Kevin D. Williamson knocks one out of the park at The Corner. Which surprises me, I’d pretty much quit reading NR because they’ve turned into a bunch of squishy cons since Buckley translated to Heaven. Williamson seems to be “bucking” that trend.
[In the Third Punic War] the Romans went back to Carthage and absolutely wrecked the place. They Romans had a rougher time of it getting there than they’d expected, and they arrived in Carthage in ill temper. They were also resolved that there would not be a fourth Punic war. Having decisively beaten the army on the field, they laid siege to Carthage, starving much of the population. At the end of the siege, there were about 50,000 surviving Carthaginians. The Romans massacred a fair number of them while taking the city and sold the remainder into slavery. They spent the next 17 days systematically burning and demolishing Carthage, though the legend that they plowed salt into the fields in order to render the land barren apparently is a 19th century invention; securing a steady supply of grain was a Roman obsession, and North Africa was an important breadbasket.
Going on 22 centuries later, nobody has heard a peep from Carthage.
Williamson goes on to make the subtle point that, in Syria, we should either go big, or go home; and if we decided to go big, there would be nothing left of Syria when our forces finished up. I myself think the latter is probably the choice that yields the best outcome, but our modern political leaders don’t have the stomach to raze a thrice-naughty country to the ground like the Romans did.
On one point, he and I have to agree to disagree. He states, “Americans’ appetite for investing blood and treasure in these enterprises is pretty weak.” This may be true for the sort of milquetoast nation-building bullshit we’ve been attempting in the region since 2003, but I suspect the American public will eventually be handed another 9/11 and will at that time be perfectly happy to follow the leader who, like the Romans of old, simply decides to declare a pox on all sides of the Syrian conflict, and summarily wipes Syria off the map pour encorager les autres.
Of course, I’ve been saying for years that 20 megatons over just about any Arab capital — or Tehran, or Pyongyang — would be 20 megatons well-dropped, but nobody seems to be listening.
The idea that we are somehow “better” than the Romans or other historical peoples because we don’t ruthlessly roll over our enemies, burn their cities to the ground, and enslave the survivors, but rather that we try to understand them, don’t destroy their customs/traditions/religions, and contribute to building them back up again after we defeat them, is really pretty goddamn stupid, and it’s unfortunately infected Western countries since at least WWI, and certainly since WWII. I mean, I am part German/Austrian myself, but for what the Germans did in WWII, we should have razed that country as flat as a pancake and used it to play football against the Soviets with Hitler’s head. Over the ensuing 70+ years, it’s become obvious that we did them (and ourselves) no favors by treating them kindly and building their country back up. Angela Merkel and her ilk are proof of that spoiled batch of pudding.
And I like the Japanese, I’ve studied them extensively, and I think they are, at base, good people. But again, for the way they prosecuted the war in the Pacific — flat as a pancake, Hirohito and Tojo’s heads for footballs.
The West in victory, over the past century or so, has become too kind between the wars, apparently in the hope of creating a lasting, permanent peace. Historically, however, it’s clear that mankind simply marks time from war to war, and maintains “peace” only by making constant preparation for war. Because progressives and right-thinkers have decided that the way to break this cycle is to downplay war and subdue by indoctrination the inclination to same by the new generations, we in the West have by and large lost something valuable and important in the modern era.
Is it any wonder that groups like the SCA, the Knights of Columbus, and the Masonic Knights Templar still attract members? I think not. Despite indoctrination in schools and universities, and despite the lies of the progressive-controlled press, conflict is the natural state of man, and it shall be until time shall be no more. Attempts to change that without changing the very nature of man are like spitting into the wind. And it is clear to any honest historian that such attempts have only made the world a more dangerous place.
The only way to keep the peace is to stomp the troublemakers flat before they get out of their neighborhood. In hindsight, had the Brits and the French stomped on Hitler’s Rhineland bluff, we’d probably have avoided WWII. And if we’d stomped on that little fat fucker Muqtada al-Sadr (link1, link2, link3, link4 if you don’t remember who he is) back in 2004 or 2007, we might not have Daesh right now.
Opportunity lost. The Romans are shaking their heads at us, wondering how we went wrong.