, and the nation's wealth now dwarfs the price of war, economists said. Last year, spending in Iraq amounted to less than 1 percent of the total economy -- about as much as Americans spent shopping online and less than half what they spent at Wal-Mart. Total defense spending is 4 percent of gross domestic product, the figure that measures the nation's economic output. In contrast, defense spending ate up 14 percent of GDP at the height of the Korean War and 9 percent during the Vietnam War.

Our authority!
Our authority and nothing else
Can end this; our termination.
The mission cannot stand.
The people cannot rest.
We must remember the blood spilled from thousands,
Troop and civilian; slaughtered, battered, injured;
Crucified along this blunder strewn path.
Six hundred and nine billion served
At the foot of gluttony,
The hands of apathy,
The talons of empire…
Reaching through the gloom.
We will not trace this time,
We will not remember even its stench.
We will not hear the echoing cry of “rise up”!
(Sacrifice has not been asked of us.)
Our surrender will be our forged glory;
The resonance of the sheer absurdity
We’ve found rumbling in the sticky swamp
Of stay the course hammering our ears.

Of this tragic loss we’ll most remember.

I wonder what great men stood on the Senate floor
Pushing back at the gates of hell opening on Rome?

© 2007 mrp/thepoetryman

Crooked Timber - Decline and Fall


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