I was reading through a book about Ancient Greece this last week and came across something that boggled my mind. It made me wonder if the Democrats in Congress are better student's of history than I originally thought. Either way I couldn't help but feel that history was repeating itself 2500 years later.From 431 to 404 BC the Greek poli of Sparta and Athens were fighting a constant war with each other. Pericles was elected general (strategos), the "commander-in-chief," by the Athenian Assembly, and entrusted with the protection of Athens and the defeat of Sparta. When it became clear one year after voting to go to war that Sparta was proving to be a more worthy enemy than originally thought, the Assembly accused Pericles of being careless and incompetent, removing his title of strategos and threatening to imprison him.
In this speech before the Athenian Assembly in 430 BC, Pericles defended his honor and reminded them that they were every bit as responsible for the war as he was:
"I have summoned this special Assembly to remind you of certain facts, and to protest against some of your errors.
You, in your private affairs, are angry with me that I persuaded you to declare war. Therefore you are angry also with yourselves, that you voted with me. You took me to be what I think I am, superior to most in foresight, in oratorical ability--for if a man cannot explain himself clearly, he might as well have no foresight--in patriotism, and in personal honesty. But if you voted with me because you took me to be like this, you cannot fairly charge me with doing you any injury. I have not changed: it is you who have changed! A calamity has befallen you, and you cannot persevere in the policy you chose when all was well: it is the weakness of your resolution that makes my advise seem to have been wrong. It is the unexpected that most breaks a man's spirit.
You have a great city, and a great reputation; you must be worthy of them. Half the world is yours--the sea. Attica [the region surrounding Athens proper] you must think of as only a small garden, surrounding a mansion. If you shrink from the labors of sovereignty, do not claim any of its honors: and do not think that you can safely lay down an empire which is in fact a tyranny. For you, the alternative to empire is slavery. [The term "tyranny" did not mean the same thing as it does today. It referred to a government that ruled absolutely.]
The blows of the enemy we must bear with courage; those of the gods, with resignation. You must not blame me for misfortunes which are beyond calculation, unless you are going also to give me the credit for successes which were also uncalculated."
Athens lost the war with Sparta, and most scholars agree that it was more for loss of will than men or money. Perhaps the current Democrats in office understand this better than anyone.
I imagine that President Bush must feel a lot like Pericles did. After 9-11 Congress was so willing to stand beside him in the face of terror. Now, six years later, with the enemy still strongly opposing us, that same Congress has turned its back on our President and our military. They blame him for the choice that they themselves supported when spirits were high, yet turned away from when the chips were down. It's pathetic.
It's interesting how history has a way of repeating itself. Let's hope we too don't end up like Athens in the end.