A new stop for Obama in London: what Hadrian did

I loved this Martin Kettle suggestion:

However, senator, we also now advise a late change to your London schedule. The truth is that you have a lot more to offer the UK politicians than they have to offer you. So we propose cutting back your facetime with Brown and the rest in favour of something much more photogenic that we think would benefit you more. That something is a visit to the British Museum’s brand new exhibition about the Emperor Hadrian. This may seem a bit left-field but here’s the reason why it couldn’t be more relevant to you today.

You see, senator, Hadrian’s predecessor Trajan had staked everything on conquering Mesopotamia, which of course is the modern Iraq. At first Trajan successfully persuaded Romans that the war was going well, but in fact the mission was overstretched and gradually his campaign was undermined by a widespread local insurgency. So when Hadrian became emperor of Rome in 117 AD, just about the first thing he did after his inauguration was to withdraw the Roman legions from Mesopotamia, Assyria and Greater Armenia. All this came as a shock to the Roman psyche, which had been nurtured on endless tales of triumph, but in the end it made much better sense to bring the boys home. It meant Hadrian was able to consolidate Rome’s boundaries and concentrate on the military campaigns that truly threatened Rome’s security.

Senator, you should know that not everything about Hadrian was as inspired and successful as the withdrawal from Mesopotamia. There are some sections of the British Museum exhibition that you should definitely avoid visiting until after election day. In particular there is a searing section which describes how he was responsible for killing hundreds of thousands of Jews during a revolt against Roman rule starting in 132 AD. So be certain to say very publicly that Hadrian offers eternal lessons both for good and for evil. Apart from that, the Hadrian visit will be all gain. It will show you understand the world better than President Bush. And in the end, that’s what this campaign is all about anyway, senator.

One thought on “A new stop for Obama in London: what Hadrian did

  1. london chat

    Obama rocks! Even Boris Johnson broke with convention and has sided with him, I think he’ll do America good and put them back on better terms with the rest of the world.


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