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Trump Is Our Cato the Elder, and China Our Carthage

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

As Western Civilization declines, America is more frequently being compared to Rome and for good reason. The American age is seemingly coming to an end, with China ready to seize the world right out from under us. A parallel can be seen in how Carthage stood in the way of Roman supremacy during the Punic Wars. Carthage arguably posed the greatest obstacle to Rome preserving their way of life, in the days when the republic was expanding into an empire. The Roman people found their willingness to fight when it mattered, with a body politic still willing to unite and resist existential threats.


America’s willingness to stand seems much weaker by comparison. The pursuit of instant gratification has transformed into a societal obsession with avoiding struggle and maximizing pleasure at all costs. Complacency has swept over the masses, who care more about the next iPhone release or football game than civic engagement. As America wanes, President Donald Trump has sought to capitalize on America’s strengths and breathe life back into an ailing nation. Trump’s rise to power may be nothing more than an aberration and the last gasp of a dying culture. Regardless, Americans must take full advantage of the opportunity he presents to combat the Carthage of our age: China.

China is a formidable adversary, probably more pernicious than most even realize. Their influence-peddling schemes throughout the world are designed to be effective based on the miscalculations of American policy. They have set their sights on Africa as their primary foreign policy focus, using the continent's antipathy toward the West as a way to build a bridge. According to estimated population growth figures, Africa has all other continents beaten by a wide margin for many generations to come. China has come promising prosperity and infrastructure that is desperately needed. Africa will gain in the short term from the Faustian bargain, but China's goodwill comes with strings attached. China will inevitably export their brutal policies of social control once it gets enough of a foothold on the continent.

If China’s ambitions succeed, they will impose the ghastliest form of tyranny that mankind has ever known on every inch of the planet. The ambitions begin with smart cities where individuals are crammed into densely populated quarters, where privacy is no longer conceivable. Society will be organized on social credit scores, unknown by all except for state enforcers, in which citizens are forced to conform in obsequious to an open air panopticon at all times. Cameras will be mounted on every corner where real-time monitoring makes the all-seeing eye a pervasive reality. And tech corporations such as Google, as Peter Thiel pointed out, are more than happy to enable their sinister inclinations. China's calculated brilliance has allowed them to exploit the free market ethos of Americans and their love for the almighty dollar. Thus, they have carefully managed their economy so resources pour into their nation as their primary rival is hollowed out. China is biding their time waiting patiently until the day comes to pull the rug out from under their dilapidated, quasi-defeated enemy. The tumble will be sharp. Perhaps it has already started.


When Roman Senators lacked the will to fight Carthage, it was Cato the Elder who stood against the current and led the charge to preserve Rome's way of life. Screaming "Carthago delenda est," roughly translating to "Carthage must be destroyed," Cato inflamed the passions of the people. As the Roman Senate was too reticent to take action - similar to our do-nothing Congress - Cato spoke the truth about the necessity of war. Although Trump's trade war with China is different than the Third Punic War, it is just as pressing for the future of our republic as it was for that of Rome. America is blessed to have a president who understands the problems at hand. He wants to revitalize the industrial base, the national spirit, Christian values, respect for law and order, family, and our civic culture. He uses the primary weapons at his disposal - the tariff and the bully pulpit - to accomplish his goals. He has put a renewed onus upon China as a threat, when most American politicians were bought off by them decades ago.

If the history books are written fairly, Trump will be remembered among the greatest American presidents, and his controversial style will be vindicated. As up for the challenge as he may be, the American public does not necessarily share their leader's resolve. One man standing up against virtually every institutional force in a culture that has been systemically fractured, even with the tenacity and assiduousness of Trump, may not be enough. Whereas the Romans could be awakened, the American public – particularly the youth enchanted by socialism and entranced by technology – seems unable to do so. Trump has connected with the working class and the people who remember what America once was, but they are literally a dying breed struggling to maintain political relevancy. Trump gives us our last opportunity to escape colonization and servitude without suffering great ruin, but the time is quickly running out.


Trump has emerged as a modern Cato the Elder attempting to snap us out of our national slumber. Our nation's economies are still symbiotic enough, with China certainly gaining the upper hand but not yet having it, for the United States to make a power play. Opinion polls show that Americans realize the imbalance must be remedied, and are willing to sacrifice, but to what extent? Are they willing to take the substantial economic pain of a protracted trade war? Are they willing to reject the false idols of materialism and consumerism? Can they reverse the sweeping and ominous cultural drift, and do so quickly? If Americans are able reverse course, America may be able to last as long as Rome. But if America cannot summon the resolve for this civilizational clash, the world will belong to China, and individual liberty will belong to the past.

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