Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Good Old Days

In a never ending quest to push personal boundaries, I decided on this one issue to give politeness a try. Frankly, it's no wonder I never tried it before; waiting patiently is a pretty annoying process.

But I waited for years as the mantra got repeated...

"Afghanistan has been the graveyard of empires, from Alexander to the USSR."

Every time I heard it, observed to myself it sounds good, but then? Preposterous twaddle usually does. I waited for someone to speak up, and now it's happened. I am SO glad this whole "patience" experiment is done with!

An award winning egghead has written in a forum only read by other eggheads to set the record straight, so now I can speak up.

Alexander the Great didn't get whipped in Afghanistan. Alexander beat the snot out of the Persian empire, so it's unlikely loosely organized tribal bands would give him much sweat. I guess people think Alex was roaming around central Asia setting up little Greek government branch offices. Wasn't like that at all.

Alex and his lethal swarm of human locusts only did the "meet your new boss" stuff at centers of population. Afghanistan didn't beat Alex. I can say that, and I've never been an admirer. Alexander "the Great"? Alexander the Butcher is more like it.

But those were the good old days of conquest, before ideology messed everything up. Back then a nation went to war to kill strangers and take their stuff. Everybody knew that.

Now before I get angry e-mail from the Alex the Great fan club (oh I bet there is one somewhere) I'm not dismissing the long term effects of his reign of terror. He inadvertantly set Greek culture as a dominant force. When Rome replaced Greece, well they always felt a little culturally inferior and copied Greece carefully.

So it's quite possible that if Alex hadn't whipped the Persians, those lovely old mansions in Natchez might not have columns at all. They might have domes and spires instead.

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