Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Fall of Rome

Technology makes fools out of attempts to map the past easily onto the present.

Some have made the comparison between refugees pouring into Europe and the barbarians pouring into the Roman Empire before the fall. It’s more of a fair comparison than some on the left might expect, in that a lot of the ‘barbarians’ coming into the Roman Empire really were peaceful migrants just looking for a better life, and a lot were even refugees fleeing scarier barbarians like the Huns.

The big difference that technology has made is in terms of military power. Back in Roman times, a bunch of reasonably peaceful barbarian migrants would have the weapons and training to fight on fairly even footing with the Roman legions. The legions had some advantages in technology and organization, but nothing like the difference between a modern military and whatever armaments refugees can pull together.

This equally applies to the scarier barbarians the refugees are escaping from. Rome didn’t have too much of a problem with barbarian immigrants except when it also had whole barbarian armies smashing across the frontier and laying waste to the provinces. To put it mildly, ISIS is unlikely to smash its way into Europe any time soon. They can launch terrorist attacks and such, but they have no path towards ever being a serious threat.

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