That is, Pompey the general, not the city.
Victor Davis Hanson writes about The Art of Seaborne Humiliation
Over 1,000 pirates operate off the Somali coast. In 2009 they attempted 214 attacks on private shipping, well over twice the number tried in 2008. They remind ocean-goers that the world’s great navies cannot ensure safe passage through the Gulf of Aden. And they count on Western publics’ contextualizing their criminality — by adducing poverty, past exploitation, or lack of Western humanitarian aid — rather than demanding punishment for it.
Of course, the classical way of ending piracy — as Pompey demonstrated with the Cilician outlaws — is to combine naval interception with assaults against the criminals’ home ports. But again, given the asymmetry involved in piracy — wealthy Western ship- or boat-owners versus desperate “others” — who wants to risk killing poor Third World civilians just to hit the pirates who live among them? The final scenes of Black Hawk Down give us a taste of what the shooting might look like on CNN.
Many other such incidents could be cited — think of the 1968 capture of the Pueblo by North Korea or the 1975 taking of the Mayaguez by the Khmer Rouge. While the details differ, the general playbook remains the same: Some sort of incident is staged at sea, where witnesses and boundaries are often nonexistent, in order to provoke a response that will work to the provoker’s benefit.
In each of these cases, the instigator dares a powerful Western nation to retaliate and thereby stupidly endanger its collective good life over a small matter of 19th-century-style national pride. And if violence follows, the props almost always ensure that the Western nation is transmogrified in the blink of an eye into a bully, pushing around the Other where it has no business being in the first place. No wonder that the Western nation usually instead sends diplomats to work out some sort of restrained apology, which gives the provocateur stature and pours more humiliation upon the provoked — another milestone on a long road of weakening Western stature and influence.
What might change the rules of seaborne humiliation?
Go read the rest, but the answer has to do with growing a spine.