Saturday, October 28, 2006

217 BC vs 2006 AD

The Republic of Utica wishes to apologize for its long absence. I began full time Grad School at the end of August and ended up having to relocate from Panama City Beach to Tallahassee in Florida. I will try to be present and comment on the upcoming elections. And if the Demagogue Party actually wins, we will need to watch them, catalogue their every villany. Believe you me, fellow citizens of the Republic, they are eager to pay us back for the freedom we've enjoyed under a Republican Congress. Remember the Fairness Doctrine and the attacks on the freedom of Anti-Abortion protesters. We will ALL get a dose of that under a Demagogue Congress. Not that the GOP Congress has been all that it should be. But under Speaker Pelosi, if such a terrible thing happens, you will be pining for the halcyon days of Speaker Hastert, I promise you.

This leads into what I wish to discuss on this first post in awhile. For those of you with photographic memories, I beg your indulgence. I covered this topic in my "Demagogy in History" post of October 19, 2005. But I feel we need a refresher on that, a reminder of what catastrophe Left Wing demagogues cause, not just in our own day, but going back even before the Year of Our Lord. I refer to the election campaign in 217 BC of the Roman Gaius Terentius Varro.

Rather than start at the beginning, I will start at how the story ends, for those of us who are not Classics Majors. On August 2, 216 Before Christ (I am tired of Leftist attacks on our culture. In response to their use of "CE" and "BCE" I will write out "In the Year of Our Lord" and "Before Christ" at least once in anything I write, if it is warranted. I encourage all of you out there to do the same, it will drive Libs crazy, and honor the Good Lord at the samne time) the Roman Army met the mercenary Army of Hannibal of Carthage at the Southern Italian hamlet of Cannae. Some estimate the Roman Army had eighty to ninety thousand Legionaries against Hannibal's polyglot fifty thousand, half of whom were Gauls who fought naked and often drunk or hung over, relying only on battle frenzy, rather than being well-armed and keeping formation. Another significant percentage of Hannibal's Army were Iberians, who, like the Gauls, were fierce, but lightly armed and armored. Only the Numidians and African Allied contingents were armed like Heavy Hoplites and Heavy Cavalry. In this pitiful force, there would have been several language barriers and cohesion virtually non-existant. And yet, the fifty thousand rag-tags, under the brilliant leadership of Hannibal, managed to surround the ninety thousand Romans and slaughter them wholesale, killing about sixty thousand (Rome, in one day, lost the entirety of what we lost in Vietnam and then some). One of Rome's two Consuls (their executive branch, equivalent to our president), Lucius Aemilius Paullus, died on the battlefield, along with many of Rome's best leaders. This was the greatest military disaster Rome had seen or would see for centuries. Many Romans thought that their Republic was lost and that Hannibal would become master of Italy after this defeat. The three greatest cities of Italy and Sicily- Capua, Syracuse and Tarentum all defected from the Roman cause to Hannibal. All had to be reduced by the Romans at great cost in lives on both sides, including the great scientist Archimedes, who was Syracusan. The war in Italy, which might have ended by 215 BC, would drag on to 202 BC because of the prestige gained by Hannibal and the various defections they engendered, due to Cannae.

Who was responsible for this disaster? It was all because of one man, the Leftist politician Gaius Terentius Varro.

First, it is important to remember Hannibal's background. He was the son of Hamilcar Barca, a brilliant general who did his best to salvage the Carthaginian position in Sicily during the First Punic War (264-241 BC). The Romans won in spite of Hamilcar's best efforts. A lesser man leading the Carthaginians would have been crushed years earlier. Rome took Sicily and also snatched the island of Sardinia during a mercenary revolt that Hamilcar put down. Hamilcar then took his young son to the Temple of Baal, on whose altar many young children had been slaughtered (yes, the Carthaginians were Canaanites who threw their seed to Molech (aka Baal) from the Bible), and forced him to place his hand on an animal sacrifice and swear to be an eternal enemy of Rome.

I interjected this to show how Hannibal, a Middle Easterner, was as dedicated to the destruction of the Roman Republic as Osama bin Laden is to the destruction of the American Republic. From one point of view, the War on Terror we now face is much like a continuation of the struggle between Roman Republicanism and the dire blood and flesh traders of Carthage.

This Hannibal had entered Italy, bent on Rome's destruction. He won two victories over Roman arms at the River Trebbia(218 BC) and Lake Trasimene (217 BC). He use the similar surround tactics he would employ at Cannae, although neither of these defeats were quite as catastrophic for Rome as Cannae would be. Still, in the aftermath of Trasimene, it was obvious that Rome was in crisis and it appointed a temporary Dictator, Quintus Fabius Maximus. Fabius was aware that none of the crop of Roman generals currently available had any hope of defeating Hannibal, including himself. He instituted "Fabian Tactics," a type of almost guerrilla warfare, involving small skirmishes with Hannibal's foraging parties. This made Hannibal's Army hungry and begin to slowly bleed away soldiers it could not replace, being so deep inside Italy.

The story could have ended not long after this part, with Hannibal's Army melting away and the general being captured by Legionaries in 216 or 215 BC and merely being a historical footnote, someone who got lucky a couple of times and made the Romans cautious. But this was not to be.

Back in Rome, Left Wing demagogues began agitating against Fabius and other noble leaders. As it says in the Book of Ecclesiastes, "there is nothing new under the Sun." One of these demagogues, Gaius Terentius Varro, began making accusations that Hannibal was no real danger to Rome, merely, the war with him was deliberately being prolonged by the rich so the rights of the poor could be knuckled under by wartime exigency. Does this sound familiar? It should for those of you who see and hear those idiots who still talk about our war in Iraq as "Blood for Oil." It does seem fantastic to the modern reader of history that anyone could be so ignorant as to claim the war against Hannibal was a plot by the rich. And to someone reading history a hundred years from now, it will seem equally ignorant that people claimed that the War in Iraq was a war for oil profits. Just like the terrorists in Iraq, Hannibal caught wind of the Leftist opposition to the war with him and ordered that the estates of Fabius not be attacked or disturbed in any way. He did this so the Roman Left would find confirmation of their delusion that Fabius and Hannibal were co-conspirators. Fabius defeated this ruse by selling those untouched estates and donating the proceeds to the Republic's war chest. Still, given the way modern idiots still wear "no blood for oil" T-shirts, even after Kofi Annan and Jaques Chirac were caught red handed getting oil profits for OPPOSING the war, I can imagine that many Romans under the sway of Varro's demagogy still believed what they wanted to believe rather than the manifest fact.

After Fabius' six month Dictatorship ended early in 216 BC, Varro took charge of the armies of the Republic. According to the Roman historian Livy, he promised his eager voters that he would eliminate Hannibal's the day he came in contact with him. Not long after this, the result was Cannae described above.

What was Varro's punishment for his lies and causing the deaths of tens of thousands of his countrymen at Cannae and indirectly causing tens of thousands more in the war that didnt have to drag on like it did? The same punishment Ted Kennedy got for Chappaquiddick. NOTHING. In fact Varro was given a vote of thanks for "not despairing of the Commonwealth" on his return to Rome. In the cruelest of injustices, the remnants of his Cannae Army was banished from Italy, believed to be bad luck. They were formed into two Legions to fight Syracuse in Sicily. And they remained on that island, banished from their homeland until Scipio came along, wanting to invade Africa. Scipio allowed them to join his invasion force, where they distinguishged themselves as a veteran core for his Army that ultimately defeated Hannibal at Zama in 202 BC. At least they had a happy ending, delayed though it was.

This coming election cycle is not unlike the one of 217 BC. We have Leftists making the same thousands-years-old argument that the war we must fight somehow benefits only the rich and not all of us. We must remember the disaster of Cannae, and that is what one gets when one listens to Leftists demagogues and puts them in power. In their own idiotic way, they are more dangerous than the Hannibals at the gate.


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