Israel and the Carthaginian Peace

WastelandThumbby Glenn Fairman
The great Roman historian Livy informs us that during the times of the Third Punic War, Cato the Elder ended every session of the Roman Senate with the phrase, “Carthago Delenda Est:” Carthage must be destroyed. Having suffered bitterly while battling for the supremacy of the Mediterranean with the fiery North African city state, rumors of Hannibal again amassing an army to confront his mortal enemy stirred the hearts of the Roman people, whose armies had once been soundly defeated in battle scant leagues from the city gates.

The Carthaginians honored their God Baal with human sacrifice, and it is said that Hamilcar Barca baptized his warrior son in the white hot hatred of Rome, sealing the fates of two distinct worlds that would vie on a multiplicity of battlegrounds for the perpetuation of their disparate visions of the world. And though the Carthaginian general’s engineering of the Roman catastrophe at Cannae and fifteen years of fighting and winning battles in a hostile environment could have eclipsed the Latin dream of extending its “Pax Romana” throughout the known earth, it would be at Zama that Carthage was thought to be irrevocably broken. But unburied ghosts often return when only attended to with half measures.[pullquote]A curse may soon alight upon the hearts of men who loved ease more than justice, as well as on the human hands that desired revenge more than peace or the natural safekeeping of their own flesh and blood…[/pullquote]

It is said that Scipio Africanus Minor, relying upon the good auspices that Hannibal was again seeding his loathing into Rome’s enemies through alliances, thought it prudent to invoke martial necessity and erase Carthage from the globe. It is reported in Livy’s Histories that the men who were not slain in battle were sold along with the women and children into slavery as retribution and the spoils of war. Moreover, every structure was razed to the ground, its rubble hauled away and the land itself was sown with salt so that it could be inhabited no more. In the end, Rome solved its Mediterranean dilemma and this bitter enemy would never again arise to trouble her again.

In our modernity, the phrase Carthaginian Peace is synonymous with any ruthless outcome supported by a treaty that creates a state of total submission in the defeated. The Versailles treaty that proceeded from The Great War was thought to be such a one; and yet, the fact that Germany rose again to embroil the world in an even greater cataclysm is testament to this being a falsehood. However, it is not my intent to deal with treaties but in half-measures – in particular, the half-measures and martial restraint that Israel has utilized as policies in dealing with both the Palestinian Question and Arab aggression in general….and how they shall proceed now that things have come thoroughly undone.

Let us be frank. Oslo is dead. Or to put a finer point on it: Oslo never saw the light of day. Indeed, of all the myriad of ceasefires, treaty negotiations and understandings that have been born of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not one of them has ever been countenanced in good faith on the part of the latter. To the Arab collective consciousness, the idea of a lasting peace with the Jew is anathema, and any negotiations, however earnestly lauded in the halls of the credulous liberal West, have been couched within the cunning anti-Semitic consciousness as a form of diplomatic warfare: a concerted effort of tactical compression and decompression expended not towards a state of hostile cessation, but towards the destruction of the “Zionist entity.” Stated in fundamental terms, Israel desires peace and those in the ersatz Palestinian state desire an ethnic cleansing of the hated Jew; and no common middle ground exists where the fragile lily of reconciliation might grow. Peace cannot survive in such a brutally inhospitable soil.

For anyone who has honest eyes not blinded with the ideological mendacity of the Left or deluded with the juvenile relativism of moral commensurability in defining these embittered competing adversaries, this is the current unvarnished state of affairs. The “Land for Peace” chimera has been broken irrecoverably with the Jewish unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, and even the liberal Historian and Israeli gadfly Benny Morris has admitted that the Arabs have never been honest in their dealings. When Hamas gained virtual control of Gaza the fate of the region was sealed, since within its own charter there is embedded the unassailable call for the destruction of the Jew.

In light of this, what is to be done? No sovereign nation can allow itself to suffer silently while its virulent neighbor rains death down upon it. As I write, radical Islamicist elements are warring for the control of Egypt and Syria and have brought the Golan region back into play, while Southern Lebanon is armed to the teeth with thirty thousand Hezbollah rockets, to say nothing of the morbid specter of nuclear Iran. Israel can ill afford any longer to play its dangerous game of appeasing the stunningly stupid West: which has become drunk on borrowed wealth and Arab oil. The time for half measures is nearing its culmination. The snake and its brood must be burnt from their haunts. Cathargo delenda est.

A people whose single minded fanaticism has become pathological has ceased to reason in its own best interests. By using its population as willing accomplices by placing military installations and rocket batteries under and adjacent to mosques, schools, and apartment complexes, such a moral calculus is self revelatory of the inner workings of the Palestinian mind. Primarily, it devalues the life of its own people in service to its cause: a cause that would not hesitate in destroying the same enemy domestic targets if given half the chance – just as it justifies the bombing of buses or the decapitation of infants in their cribs. Similarly, such a conscience betrays its own relative ethical barbarism by holding the IDF hostage to its own elevated moral restraints – conflicted warriors who are loathe to inflict unnecessary injury and death, even in their just attempts to quell the rockets and mortar teams that hide cowardly behind quivering human shields. We cannot lose sight of the reality that the outrage that attends collateral damage inflicted by the IDF and by Hamas is incommensurately perceived in both the Arab and Western world. Such is the handicap that Israel is hobbled with in waging a war of necessary self-preservation.

As the Carthaginians were willing and complicit in sacrificing their children to Baal’s fire in order to achieve their ends, so the Palestinians have so corrupted their sons and daughters with the aggressive enculturation of death that little innocence is left to be found in Gaza, or in any corner of the earth where Islamicists hold sway over men’s minds. Israel may soon have to wage a hot belligerent war on multiple fronts with an enemy that is as merciless as any Hannibal or Hitler. That she may have to contemplate what has been up to now the unthinkable is the rotten spawn of the current state of affairs in this darkest of regions. A curse may soon alight upon the hearts of men who loved ease more than justice, as well as on the human hands that desired revenge more than peace or the natural safekeeping of their own flesh and blood—fathers and mothers who knowingly conscripted their own to unholy fires consecrated to the god of this world.
Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at

Glenn Fairman

About Glenn Fairman

This entry was posted in Politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Israel and the Carthaginian Peace

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Glenn, you have captured something that many people are confused about. How people can take the plain facts of the world and not only find moral equivalency between Israel and her surrounding neighbors (including Palestinians) but moral superiority in those neighbors is still something that somewhat baffles me, but is truly monstrous in its implications.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    My suggestion several years ago was a population exchange, like those between (for example) Greece and Turkey after World War I. Israel would give up the southern Negev (including the port of Elath) to the Palestinians, but would acquire the rights to most of the West Bank (I figure that Jordan can have an extension to west Jerusalem and Ramallah via Jericho). This would give Israel the traditional land of Israel and Judah, with reasonable defensible borders, while the Palestinians would have the heart of old Philistia (from which they draw their name) and the area from which the Nabataean Arabs entered Palestine. The “right of return” would apply to any Arab who wants to move to one of the Palestinian parcels.
    But of course, this is based on the reality that the Arabs will never get along with the Jews (or anyone else non-Muslim, for that matter) for the foreseeable future, which is emotionally unacceptable to world elites.
    Another useful approach, which would be equally unacceptable to those same elites, involves the concept of reprisal. For example, we could make it a principle that every time the jihadists or Arab nationalists kill an America, we wipe out one of their towns (and the idea of a Carthaginian peace is VERY relevant here; I favor annihilating the entire population, destroying all the buildings, bulldozing them flat, and then sowing salt over what’s left). Our jihadist enemies have adopted the principle Chivington made notorious at Sand Creek (“nits grow into lice”), and I consider it appropriate to treat them as they treat everyone else.

    • faba calculo says:

      You would be hard pressed to do the jihadists a bigger favor than allowing them to force another American atrocity whenever they wanted. They would care nothing for the village that would be destroyed and would no doubt greatly benefit from an endless stream of Mai Lai’s.

      • Kurt NY says:

        You know, I view the true challenge of terrorism to be eschatological. I think the root of terrorism is basically psychological, an outwardly directed rage reflecting a misplaced sense of powerlessness, to which, unfortunately certain aspects of Islam lend the aura of acceptability. And its perpetrators, consumed by darkness themselves, wish to drag the rest of us into the darkness with them.

        We believe ourselves, and Western civilization in general, to represent what is good and right in humanity, that we stand atop the shoulders of the thousands of suffering generations before us as the trustees of the sacred trust of human progress. And this is our challenge – to be true to that trust and to pass it on enhanced or at least unharmed to our posterity.

        When we choose to respond to atrocity with atrocity, we harm our souls and our cause. The logic of terrorism is nihilism – confronted with violence directed at us and given shelter within a certain population, the logic is to confront annihilationist attack with even more devastating response – genocide. Islamic terrorists attack us in the belief that we will not respond with such, and that gives them strength. But for us to stoop to that level is to forfeit our souls, to spit on the sacrifices of those to whom we owe our present state of advancement, and to condemn our children to more of the same.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I can understand your point. It has been argued that this is how The Troubles were ended in British Ulster: by finally rejecting such a tit-for-tat approach. I don’t think this is possible with the jihadists, which is why I think the Roman approach to Carthage is the best (or, if you prefer, least bad) available option that can actually work. Eventually, either the jihadists would stop murdering (or at least would be reduced to a manageable level), or their population base would be exterminated. Either way, problem solved.
          Note, too, that the Israeli-Palestinian exchange I proposed is completely separate from the Carthaginian response to jihadist mass terrorism.

          • faba calculo says:

            That raises the question of what would be a manageable level of murdering. Given the numbers I mentioned, they might be at it already.

        • faba calculo says:

          Well said. In terms of ourselves, you’ve captured the issue neatly. And while I agree with much of what you’ve said about the terrorists themselves, I believe that there is also an issue of deadly pragmatism to what they do, especially the suicide bombers. They know Israel is stronger than they, so they strike at their weakest in such a way that prevents them from ever being captured or punished, leaving the giant in a helpless state of frustration.

          That’s why, despise the idea of punishing one person for the sins of another though I do, I make an exception for the Israeli practice of destroying the homes of suicide bombers, even if they had merely lived there and that puts their families out into the street. The Israelis must be retaliatory. Their enemies have given them no choice. But they mustn’t appear to the world (and especially to themselves) as being indiscriminate.

          • Kurt NY says:

            Agreed that for Israel to destroy the houses of terrorists is entirely acceptable, even unremarkable. I also think that for them, on their occasional retaliatory raids into Gaza, to destroy buildings in which weapons have been stored would also be appropriate.

            But I also think it in their long term interest to keep as low a profile as consistent with their security needs, in the hopes that, barring continuing gross provocation (no matter how justified), eventually enough Palestinians will get sufficiently disgusted with the violence to insist on an end to it.

            • faba calculo says:

              It sounds like you and I are totally in agreement here.

            • LibertyMark says:

              “eventually enough Palestinians will get sufficiently disgusted with the violence to insist on an end to it.”

              If only. We’re the Israelis and the Palestinians operating in a void, then maybe you are on to something.

              Unfortunately, the world has taken sides, one on the other, and mainly not for Israel. (I saw a pro-Palestinian bumper sticker just this last week – along a repugnant COEXIST bumper sticker -go figure). Given thus, with access to world wide media like never before, the Palestinians will NEVER relent on their blood feud. IMHO.

              • Kurt NY says:

                Unfortunately, you might be entirely right. But then again, no one saw the Northern Ireland situation resolving itself, basically a case of the affected populations having had enough of the bloodshed and crying enough, even though doing so for the IRA meant foregoing unification with the Free State.

                Way I see it, Israel is best advised to mostly ignore the situation as much as they can, keeping as light a presence in Palestinian areas as consistent with its security. And if eventually the Palestinians come around – great. And if they don’t, so long as they can’t kill any more Israelis, who cares? Let ’em stew in their petty hatreds and condemn themselves to poverty.

  3. faba calculo says:

    It’s difficult to see what Israel can do in its current position. Certainly, if the Palestinians represented an existential threat Israel could (and would (and should)) do whatever it took, consequences be damned. But they don’t.

    First, consider the terrorist angle, and, for simplicity, assume that all terrorist attacks inside of Israel (see:* are the works of Palestinians. Even then, the fact of the matter is that terrorist attacks and the resulting deaths and injuries to Israelis have been on a sharp downward trend for almost a decade. If Israel wasn’t forced to think the unthinkable then, it’s hard to see how they are likely to be forced to do so (vis a vis the Palestinians, at least) in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, looking at the peaks and valleys in the attacks and their resulting carnage, it’s obvious that times of out-and-out war have done nothing to quell violence and civilian deaths. Quite the opposite.

    Second, there is Israel’s standing in the world. While it may be tempting to think that Israel need not care what the rest of the world (with or without the exception of the US) thinks about Israel, that would be a mistake. Moreover, there’s Israel’s standing with itself to thought of. One of Israel’s greatest strengths, especially when compared to her Arab opponents, has been her unity. Even a mid-scale war without unquestioning need would have a strongly divisive effect in Israel. Any more permanent solution to the problem of the Palestinians would be vastly worse. And it would be nothing short of a disaster for Israel to undertake some permanent (here I envision a massive ethnic cleansing, not a killing) solution to the Palestinian question and then be forced, via a combination of internal and external pressure, to undo it. That would be the worse of all possible worlds.

    Third, there is the issue of the Palestinians Israel would be all but incapable of uprooting, which is to say the Israeli Arabs. These now constitutes 20% of Israel’s population and are mostly full citizens. Even large scale participation of Israeli Arabs (say by several thousand of them) in domestic terrorism is very unlikely to provide the necessary legal justification (and here I’m speaking of Israeli law) for expelling them as a group.

    Fourth, there’s Iran. Bottom line: Israel has bigger fish to fry right now.

    Fifth, if there’s to be no ethnic cleansing, then Israel kind of needs a peace deal that will let them decamp from at least the Arab parts of the occupied territories and draw a clear line of distinction between what is Israel and what isn’t. Combine both Israel proper and the occupied territories, and even now, Jews may well be a minority. Wait a few more years, and it will be a certainty.

    This is certainly not to say that peace is imperative now. Polls of Palestinians and Israelis tend to show that a majority of both countries would accept a deal along the lines of the Clinton parameters and/or what was being negotiated at Taba back in 2001 (or was it 2000?). The question, of course, is would the Palestinians keep their word of non-violence (which they could fairly easily at least partially renege on) in exchange for an Israeli evacuation (which they couldn’t quite so easily go back on). Here, polls of the Palestinians offer much less to be sanguine about.

    Fortunately, with the world (hell, even the Arab world) growing weary of the Palestinians, the people who never miss and opportunity to miss an opportunity, and the growing quiet in terms of casualties, Israel does have an alternative to premature peace: the status quo.

    * I’ve no idea who this Johnston is, but he wrote and article backing the invasion of Iraq, and most of his sources are Israeli, so he doesn’t sound like a leftist hater of Israel.

  4. Kurt NY says:

    The difference between a false peace and true victory is that in the latter, there is a clear victor and it establishes a new reality to which the losers must accommodate themselves, acknowledging themselves to be beaten and thereby forcing them to accept a lesser outcome for themselves than that for which they had fought. Peoples go to war because of irreconcilable differences which neither are willing to moderate sufficiently to meet the other’s minimum conditions.

    In the case of the Israelis and Palestinians, the overwhelming majority of Israelis have long accepted, if reluctantly, the concept of two states but the Palestinians never have, as witness the Israelis’ past offers for such a setup (including a share of Jerusalem) and the Palestinians’ rejection of all of that unless Israel accepts a “right of return” for Palestinians to re-settle within the borders of Israel – in other words, two states, so long as they are both Palestinian. Israel would be effectively dismantled.

    And the Palestinians do so because the Israelis’ victories have never been final, foreign powers never allowing them to triumph sufficiently for the Arabs to get that their defeat is final and they must adapt. Hamas lobs rockets into Israel with the intent of inflicting maximum civilian casualties, deliberately hiding their arsenals in populated areas because they know the Israelis will not “go Roman” on them and kill civilians if it can be helped. And any Israeli incursion will be limited and temporary. In such conditions, they will never make peace because they don’t have to.

    Agreed that it is silly to blame Israel in this situation. The West is demanding them to accept conditions no sane nation would in order to appease the unappeasable. The only real hope for peace in the Middle East is for the passage of time to convince people, similarly to how the Northern Ireland situation resolved itself, that they have had enough needless bloodshed.

    • faba calculo says:

      I think the biggest problem, when it finally comes time to do a peace deal, will be the Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary. The holiest site in Judaism is at the bottom of the hill, and the third holiest (and first holiest outside of Saudi Arabia) is at the top.

      I’ve always felt that we were likely to get to a final deal until the Palestinians were given sovereignty over the latter and the Jews over the former.

  5. RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

    Israel must feel alone ands isolated in ways Rome never did.

    If Greece is the Cradle of Western Civilization, if Rome is the father, then Israel is the mother.

    Yet Europe despises Israel perhaps more then the Islamic world and Israel’s only ally the US is likely not to offer help. Why, the Left like Europe despises Israel because they despise capitalism, military strength and Jews.

    The libertarian movement despises Israel because the US gives her money from the backs of the America Tax payer.

    and the ‘far right’ what ever that might be but those who cry ‘Remember the Liberty” are usually not voting for Dems would gleefully rejoice if Jewish blood is spilled.

    If history is to show us anything though is when Jews suffer they do not do so in a vacuum for the forces that seek to blight out the jews are forces of tyranny which are shedding blood elsewhere too.

    I fear for Israel and with her I feel for our Civilization.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I don’t know what you mean about the far right. I’ve never seen any indication that anyone on the right talks about the Liberty; I suspect it’s used by liberal anti-Zionists (insincerely, since they don’t actually care about it). But I’ll admit I don’t go to Bircher sites or such.
      I agree about the importance of Israel to modern civilization. In particular, certain scenes in the Old Testament — such as Nathan confronting David over the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah — provide a key basis for arguing that even the most powerful ruler is subject to the moral Law.

      • RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

        Sorry I wasn’t clear, I put ‘far-right’ in quotations as a way of showing its how the left defines far right, those who are simply haters and xenophobic. Hard to classify this lot as political conservative or liberal. I agree with you though, push the haters to reveal why the despise jews or Israel its usually because inherent left leaning beliefs or basic irrationality uncoupled from any sane political principles.

    • faba calculo says:

      I doubt that it’s Israel’s capitalism that is making Europe hate her. Even Heritage ranks Israel’s economic freedom as “moderately free” and ranks it 51st in the world, one spot below Mexico and eighteen places below Jordan.

      It also places them below Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Georgia, Lithuania, Iceland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Norway, Belgium, Cyprus, Macedonia, Spain, and Hungary.

      I mean, when you’re behind ALL of the Scandinavian countries in terms of economic freedom as measured by the Heritage Foundation, whatever they’re hating you for isn’t your capitalism.

      You have to remember, Israel was founded by a bunch of socialists. There was dissent against it from the start, but the parties that were against didn’t come into power until after the Yom Kippur War. That’s actually one of the great things about Netanyahu: he’s been trying to undo some of this, but the red diapers still show.

      Frankly, I’ve always thought that the European sellout of Israel had a much simpler explanation: money. Whatever their superior know-how, Israel has a hard time competing against people with an ocean of money ten feet under the soil when the contest is one of bribery.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        There’s a lot to be said for the influence of oil and the money it brings. (In Frederik Pohl’s novel The Cool War, Israel found an interesting way to take care of it, a shaped nuclear charge that led to “the Abu Dhabi firestorm”.) But one can never forget that anti-Semitism didn’t die just because Hitler exposed where it can lead; it merely went underground for a while, and anti-Zionism makes an easy way to bring it back.
        Also, one must remember that liberals have a reflexive rejection of those they consider “overdogs” (my own term for their concept) and an equally reflexive approval of underdogs. The 6-Day War switched Israel from underdog to overdog, and at least in the US it caused Israel to lose a lot of liberal support.
        And now, of course, the increasing Muslim population of Europe (and they all get to vote) encourages increased acceptance (at the least) of anti-Semitism. (The idea of appeasement is that after the crocodile has eaten the sacrificial victim, it won’t by hungry. The problem is that eventually it is hungry again.)

      • RobL_V2 RobL_V2 says:

        Sorry I wasn’t clear again. The Left despises Israel for their irrational belief israel represents imperial apartheid, a state that has abandoned its socialist roots in favor of capitalism (albeit not completely), is a State of military vigor and has a general empathy with ‘underdog’ Islamist Jihadis.

        Europe hates Israel because they are jews.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I recall when Jimmy the Creep attacked Israel for following apartheid policies. (By the way, according to Walter Williams, apartheid is pronounced “apart hate”, which I find very appropriate.) The anti-Semite ex-president carefully ignored the fact that the adjacent Arab countries (especially Palestine) are all officially Judenrein, and that there are Arab citizens in Israel who not only had more individual rights than in other Arab countries (after all, individual rights don’t REALLY matter to liberals other than when used to advance liberalism), but in fact often represented the political balance of power there.

        • Kurt NY says:

          Rob, I think you are right to an extent – Europe hates Israel as a form of anti-Semitism. But I think it goes beyond that. Europe depends on Middle Eastern oil and has imported millions of unassimilated Muslims from that area, to whom anti-Semitism is like breathing air.

          Israel’s existence forces Europe to take uncomfortable positions which tick off its trading partners in the Middle East and its growing and restive Muslim minorities. And, similarly to how the appeasenik British and French saw the Czechs as forcing them to make awkward choices before WWII and resented them for it, they do so now towards the Israelis, with a strong push from, as you mentioned, a long history of anti-Semitism.

      • George Washington says:

        Israel founded by Socialists? Have you heard of the Crusades? Guess who started that,eh. The land that Israel was formed from was given to Israel by the Brits, who won the land in WW1, was owned by the Ottoman Empire. The rule of the Ottoman Empire in the Holy Land, which began in the early 16th century following their defeat of the Mamluks, lasted until 1922 (the end of World World I) after which Great Britain gained control of Palestine. Do you think that was a Bed of Roses,eh.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          The founders of modern Israel (such as David Ben-Gurion) were in fact socialists. Even the more conservative types, such as the leaders of the Irgun and the Stern Group (Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir respectively), were economic interventionists. Netanyahu has been a rare Israeli who favors free enterprise, and he’s never had a clear majority in favor of it.

          But even with that, the Israelis are still far better than their Arab/Muslim enemies.

  6. I don’t think that any discussion of the Middle East mess is complete without looking honestly at how old this Arab/Israeli conflict is. It started with the feud between Sarah and her servant, and their respective sons Isaac and Ishmael. It intensified with the con Jacob pulled on Esau. Frankly, a people who can hold a grudge for over 4,000 years isn’t likely to accept any compromise. They intend to kill the Jews and they mean it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *