A Fable

People who don’t know how bad war is always underestimate its horrors, and get themselves into unnecessary wars. Many {65|2400} years ago, the West tottered on the edge of disaster. A powerful enemy {Germany|Persia} threatened to conquer the world and destroy freedom. But one country {America|Athens} led the battle against the enemy and triumphed, saving the world from tyranny. This great victory ushered in a new golden age in which {America|Athens} led the world in science, art, and trade. Realizing the need for unity, a new international organization {United Nations|Delian Confederacy} was formed to insure that the world would never again be threatened by tyranny.

At first, it looked as if a glorious new age had dawned. As the beneficent leader of the free world, {America|Athens} helped other countries and acted as the ultimate guarantor of their security. But after a while, {America|Athens} began to feel its power, and to regard its leadership as a right rather than a responsibility. It was furious that lesser nations in the {United Nations|Delian Confederacy} would dare question its policies. It often invaded small countries to enforce its own concept of justice. And when other countries lodged objections, it ignored them, thinking that its vastly greater power rendered their objections meaningless.

Slowly the goodwill that had been earned through so much sacrifice was dissipated by {America’s|Athens’} overbearing behavior. Diplomatic support for {America|Athens} declined, but the {Americans|Athenians} believed that they were so powerful that they did not need diplomatic support. Then {al-Qaeda|Sparta} declared war on {America|Athens}. Each side scored victories against the other. {America|Athens} was overcome with angry pride; a historian wrote that {America|Athens} was full of “young men whose inexperience made them eager to take up arms.“ Based on inaccurate information and a sense of self-righteousness, and placing its trust in a charismatic but unwise leader {Bush|Alcibiades}, {America|Athens} attacked {Iraq|Syracuse}. {America|Athens} claimed that it was defending {the Iraqi people|Leontini} against {Saddam’s|Syracuse’s} tyranny, but most other countries saw the attack as unjustified. Worse, {America|Athens} underestimated the amount of military force required to carry out the plan. Alarmed by this unprovoked attack, others began to provide aid to the resistance.

Eventually all of {Islam|Sicily} was united against {America|Athens}. The military adventure failed and {America|Athens} was defeated. Its economy was ruined by the costs of the war. The defeat signaled to the entire world the end of {American|Athenian} supremacy, and more countries turned against {America|Athens}. The government was consumed with political conflict and gross abuse of the laws; many people suffered from the political turbulence. Yet {America|Athens} still had the finest military in the world, and the conflict continued to grind on for more than a decade, with successes and failures on both sides.

Inevitably, the weight of numbers exacted its toll. The {American|Athenian} military was worn down by all the fighting. It took years for the {Americans|Athenians} to accept the brutal reality that they were no longer the greatest and most powerful country in the world. Exhausted by war, broken by poverty, torn apart by political discord, {America|Athens} negotiated a final humiliating end to the conflict. It never recovered, receding into the mists of history as a once-great nation broken by its own pride.