The U.S., France and Greece have conducted a joint military drill on the island of Skyros in the Aegean waters. The name of this military drill is apparently “Alexander the Great 2020.”
Macedonian King Alexander made history when he launched eastern crusades against the Persian Empire in the year 300 B.C.
Since I’ve been studying Ancient Roman and Greek history for the past few months, the war games immediately captured my attention.
My readings which began with Edward Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” led me to Alexander.
I have gleaned much from the works of Plutarch’s “Alexander- Caesar”; Arrian’s The Anabasis of Alexander; and Jacob Abott’s “Alexander the Great.”
What led me to read Gibbon are the debates regarding “The U.S.’s place in the world,” which have recently intensified following the election of Donald Trump as president with the slogan “America First.”
The political elite who want the U.S.’s hegemony over the world order to continue are saying that the U.S. should sustain its existence as the “American Empire.”
Trump for his part is advocating, even it be allegedly so, for that U.S. power be allotted to Americans alone.
In a nutshell, the U.S. political elite are divided between an American Empire and a “state nation.”
Trump’s so-called negative attitude towards multinational military alliances and trade agreements, especially “NATO,” sheds light on the nature of the rift.
As for the trade wars which Trump started against China, they are eroding the rules of the global system created by the World Trade Organization (WHO).
Even if Trump promised to withdraw the U.S. from the Middle East’s endless wars, he hasn’t made an inch of progress.
The U.S. currently has close to 1,000 military bases across the globe, but it cannot maintain its influence despite being that overstretched.
A rising power like China is now at war with a world power like the United States. Alliances are being broken and new ones are being forged as the global system rots.
The reason for my telling this is that the U.S. political elite frequently make reference the Roman Empire, Ancient Greece and Alexander the Great. In Ancient Rome, there was also violent conflict between the defenders of the “Republic” and the “Empire.”
Popular opinion states that the fall of the Roman Empire was wrought by it having more soldiers than it could control across various regions.
Alexander himself was lost in the complex processes of the east crusades and never made it home again.
Ancient historians such as Plutarch, Livy, Thucydides, Polybius, and Arrian provide us with interesting insights into the conflicts of the defenders of the “Republic” and “Empire.”
Thucydides’ famous book about the “Peloponnesian Wars”, which was said to lead to the collapse of the ancient Greek civilization, is used as a guide in defining the U.S.’s power struggle with China.
I had mentioned the book “Destined for war: Can China and the United States escape Thucydides’ Trap,” penned by American political scientist Prof. Graham Allison in my previous columns.
Allison, by basing his argument on Thucydides’ text, tries to explain how the competition between a ruling power (the U.S.) and a rising power (China) will eventually end in a war.
If we are to get back on topic, the U.S., France and Greece are our so-called NATO allies.
So what is the significance of the “Alexander the Great Military Drill”?
According to a report on the “Greece.greekreporter.com” website, the drill simulates recapturing a Greek island from an “enemy.”
The site in question bases this interpretation on analysts and diplomats associated with the Greek General Staff.
The drill supposedly sends an “open and direct” message that most of the islands found in the East Mediterranean need to de-militarize.
The “enemy” country’s name isn’t openly stated, but it’s not really hard to guess. Even the name of the war game is overly provocative. Alexander thought that ensuring the peace of Greece started in the East. This discourse clashes with the U.S.’s military presence in the Middle East and the Neocon mentality which equates Israel’s security with the U.S.’s national security.
The crusade wars which took place between the 11th and 13th centuries could also be placed within this context.
Even the location of the grave of Alexander the Great is still unknown today and the Crusades ended in a fiasco. History is rife with tales about those who perish in their attempts to swallow up the East.