Monday, November 17, 2008

Praetorian Guard; Augustus; Obama


Ever since Obama's proposal to create a civilian national defense force and his creation of the shadowy tax free foundation, the term "praetorian guard" (and worse) has been used to describe what is really going on. Here is one historian's discussion of the Praetorian Guard in ancient Rome.

Caesar Augustus was Rome's first permament emporer, succeeding Julius Caesar who was assassinated after a brief reign. Julius Caesar did not institutionalize the empire. But Augustus (taking total power circa 30 B.C.) undertook many steps to make the empire permanent. One of these steps was the insertion of the military in a permament way in Roman politics:
Further to assure order of the desired kind, and support his own power, Augustus, seriously violating precedent, kept six cohorts of a thousand soldiers each near Rome and three cohorts within it. These nine cohorts became the Praetorian Guard - i.e., guard of the praetorium, or headquarters of the commander in chief. It was this body that in A.D. 41 made Claudius emporer and began the subjection of the government to the army.
Durant, Caesar and Christ, p. 216

While Obama's proposals are a far cry from military dictatorship, all such transitions begin slowly. Neither Obama nor any of his successors will someday announce that they are imposing a dictatorship. It will happen gradually. The Roman transition was much more obvious and identifiable.

For Obama to institutionalize his election year supporters into a permanent force, using taxpayer and tax-free dollars, that will work to keep Obama or his successors in power is a subtle, yet distinctive move in the direction of empire and away from constitutional government.

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