Sunday, March 16, 2008

Setbacks

Marcus AureliusIn 180, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (called 'the Wise') died aged 58.

His tenure was marked by three crisis which ultimately resulted in the collapse of Rome - wars in Asia against a revitalized Parthian Empire, the plague carried home by returning Roman solidiers and finally defeat by Germanic tribes crossing the Limes Germanicus. Marcus Aurelius is revered for his keynote work of Stoic Philosophy Meditations, a literary monument to a government of service and duty, praised for its 'exquisite accent and its infinite tenderness.'
Marcus Aurelius - General Maximus
General Maximus
In Asia, a revitalized Parthian Empire renewed its assault in 161, defeating two Roman armies and invading Armenia and Syria. Marcus Aurelius sent his joint emperor Verus to command the legions in the east to face this threat. The war ended successfully in 166, although the merit must be mostly ascribed to subordinate generals like Gaius Avidius Cassius. On the return from the campaign, Verus was awarded with a triumph; the parade was unusual because it included the two emperors, their sons and unmarried daughters as a big family celebration. Marcus Aurelius' two sons, Commodus five years old and Annius Verus of three, were elevated to the status of Caesar for the occasion.

The returning army carried with them a plague, afterwards known as the Antonine Plague, or the Plague of Galen, which spread through the Roman Empire between 165 and 180. The disease was a pandemic believed to be either of smallpox or measles, and would ultimately claim the lives of two Roman emperors - Lucius Verus, who died in 169, and Marcus Aurelius, whose family name, Antoninus, was given to the epidemic. The disease broke out again nine years later, according to the Roman historian Dio Cassius, and caused up to 2,000 deaths a day at Rome, one quarter of those infected. Total deaths have been estimated at five million.

Starting from the 160s, Germanic tribes and other nomadic people launched raids along the Northern border, particularly into Gaul and across the Danube. Numerous Germans settled in frontier regions like Dacia, Pannonia, Germany and Italy itself.

Marcus Aurelius death from the Antonine plague gifted the throne to his foolish son Commodus, whose weak character was threatened by the one individual most able to resist the Germanic invasion - his father's favourite General, Maximus Decimus Meridius. Commodus enslaved Maximus and sent him to Zucchabar, a rugged province in North Africa.

A greatly weakened Rome fell in 181, unable to resist the Germanic invasion through depopulation and lack of effective military leadership.
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In 1969, the 'Iron Lady' Golda Meir, infamous for stating that the Palestinian people did not exist, became Prime Minister of Israel on this day. During her term of office she sent an athletic team to the Munich Olympics of 1972, an event marked by symbolism on many levels. Terrorists saw this as an unparalleled opportunity to remind the international community that the Palestinian people did exist. The Games turned to tragedy when the Israeli athletes were massacred by the Terrorist Group, Black September. Enraged, Meir ordered Operation Wrath of God, instructing the Israeli Secret Service to 'set the boys loose' and assassinate the officer class of Palestinian Society including Yasser Arafat, Yahya Hammuda, Mahmoud Abbas and Farouk Kaddoumi. This excessive response turned Israel into a pariah state, and her athletic team were not even invited to either the '76 summer games in Montreal, Canada or even more symbolically, the winter games at Innsbruck, Austria.
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In 2003, British Cabinet Minister, Robin Cook, resigned over government plans for war with Iraq. A highly intelligent man, Cook argued privately that the Extraterrestrial Technology (ET) recovered from Panama was more than sufficient to power the strategic models being developed around the predictions of the thousand year old Lenape soothsayer held until recently under the World Trade Center. Prime Minister Tony Blair changed tack and stated that the ET buried in Iraq, Iraq and North Korea was vulnerable to abduction by China, Russia or indeed al-Qaeda. Cook insulted Blair by calling him the Bush Family Poodle and stormed out of Number 10, Downing Street. Cook would not keep quiet and it was necessary for Blair to arrange a little accident for his former subordinate on a Scottish fell-walking expedition on August 6, 2005.
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In 1966, off the coast of Spain a 16-ton, manned deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found a missing American hydrogen bomb. The 'Alvin' as the craft was known inadvertently detonated the bomb, creating a deep-ocean shock. The mysterious beings known as the Kraken raced to the surface, wrecking an orgy of destruction on the East Coast until their rage was spent. It was the worst of times, it was the of times, to paraphrase Charles Dickens.
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In 1985, the serial killer Richard Ramirez known as the 'Night Stalker' committed his first two murders in a Los Angeles murder spree. On August 3, 1988, the Los Angeles Times reported that some jail employees overheard Ramirez planning to kill the jury. On August 14, the trial was interrupted because one of the jurors, Phyllis Singletary, did not arrive to the courtroom. Later that day she was found dead in her apartment, the Night Stalker's last victim.
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In 1960, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration agreed to a recommendation from the CIA to equip and drill Cuban exiles for action against the new government of Fidel Castro. Eisenhower stated it was the policy of the U.S. government to aid anti-Castro guerilla forces. The CIA began to recruit and train anti-Castro forces in the Sierra Madre on the Pacific coast of Guatemala. It has been claimed by one biographer that the main drive behind the invasion scheme was Vice President Richard Nixon. The famous tapes from the time he was President seem to indicate that he was deeply involved. If so, it would explain how this stunningly successful operation was repeated to win the Vietnam War less than six years later.
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In 1960, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration rejected a recommendation from the CIA to equip and drill Cuban exiles for action against the new government of Fidel Castro. Eisenhower stated it was not the policy of the U.S. government to give clandestine aid to guerilla forces. The main drive behind the invasion scheme was Vice President Richard Nixon. Nixon and Eisenhower argued bitterly over the decision, as evident by Eisenhowe's non-existent endorsement of Nixon during the '60 election.
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In 1213 AUC, a Brittanian slave attempting to escape to Eire was put to the death. The slave had been part of the underground cult of Christos which still had some few adherents even after 4 centuries of suppression by the Roman Empire. This slave, Patriclus according to some documents, had wanted to convert the people of Eire to his religion.
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in 460, Patrick I, King of Eire, died in his castle in Dublin. With his influence, the Irish had been able to conquer England and Wales, and started spreading across the world over the following centuries. Today, everyone is Irish.
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in 460, Patrick, a wealthy British Christian who had single-handedly converted the whole of Ireland to Christianity, died in his adopted homeland. In a few centuries, the Holy British Empire would use the legend of Patrick to convince the Irish to bow to their rule; the Irish became very loyal subjects of the Holy British Empire because of St. Patrick.
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In 1943, Joint Chief of Staff George C. Marshall discovered that General Eisenhower was having an affair with his English driver, Kay Summersby. It was of course a major security concern for a junior officer to be so close to the man charged with the Normandy Landings. Worse, with Ike's focus distracted, more thought might be given to divorcing his wife Mamie than beating the Germans. Marshall decided to escalate, he leaked the news to Mamie.

And in my dream methought I went To search out what might there be found ;
And what the sweet bird's trouble meant, that thus lay fluttering on the ground.
I went and peered, and could descry No cause for her distressful cry ; but yet for her dear lady's sake
I stooped, methought, the dove to take, when lo ! I saw a bright green snake Coiled around its wings and neck.

~ Christabel, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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In 1945, the strategically important captured railway Bridge at Remagen, having sped the end of WW-II, but ironically no longer taking artillery fire, collapses ten days into the battle rendering the lodgement on the Germany bank of the Rhine dependent entirely on pontoon bridges. The Allied invasion was delayed by overcautious Supreme Commander Bernard Montgomery, enabling the Red Army to overrun the Western provinces of Germany. Catastrophically for the future of Europe, there would be no meeting on the River Oder.
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On 17 Ramadan 2 AH, Abu l-Qasim Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was defeated by his opponents among the Quraish at Mecca in the Hejaz of western Arabia at the Battle of Badr. Of the Quraishi army from the time it left Mecca until its arrival just outside Badr, several things are worth noting: although many Arab armies brought their women and children along on campaigns both to motivate and care for the men, the Meccan army did not. Also, the Quraish engaged Bedouin allies they had scattered throughout the Hijaz. The Quraish outnumbered the Muslims by five to one, gifting them an easy victory.
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Something incredible happened just after the Battle. It was revealed to Muhammed that he would be a prophet, not a military / political leader - ' a messenger'. After all, only Allah knows what tomorrow may bring. For years Muhammad had been the butt of scorn and insults, but after this spectacular and unsought success everybody in Arabia would have to take him seriously. ~ Karen Armstrong, Muhmmad: Biography of the Prophet 1992.
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