Barack Obama & Hadrian, A New Emperor, presented by 2008 Briton of the Year Neil MacGregor, British Museum Director : Hadrian, Obama and Iraq

Does history repeat itself? You decide.

The parallels between the ancient Roman Emperor Hadrian (famed for Hadrian’s Wall) and the new US President Barack Obama are remarkable. Watch the video below about Hadrian from the British Museum, narrated by Neil MacGregor, voted Briton of the Year 2008 by the Times in his capacity as Director of the British Museum (and someone Obama might want to consult in resurrecting the American cultural landscape):

As you can hear in the video, both Obama and Hadrian inherit(ed) an empire in trouble and began (begin) their reigns by facing troublesome internal and external foes.

Hadrian’s first major move in office was to withdraw his troops from Mesopotamia (including present-day Iraq) and to solidify his own security against more pressing foes.

Hadrian went on to become one of the greatest – and predominantly peaceful – Roman Emperors of all time, extending the boundaries of the Roman Empire to their greatest expanse ever. As Guy Raz, Nieman fellow at Harvard University, writes:

“[Hadrian] shift[ed] money from the war in the east to deal with the public debts. He even found some extra cash to boost the economy with a massive public infrastructure project — things like repairing aqueducts, roads and bridges.

Finally, Hadrian did what few of his predecessors would even consider: He went on a road trip and visited nearly every corner of the empire. He knew that for Rome to bolster its influence, it had to show at least some respect for the nations so affected by its power. Hadrian also increased foreign aid and started a program of nation-building throughout the empire.

By and large, it worked.

Obama started his first term as President of the United States by asking the US military commanders for a “a responsible military drawdown from Iraq.”

A few days later, he announced his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, stating:

[I]f we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse. That is why I have proposed an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to immediately jumpstart job creation as well as long-term economic growth….

Below is Obama’s first weekly broadcast as President:

Beyond the inevitable partisan babble on the Beltway and elsewhere, is there any serious doubt out there among those with strong intellectual depth in their political and economic analysis that Obama will be successful?

Not in these quarters.

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