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  • Griffin Flannery

America's Adornment of The Laurel Crown

Roman civilization has long been a marvel of human history, becoming a staple in the American education system and greatly heroizing their impressive accomplishments. Through the culmination of artistic, military, and political innovation, Rome has become a precursor to American infrastructure even after its collapse in 476 AD. The United States constantly alludes to even the smallest references in Roman culture, such as the symbolism of the laurel crown worn by many political and military figures in the ancient world. Romans, including the infamous Julius Caesar, adorned the laurel as a symbol of military victory and esteemed careers of military dominance. Such symbols were associated with Victoria, Roman goddess of victory, and were cherished by the Mediterranean civilization. Even in modern America, denotations of the laurel wreath can still be found in university logos, artistic works, and patriotic symbols.

In 2006, author Harold James published a book entitled The Roman Predicament, which depicted U.S president George W. Bush wearing a toga and laurel crown. This illustration was foundational in constructing the correlation between American and Roman infrastructure and foreign affairs, being one of the first works to propose such an idea. Large-scale debate was fostered as a result of this book illustration, causing some to side with the policies implemented by Bush after 9/11 and some to question whether or not America was adopting empirical ideologies. Not only was Bush portrayed with Roman attire, but the image chosen did not perceive Bush as being professional, and certainly not presidential. In fact, the image shows him smirking, with a malicious expression suggesting the author was challenging the former president’s ethical and moral consideration. Upon further examination into The Roman Predicament, a developed argument was beginning to form but was unfortunately restricted by the author’s lack of knowledge in Roman history. This would become a continuity among future writers who concerned themselves with the issue. However, although this work was hindered by unrefined historical knowledge, it was still an influential work that allowed Americans to question whether or not their nation was becoming empirical.

American imperialism is defined by the United States’ facades of peace and generosity due to its “position of unprecedented economic, cultural, technological, and above all military dominance '' (A. Bacevich). However, it is revealed that the United States uses this as a distraction, when in reality, they are asserting their dominance in regions beyond their borders for their own personal agenda. Ironically, the foundation of American philosophy in 1776 was based upon the belief that the British crown could not impose unjust rules upon American colonists who were geographically separated across entire oceans. U.S founders wanted to create the “very antithesis of empire” and avoid the imperialist behaviors attributed to the British Empire (A. Bacevich).

The United States denies its relation to Rome, but has proclaimed itself a worldly superpower that is heavily involved in foreign affairs. Furthermore, these comparisons to imperial tendencies pose the question on whether or not America is too formally involved in foreign affairs that do not necessarily require American aid. The events that transpired during September 11th, 2001 can be used to illustrate this point. The Bush administration took this as inspiration, reorganizing national security in a “ war on terror” (A. Bacevich) . The U.S has become accustomed to imposing its imperialist behavior by referencing to it as a defense against terrorism. United States officials are constantly blurring the line between the two concepts in order to obtain a larger role in the world than is needed for the good of civilization. Acknowledging American foreign policy through the perspective of the U.S as an empire would allow ordinary Americans to more-directly understand what foreign affairs their country partakes in and reclaim a right that has been stripped from the public.


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