Let the Games Begin

In Caesar's Ghost by Barry StraussLeave a Comment

I summoned Caesar’s Ghost to enliven the dog days of August.

“Hail, Professor!” he said, as he rose from the Underworld.

 “Hail, Caesar!” One set of games closed this weekend in London and another opened in Washington. Don’t you think so, Dictator?

No. Other games of even greater moment took place in Cairo. Egyptian President Morsi fired his generals. This was a bold move, if predictable – it comes from the playbook of Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan.

What will the result be?

 

Either Egypt will become a civilian regime, with the military tamed, or the military will flex its muscles and push Morsi aside. Either Egypt will become more democratic and more Islamist or less democratic and more secular. And where Egypt goes, the Arab world will follow.

Even Syria?

They play their games with drawn swords. But even with the support of Russia and Iran, it will be difficult for Assad to continue the contest for long, especially if Egypt continues in its current direction.

Blood and iron! Can’t we talk of more pleasant things?

Indeed. Dictators love the Olympics. What other public event would be so shameless as to feature a public-relations ploy invented by the Nazis – the Olympic torch relay? What other event bows down so low before the big battalions? After all, while the Olympics seem to showcase individual achievement, they remind people of what really matters: flags, money, and population figures. That is, what really matters to dictators – look elsewhere if you want to measure the public interest.

How so?

Think of the medal count. Germany and Canada have the healthiest economies in the G-8, and the best leaders too. Yet Germany was outclassed by those tottering giants, Russia and the USA, as well as by Britain, which pours vast sums of public money into elite sports that would better be spent elsewhere. And it was outclassed too by China, of course, which remains a dictatorship. As for Canada, it won fewer medals than Ukraine. Yet, which country is better off? Viva Toronto!

Well then, can we finally talk about American politics?

If we must.

Wasn’t Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as Vice-President bold?

It will enliven what was shaping up as an exceedingly dull election. Obama has practically disappeared under the weight of a dismal economy. Romney is more interesting as the bad guy of the opposition’s attack ads than he is in real life. Ryan, by contrast, will march both parties off to war. This could be an interesting contest after all.

And who will win, dictator?

The media – they are now guaranteed an audience for their election coverage.

No, I mean, who will win the election?

But Caesar’s Ghost had already left.

 

 

Barry StraussLet the Games Begin

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