Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Liberal Military

Victor Davis Hanson:

We sometimes forget that the existential global evils of the 19th and 20th centuries —chattel slavery, Nazism, Italian Fascism, Japanese militarism, and Soviet Stalinism — were not only eliminated by force or the threat of force, but exclusively by the might of democratically governed militaries. American armies or the threat of them ended the plantation system, the death camps, the Co-Prosperity Sphere, and the Gulag, and made possible the future of the new Atlanta, the new Tokyo, and the new Berlin alike. Even during Roman imperial times, when the first emperors succeeded in suppressing the autonomy of the Senate and central assemblies, there still functioned at the local level the concepts of Roman law that allowed all Roman citizens the same rights of habeas corpus, trial by a magistrate, and protections of private property. The armies of the late republic that swept the Mediterranean did not do so solely on the brilliant discipline, tactics, and technology of the legions. They also offered to the conquered the promise that Roman proconsuls and legates would use legionaries to enforce a sense of equality under the law for indigenous tribes from Gaul to North Africa — a reality that often undermined local nationalist resistance leaders.

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