Hubris has been the fatal weakness of every empire there has been, says John Wight.
History records that Marcus Licinius Crassus, the lesser-known member of a First Triumvirate in Rome (60–53 BC) which also included Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey), was a man of enormous personal wealth, greed and vanity. Desirous of achieving a military triumph to match those of his more illustrious fellow triumvirs, his vanity led to him embarking on an ill-fated military invasion of Parthia (present day central eastern Turkey and northeastern Iran) in 53 BC. It resulted in the annihilation of his legions and his own death; culminating, it is said, in the Parthians pouring molten gold into his mouth to signify his notorious hunger for riches.
Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States, is our Crassus, a man whose greed is only matched by his vanity. In giving the order to assassinate Iran’s Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, he has opened the gates of hell at the behest of the very neocons whose worldview he entered the White House pledging to oppose in 2016.
Mired in an impeachment scandal in Washington, thrashing around on Twitter desperate to receive the acclaim and adulation he believes is his by birthright, Trump has just committed the greatest military blunder of any American president since Lyndon Johnson decided to enter Vietnam with boots on the ground in 1965.
Qassem Soleimani was more than the military genius, a man who even his detractors must grudgingly acknowledge struck fear in the heart of every Salafi-jihadist from Riyadh to Raqqa and everywhere in-between. Revered by his friends and reviled by his enemies, here was a man who did not flinch from danger and personal risk alongside the men under his command. For such as he, a man’s worth is measured not in the size of his bank account or mansion, but instead in the size of his fidelity to a cause greater than self.
Trump could never with all the money in hell buy what this Iranian possessed. He was the Middle East’s Che Guevara, and just like him, in death Qassem Soleimani has attained the status of an idea — the idea of resistance to empire, imperialism, colonialism, exploitation and oppression. It’s an idea that will never die, which is why in death Qasem Soleimani will prove a far greater foe to Washington and its allies and lackeys than he ever did in life.
Iran now has no choice other than to retaliate in the face of what will go down in history as a provocation too far. The Iranian people, divided like all people are on various issues at home, are united steadfast in their determination to resist any and all attempts to return to the days when their country as a de facto U.S. colonial possession, ruled by a flunkey of the Empire at the cost of their dignity and national honor.
As to those who will be celebrating the death of Qassem Soleimani, we have appearing in sharp relief a true axis of sectarianism, oppression and apartheid — made up of Israel, Saudi Arabia and ISIS and its various offshoots. Such an axis offers nothing but misery and carnage in a region that has already experienced far too much of same in recent years. Trump gave the order to kill Iran’s supreme military commander not as the leader of the free world, but as the head of a vast criminal conspiracy which, like a rabid beast, has broken from its leash and is now out of control.
Hubris has been the fatal weakness of every empire there has been. Sustained by a false sense of invincibility and cultural superiority, hubris has proved their downfall. And so it is now, in our time, with a U.S. empire in decline. In attacking Iran systematically since he became president — first pulling out of the P5+1 Iran nuclear deal, then imposing draconian sanctions on the country, and now with this disastrous escalation, Trump has not, as the likes of Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of StateMike Pompeo would have him believe, set in train the kind of internal unrest that will lead inexorably to regime change in Tehran.
Instead he has only succeeded in forging the iron will of a people to resist the attempt to return them to the state of U.S. vassalage they once endured under the Shah.
Crassus understood too late the folly in allowing personal vanity to dictate military strategy. Trump has just done likewise. As such, a mouthful of molten gold awaits.
John Wight is an independent journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
This article was first published on Medium.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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