Doing Like the Romans


Max Boot is back flogging his solution to the U.S. military's acute manpower shortage, brought on by the foreign adventures he and his pals have lobbied for:

offer citizenship to anyone, anywhere on the planet, willing to serve a set term in the U.S. military. We could model a Freedom Legion after the French Foreign Legion. Or we could allow foreigners to join regular units after a period of English-language instruction, if necessary.

While interesting, I think that's a non-starter. What intrigues me more is Boot's handling of the inevitable Roman Empire objection:

Some letter writers invoke the specter of mercenaries leading to the fall of the U.S. as they supposedly led to the fall of Rome. That's a misreading of Roman history. As classicist Victor Davis Hanson points out, by the 1st century AD, the legions "were mostly non-Italian and mercenary, and the empire still endured for nearly another 500 years." If only the Pax Americana were to last half as long!

When war enthusiasts are no longer even defensive about comparisons to the Roman Empire, we have arguably crossed over into new territory. I had this exact same conversation over the weekend with a Marine Iraq War vet, and a civilian pro-war guy. They had me on the defensive for a half-hour—"What's WRONG with being like the Roman Empire?? They lasted a thousand years, didn't they?" Silly me, I was hoping the United States would hold out a little longer than that….