Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

Whatever Nato thinks it might achieve in Afghanistan, it is not at all clear that the Afghans themselves are in favour of it. In a remarkable speech put in the mouth of the Caledonian leader Calgacus before the battle of Mons Graupius in AD 84, the Roman historian Tacitus articulates with extraordinary precision the feelings that many Afghans must have about the American presence today. For 'Britons' reads 'Afghans', for 'Romans' read 'Americans' throughout.

'When I consider the crisis that drives us to battle, I am convinced that the united front you are showing today will mean the dawn of liberty for the whole of Britain.

Everyone to a man is here, together. None has ever tasted slavery. Battle for the brave, for us, is the road to glory; for those cowards, it is the only escape-route they have.

'Whatever the outcome of earlier battles against Romans, our country has never abandoned hope, because we are here - tucked away in her most secret places, the noblest Britons of them all, our country's last resort. Our eyes free from the defilement of tyranny, we, the last men on earth, have enjoyed the protection of our isolation and obscurity. …

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