One of the most important oracle “institutions” in ancient times was the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, Greece. It swayed much oracular power for nearly one thousand years, lasting well into the times of the Roman Empire after Greece lost its former status as the leading “world power” of the Mediterranean area.
In later years, some historians claimed that the Oracle could not be relied upon, that certain of its proclamations were ambiguous or even turned out to be false.
Nothing of that sort!
People just did not listen carefully! Instead, they interpreted the pronouncements as affirmation of their own preconceived ideas.
One of the most famous examples of such misinterpretations was by Croesus (595-546 B.C.), King of Lydia, today’s area of western Turkey. Croesus was extremely rich and had significant power. His prior missions of conquests went quite well; the empire grew in importance and dominance. Still, just to be on the safe side, before going on the war path, it couldn’t harm to get a favourable reading from the Oracle. So, he consulted the Oracle about his possible attack on the Persian (today’s Iran) empire of the day, led then by Cyrus II (600-530 B.C.).
War will destroy a great empire.
Just the answer Croesus had hoped for to launch his troops.
However, somewhere along the line, things went awry for Croesus and his troops. The empire that got destroyed was not that of his adversary Cyrus but his own.
If this story sounds vaguely familiar, it is no surprise. Throughout history, powerful regents of one sort or another made proclamations of absolute destruction and humiliation to others, only to be proven wrong in the end. In most of such cases, scores of people perished in such endeavours, from actual war to starvation from lack of food, etc.
Fast Forward to ca. 1950
After WWII, when nuclear bombs were developed and produced at breakneck speed by various entities, it was eventually recognized all around that the cumulative arsenal could destroy all life on Earth, several times over. As result, any strike and potential counter strike could lead to total annihilation of all civilizations, perhaps even wholesale destruction of all human life on earth.
This recognition, over time, gave rise to various conventions and treaties, including reduction of nuclear warheads (SALT Treaties), reduction of missiles, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology, etc.
However, despite such intentions, additional players emerged, developing their own technologies and powerful arsenals and new players emerging on the scene. Some nations view nuclear weaponry as an absolute necessity for their survival.
However, having nuclear bombs alone is not (or no longer) the only condition for that desire. As I surmise, it’s become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy; only those who could muster both the nuclear technology and demonstrated methods of potential delivery to the perceived enemy may be getting access to the coveted seat at the “Round Table.”
In fact, having superior methods of delivery, i.e., the ability to build fast and powerful rocketry systems, is rapidly becoming of critical importance.
The New Rocketry
This new rocketry has hitherto unheard of capabilities. Flying at speeds of 12,000 km/h (7,500 miles per hour) over thousands of miles at heights of many hundreds of miles, such missiles would be difficult to intercept, even with the help of fast super-computers and the most modern anti-missile technologies.
If you don’t know where such delivery systems may get launched from, where or when, it could be time to consult the Oracle once more.
I suspect the Oracle’s answer would still be
War will destroy a great empire.