Monday, February 27, 2012

Differing Thoughts on Empires

Getting ready in the early AM.  Finally got a decent night's sleep.  Morning is when I usually get a touch of caffeine into my system, take my aspirin and other quack nostrums, and spend a moment to think.  This morning it is on the thoughts of empire
Dmitry Orlov has had a remarkable run comparing the fall of the US empire with the fall of the USSR.  The Archdruid wrote a recent post on the subject that has some merit.

I think that the sexy empires that we like to compare ourselves with are Rome and the British Empire.  We have fond places in our hearts for these two and even have the fasces  on the wall in the House of Representatives and the Senate to prove the point.

Dmitry made significant debating points by having us take an uncomfortable look at the none too seemly parallels between the US and the Soviet Union.  Made for excellent reading (he does write quite well), but while the parallels are there, it really doesn't seem to fit that well.

Nope.  I think that the empire that has some merit in referencing relative to our current straits is the Napoleonic Empire.   Military in nature, expansionary by principle, missionary in its zeal.

Now, there are going to be all kinds of people who will be aghast at this idea, and I will probably even be willing to concede the great majority of their debating points.  Nonetheless, I want to put the Napoleonic French model as a possible trajectory for it's American Cousine.  

Napoleon was a superb military commander with an excellent press corps.  Whenever he was against reasonably competent commanders, he managed to lose a fair amount of the time, but the press corps that he had subsumed made quick work burying the idea of his fallibility.  Egypt, the Peninsular War, Aspern-Essling, Leipzig, and the Invasion of Russia all showed the marks of a mortal.

What he did was operate an oversize military in a manner that used the resources of the states to provide for a core.   The seizure of power was done the old fashioned way, by sucking up to a revolutionary political force and then throwing a coup d'etat.
 Post-Napoleon France did not whither away, it stayed a major player.  You might even be able to argue that it remains a major player. 

No, what Napoleon was most capable of was the forging of a concordat between a radical revolutionary movement and a focused military.  The military will rarely lose in such venues 


russell1200 said...

Napolean is tough to figure out. On the one hand he was very aggressive, but on the other hand France had been subject to invasion by a number of large coalitions, and the allied countries were not exactly always the nicest people themselves.

Napoleon was not present at the loses in Spain, and the French did not withdraw until after the Russian fiasco. Aspern Esling was only a loss in the sense that it was not the usual crushing French victory. Eylau was an earlier bloody draw. Berezina during the retreat of 1812 is sited by some, but I don't know much about it.

Leipzig, where he faced an enormous coalition is often sited as his first loss as well.

Napoleon did not win all the time, but he won most of the time, and he never lost when the odds were even close to even.

I don't see much Napoleonic brilliance from our military. Our norm seems to be bloody stalemates that we fight to exhaustion.

Craig Cavanaugh said...

Seems to be some resemblance to Lord Obammy, at least where the press is concerned. The difference lies in that Napoleon wanted victory. Obammy simply wants to line the pockets of his military-industrial complex handlers, and therefore his as well. With a splash of socialist utopia on top, to appease his base (and his own beliefs).