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Rome, Parthia, Germans and some others-

by on 10/07/2013

ER:-  I have a lot to say to your military view of history. But i would like to start with a short correction. You wrote; ………….Moral superiority is why, ultimately, the Republics won against the fascists Hannibal and Hitler…. As to my understanding Hitler lost the war mainly to Stalin who was even a worse despot than Hitler, if we judge him in terms of number of murders. He personally read “every day” before bed time the list of next day executions and arbitrarily erased one lucky name out of the list.

As to Hannibal, the Carthaginians were not exactly fascists, rather they had kind of collective leadership of oligarchy, who failed to support Hannibal in a crucial moment and lost everything to Rome. You may call it Plutocracy, but the Republican Rome was also kind of Plutocracy. By the way the Roman victories against much more sophisticated Greeks and Phoenicians was due to their durability and commitment, as Pyrrhus of Epirus put it so famously “One more such victory, and we shall be undone.” 600 years later the Romans lost the same kind of commitment or durability. Was it because of Christianity, or people felt just too safe and couldn’t imagine that world can exist without a Roman empire? We can go through all the reasoning, but to me seems that the main reason is that the Visigoths at Battle of Hadrianopolis were not only less equipped than the Romans, but almost starved, and would have been starved within few days if not winning the battle. This seems to be a more important factor than all the other reasoning. By the way in the same situation were the Germans at 406 when they crossed the frozen Rhine. Doesn’t their situation remain a bit the situation of the Arab and African people of today?

If to speak about the Roman example i would mention Marcus Licinius Crassus, who destroyed Spartacus even if the credit was taken by Pompey. Then he disastrously failed in a battle against the Persians. Yes the same Persians who continued to fight Rome until they both were conquered by the Muslim-Arabs. I read someone to claim that these are the same Persians at least ethnically, who challenge US in these days.

Couldn’t be human history a wonderful story, if not causing so much personal sufferings?

PA:-  One thing I tried to explain, and i do not doubt I did not make a very good job, because it’s hard, that great civilization changing battles are the apex of a much larger process.
Republic Rome had three tremendous losses in succession to Hannibal, but, still, 17 years later, won the war. Republic France started the world war against the USSR (!), Hitler and American plutocrats in 1939, and won, less than 6 years later. they were both in tremendous moral superiority position (both Rome & France as republic, democracy v plutocracy, and outright Satanism of fascist regimes…)

The important act was not whether a battle was lost (the Battle of France), but that the war, WWII was ENGAGED and won. It was won, mostly by correct moral positioning.

As Hitler himself explained to all his generals, they could not win over Britain without capturing first the resources of the USSR, so they betrayed Stalin. The total losses were enormous; 28 million dead on USSR side. 3 million dead soldiers, Nazis side (plus countless millions of civilians).

True, Stalin out-fascized the Nazis themselves. Superiors had right of live & death on their inferiors…

OK, got to run right now, medical appointment… In the times of Hannibal, Carthage was certainly plutocratic, and recently practiced child sacrifices, for encouragement (after the defeat the great city became more democratic than Rome, though!)

ER:- All i want to say to your point is, maybe the French won the war, but then to many good people payed the price, and i am among those who carry scars caused by this war.
As to the history lesson i always ask myself what can we learn from all it? I published few month ago in your blog an opinion about the causality in history and was harshly criticized for it.
Still i would like to cite from it…….even if we can with certain level of security predict that the fundamental Muslims will take over the political power in most of the Arab world, we cannot predict today to where the Arab world is heading too? Are they going to implement their ideological-religious agenda, or are they going to sink in the mud of the unsolvable, urgently pressing economic problems?……

It seems to me my correct prediction supports in a way the claim for historical causality, even if on very limited scale. I could add an other predictions, viz;

In this article i published few month before the “Arab spring” the following; ………Europe enjoys a relatively calm political times, due to the corrupt Arab regimes, which has no legitimacy what so ever. Do you believe this situation is sustainable for ever? And remember, in these countries the population doubles every 20-30 years and the corrupt governments there give no chance to any natural economic, social and political development. So the question is not if but when it will all erupt, and when it will sweep Europe like a big hurricane, like it happened when the German tribes swept the Roman Empire. Then the barbarians did not adopt the more “advanced” more comfortable, more human Roman culture and political system. They destroyed it and started a new system from the beginning. It just took them more than 1000 years until they came close to what the Romans had achieved………..

What i want to say is that certain historical developments can be predicted, yet the causality prevails. It is not easy to say, but Christendom is once again in front of a new challenge, that it is not equipped politically and socially to cope with. While in France the “Franks” make strikes to continue their 35 work hour, week and see the 2 month vacation as a sacrosanct institution, the Arab youth fights for the most basics to make their life worth to live. And they live just across the bay.

PA:- Well, for the French anti-fascist wars (there were several), the price was high. Very high. Counted the right way, one is talking about 5 million dead or so (!!!!) This has to do with counting the losses of those who, as in my family were in the so called French empire, and died fighting fascist (American propagandists don’t count those). My Franco-French side of the family harbored Jews (dozens) and finished grandly fleeing the Gestapo through the woods. Some died (some in uniform, in combat, some as civilians). Still, there was no choice but declaring war to Hitler on 3 September 1939. The strange defeat of May 1940 was an incredible military accident rendered possible mostly by the dual use policy of the USA after November 1939 (before that, it was outright pro-Hitlerian!)… although other stupid policies were involved (such as the dispersion of the half of the French Air Force worldwide on May 10, 1940). Plutocracy ought to be measured by an index. Call it P (P would be obtained in part from the Gini Index). P(carthage) was much higher than P(Rome). Arguably much of the Second Punic war was a personal matter between Hamilcar-hannibal’s family and the Roman Republic. I hold that the victories of Roma against Phoenicians and Hellenistic regimes was due to Rome being a republic. Pyrrhus, a mercenary with “king” pretentions, needed to be paid. Roman infantry was not bought. BTW, Marseilles, which was much more of a republic, with a significant empire confronting Carthage, stayed independent for a full century longer than any other Greek city, and even longer than the Ptolemic regime in Egypt. This was due to Marseilles being much more established as an independent republic (it bet on the wrong horse, Pompeii, in the Roman Civil war).

ER:- Back to our history lesson, the odd causality of history can be described also as a law of repeated stupidity of arrogant Generals, Kings and other Ego-driven narcissists, who will never learn from the mistakes of others.

The modern example of repeated same mistake is the French honoring the Low Lands neutrality, while the Germans not. But then you have the medieval Battle of Crécy and Battle of Agincourt where the French were twice overwhelmed by the same English archers. And do not forget the similarity between the Battle of Hadrianopolis, the battle of Carrhae, in 53 BC between the Parthians and the Romans lead by Marcus Licinius Crassusand and the battle of Hattin between the crusaders and Saladin? In all these cases the generals let their soldiers to die out of thirst before the battle. All these battles had changed the course of the history

My historical conclusion? If there is any possibility to point on a repeatability of history, it will be that if the circumstances allow it, and accidentally a stupid and arrogant General or King driven by his Ego-narcissism will happen to be in position of sole decision maker, it may cause a dramatic change in the course of human history.

DD:- Even if we can with certain level of security predict that the fundamental Muslims will take over the political power in most of the Arab world”…..You certainly gave much thought to the subject, but beware of certainties. The ability of Islamists to take advantage of turmoil is huge, but their inability to hold on that advantage is being exposed as country after country bristles under their overeager imposition of antiquated rules.

ER:- Dear DD, I do not pretend to be an expert of Arab post-revolutionary politics, but i do believe it is possible to predict certain political-historical development (as opposite to my own claim of causality in the history), if some major economic-social paradigm changes significantly. Such a paradigm change can be a major demographic change like high population growth and the following increase in young population share in the society or vice versus, or a technological change that forces the population to adopt changes in their believes, cultural experiences and relocates the wealth and economic preferences of the population. Such a change happened in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century and caused a major crisis, that brought on the Europeans and the world 2 world wars and one huge revolution. Europe never recovered from these disasters, and probably never will.
Back to the Muslim-Arab world, they suffer to my opinion from a similar crisis. The Islamist did not take advantage of turmoil as you claim, but are the most popular force all over the Muslim world. The best prove is the results in all the Arab and some of the Muslim countries, where free elections were hold. The problem is the Islam politics has no real answers how to run a modern modern state that can create an efficient economy, with efficient public services, and free secular education system that will train economically, technologically and scientifically creative people (Egypt’s adult population illiteracy is 30% , out of it women 37%). To create a sufficiently functioning state they would have to adopt “western” values, what they strongly oppose, because it threatens their political basis and cultural values. So probably they will have to go through even a bigger crisis than what they are in now, until they understand, that a societies of hundreds million of people demanding all the comfort the modern world can supplement, can’t be run according to the laws and customs created 1500 years ago, when the population of whole Arab world did not exceed few millions. And this is the basis of the conflict between the secular and the non secular parts of the societies, while the secular part understands it and wants to adopt the modern ways of life the non secular part lives in self-destructive denial.

From → History, MENUE

  1. Incidentally, the name Partha went to the epic Mahabaratha to an expert archer as Parthians were expert bowmen. I am Indian, of course!


    • Probably it is not incidental. After all the Indians are decent of invaders from Persia or modern Iran. Sanskrit is an Indo-European language.


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