Over the past few weeks the foreign policy doctrine of President Trump has become clearer and clearer. It looks like it is based on the model of ancient Rome.
The Roman Citizen
When Caesar was running for consul he said ” Once elected I will work towards the day when a Roman Citizen can go to any land and declare that he is a Roman Citizen and expect good treatment, for they will know he has the might of Rome behind him”. Trump is following this doctrine.
A week ago a green beret was killed in Achin district in Afghanistan. A week later President Trump drops the mother of all bombs to them. Of course there are other benefits to dropping this bomb but the message is clear. If an American citizen dies vengeance and it will be vastly disproportionate to the amount of damage suffered. The retaliation may not always be military but it will always be there.
Leading by Example
Rome has always been very good in leading by example. That is they made an example of some nations for others to follow. When Carthage challenged Rome they destroyed their city and sowed it with salt so nothing would ever grow there again. When Spartacus led his rebellion Rome crucified all of them as a warning to future rebellions. Rome made an example of its benevolence as well. Caesar turned back the hordes of Helveti encroaching on Aedui lands and to be an ally of Rome meant that the empire would support you in war.
Did we really need to drop 59 tomahawks in Syria? Surely 20 would have sufficed. Did we need to drop a bomb that is as close to a nuke as we can get in Afganistan? Surely a bunch of regular bombs would have achieved the same result. The answer is of course yes. The missile strikes serve as an example to North Korea, China, Russia and our other adversaries. Is it necessary to threaten to ruin the Mexican economy? Yes because other nations need to learn that there are consequences when they take advantage of our good graces.
Roman foreign policy always put Roman interests first. Allies were constantly evaluated at how useful and compliant they were to empire. Allies who were not were replaced by those who are. Even age old enemies like the Persians or the Germanic tribes were given help when greater threats appeared.
Our President is using these principles today. China, Russia, and even our old allies in Europe have to constantly prove themselves as worthy of our support. This allows us to derive the maximum benefit for our support.
Heirs of Rome
For better or for worse America has inherited the mantle of Rome as the Empire of the West. We can hardly do worse than emulating the foreign policy of an empire that has lasted a thousand years.