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(From a report to Tiberius Caesar and the Roman Senate from the Prefect of Judea)

Rome, as we know, is not an empire.  Not in the traditional sense.

Our network of military bases and administrative provinces in the eastern region exists with the aim of bringing peace and economic development, as well as protecting civilians from invasion by the Parthians, and securing trade routes from Egypt.  Rome is the indispensable nation, and our influence is needed to pacify a troubled area.

In this combat ecosystem we compete for dominance with a variety of state and non-state actors.  Ethnic and religious militias, insurgent groups, local authorities, and foreign combatants are each trying to maximize their survivability and marginalize their rivals.

Simply put: This is a war like no other.

To stabilize Judea, Roman authorities will not be able to rely on the same force-against-force tactics we used to destroy Hannibal.  Kinetic operations are necessary, but they are only part of our strategy -- which is after all, a counterinsurgency strategy.  Its three pillars are security, political stability, and economic growth.  And we must build these three pillars in parallel, not in succession.  Which brings us to crucifixion.

Crucifixion sends a powerful message to allies and enemies alike that Rome dominates the security environment.  At the same time it supports local political institutions like the Sanhedrin.  This shows our resolve to eliminate the enemies to peace in coordination with the Judean people.  It proves that we are nation-builders and liberators, not conquerors.  But that we will use lethal force if necessary.  Crucifixion, if implemented properly, is the perfect combination of hard power and soft power.

But how does one execute a successful crucifixion policy?  There are clear rules: First, it must conform to local cultural traditions.  In Judea, we've had to modify our court schedule to comply with the religious holidays and mores of the people.  Second, the Roman military must prove it can police the courts and execution site effectively.  The perception of security is everything here.  We've decided to create a kind of parade route from the trial to the place of crucifixion as a way of demonstrating that we can clear and hold an important area at our discretion.  It is sometimes cruel to the condemned, but it's a necessary price to pay.

Finally and most importantly, Roman officials must hand off authority to the locals.  I can't stress how difficult this can sometimes be.  Occasionally you see a court render a completely unfair verdict.  You might be tempted to intervene in the interests of some kind of vague idea of justice.  But you must not.  Not if you wish to achieve peace and stability among nations in the Roman Coalition.

This is war.  Innocent people die in war.  They die at checkpoints and in terrible accidents, and in tragic failures of the chain of command.  But the occasional bad verdict is within the range of acceptable losses.

Bringing peace to the world means getting your hands dirty.

Originally posted to on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 02:34 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  This reminds me of ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paulie200, DJ Rix

    The Socratic dialogues written by Plato.  In particular,  Apology.   I love Socratic thinking and reasoning anyway, but this book, if you haven't read it, really does work today as both straight historical reporting and also, to some degree, as satire!  To be honest, I've often thought that Socrates MEANT most of it as satire when he said what Plato recounts that he said.

    He talks about the strange unfairness of the law, and yet at the same time, he congratulates it.   He talks about his impossible position and, at the same time, agrees with it!

    Basically, the point Socrates likes to make is similar to your diary!   Executing the law politically, is indeed a complex thing to do.   Complex and ludicrous, both at the same time.

    Bearing a grudge is like swallowing a poison and expecting someone else to die...

    by Maianewley on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 03:06:25 AM PDT

  •  The real problem? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, emidesu

    The -Empire-  oops I mean, Republic, has too many enemies from within!

    A vote for Biggus Mittus will help take care of them!  It will ensure that the criminals opposed to the glory of the -Empire-, opps, I mean Republic, and sentenced to torture and crucifixion for that, will not get off with some other lighter form of execution.

  •  Kudos. Yes, the rule of law makes it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, Sandino, marykk

    possible for individual persons to wash their hands and let the law (with the assistance of some underlings) do the dirty work of subjugating the population with a few stark examples for them.

    In a world where enough food to adequately nourish nine billion people is produced, why is it that of the six billion actually existing perhaps one billion are on the edge of starvation?  For what reason other than to persuade the five billion to be compliant and work harder, lest they too join the ranks of the deprived?

    But why, you might ask.  The answer, I suspect, is that there's always a percentage of the human population that's mentally unequipped to provide for itself and, like some parasitic species, need to manipulate their own kind to provide for them. What seems ironic is that competent humans produce much more than they need for themselves and gladly share what the manipulators are at pains to squeeze out of them.

    Americans, for example, keep millions of pets. Keeping a million or two humans in comfort shouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that these incompetent humans seem impossible to content.  They never seem to know when enough is enough, perhaps because the comfort they seek is psychological and obsessive.  So, they bite the hand that feeds them.

    When Willard put Seamus on the roof, it was probably because he was jealous and putting the boys with whom he was in competition just wouldn't do. Ann has said it felt like she had six sons, not five and one of the sons has revealed that Willard would never permit an insulting word to be said to their mom.  Why would that even be an issue? Why would the sons be tempted to insult the mother?  Was it because they perceived that her favoritism of Willard was unfair?

    But, to get back to the beginning, the rule of law lets people get away with murder and call it justice.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage". He's not into "catch and release."

    by hannah on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 03:35:00 AM PDT

  •  Been reading the NT this summer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk, Wee Mama

    Not out of a sudden burst of religious fervor but because it makes it so clear how far off the far right fundamentalists are. Those folks who tote their NT into the metro don't seem to read too deeply.

    I started with "Did Jesus Really Exist," a pretty good primer on how historians validate most of the text. (Of course, a lot was added for political effect. Sorry, choirs, but there was no census that brought anyone from Nazareth to Bethlehem.)

    But when you read carefully, you can clearly see the social agenda and perhaps more importantly the real and valuable lessons for us.

    From that perspective, the real Christians in our society today are people like Elizabeth Warren and Michael Moore.

  •  Well done but... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueness, DJ Rix

    That was a well written thought provoking read but some of this conforms more to the new testament than the reality on the ground.

    If the Romans wanted to crucify you, they just did it as evidenced by...

    Trial and sentencing were forbidden by Jewish law during major holidays.  Jesus was tried and executed during Passover.

    Jews believe we are created in Gods image and as such claiming you are the son of god was not a capital offense.

    Crucifixion was a very specialized form of execution and could only be done by a uniquely trained group of Roman soldiers.

    Crucifixion was forbidden by Jewish law because it's a slow torturous death without mercy.  If the Sanhedrin sentenced to you to death, You got stoned (and not in a good way)

    Thematically I think this is a great post.  Sorry to get so nit-picky.

    •  You missed the point entirely. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

      by Bisbonian on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 07:22:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Robby didn't miss the point. (0+ / 0-)

        I thought about the same things. You wrote from the p.o.v. of a Roman. Paul Tillich wrote, "If you cannot stand with Jesus, then stand with Pilate." "Quid est veritas?"

        "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

        by DJ Rix on Tue Jul 31, 2012 at 08:50:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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