Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Hannibal

History stories are wrong: History never united a people on a worthy humanitarian tangible value

There is no doubt in my mind that History stories were written by Victors since writing was invented.

And whatever achievements and number extended are way too biased, faked and over-rated.

And you should learn the context and the worthiness of the “adversaries”: Usually, the “vanquished were far more cultured and economically advanced than the conquerors.

And whatever achievements coined by the occupiers where done by the conquered party such as artisans, educated, thinkers or war detained people.

And whatever unity existed in the warrior-kind “City-State” expansionist was for the purpose of looting and the added-value and worthiness of the subjugated people.

That in modern history, only wars united “nations” and the occupation of colonies and their exploitation.

Whatever was tangible was of the material kinds: higher human values was totally forgotten and never disseminated once the occupation settles in.

The Modern States that learned to listen to the demands and request of its people and reacts promptly in reconsidering its laws are the most advanced, regardless of their size in land and population and are the most respectful of the UN resolutions regarding human rights. They have confidence that their educated and cultured citizens are more attuned to the world calamities than their functional institutions.

Note: The civilizations in the Near-East (Syria and Iraq) didn’t undertake a war for war sake. They were prosperous and maintained fair trades with their neighbors and had fair laws for the time and good administration.

These civilizations signed countless peace treaties to keep trade feasible. The only times they had to go to wars, it was because a neighboring State failed to prosper and sought the easy way out by looting excursions and setting up trade barriers.

It is the case of Carthage: Hannibal could have easily subjugated Rome, but he preferred to sign a peace treaty. Rome opted to subjugate Carthage by all means through successive wars.

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Precursors of Nazi “Waffen SS“: Freikorps (Voluntary Military Corps

General Ludendorff, the brilliant military tactician who executed the encirclement strategy on the French army during WWI (and emulating Hannibal’s tactic in Canna), had a vast vision of Teutonic vital space (Lebensraum).

Ludendorff and marshal Hindenburg had pressured Lenin of the new Bolshevik revolution to sign a peace treaty in 1918.

Germany of the Kaiser Reich II doubled in size and in population.  Lenin could temporarily afford to release Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Poland, Roumania, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan to Germany in order to consolidate his reign on Russia.

This extension in size, natural resources, and population didn’t last 6 months but it generated grave consequences.

Germany had dispatched over one million soldiers to this eastern front in order to transfer natural resources and foodstuff back to famished Germany.  Among the soldiers were the voluntary military corps known as Freikorps or “franc corps”.

In the mean time, the Bulgarian front collapsed, which forced the Ottoman Empire to sign a cease-fire with the allied forces of France, Italy, England, Japan, and the USA.

The flu epidemic had ravaged all the States that participated in the war and over 20 millions died from this virulent flu.  The German soldiers on the western front were dying of famine and the flu and started to disperse.

Thus, during the six months before the collapse of the German army in the Western fronts the Freikorps (mostly people of German origin in the newly acquired land) advanced to regain the lands that Medieval Germany had conquered in the 13th century.  And the Freikorps soldiers felt at home; they also linked up with the “White Russian army” (supporting Russia monarchy) to jointly fighting the “Red Russian army” of the Bolsheviks.

In the two years 1919-1921, there were more revolutionary insurrections and upheavals in Germany than all of Europe during the last two centuries.

The fact is that the terrible flu and the disintegration of three empires (Ottoman, Russian, and Austria), the flux of refugees from Russia and many other countries to Western Europe, and the lengthy Paris “Peace Treaty” negotiations have obscured the chaos that Germany’s political and social structures were experiencing.

The Freikorps, returning to Germany after the retreat of the “White Russian army”, formed the backbone of Germany governments’ counter attacks on insurgent groups and parties.

The Freikorps squashed with utmost savagery the marxists, communists, and leftist revolts in many cities such as Berlin, Munich, and in the Ruhr region (the main region for heavy industries and mining.).  These reprisals were precursors of what Nazi Germany would apply with the Waffen SS.

For example, the Ehrhardt  brigade, the most extremist among the Freikorps, paraded at the Brandenburg Arch (Berlin) wearing the future Nazi swastika symbol on their helmets (years before Hitler adopted that symbol)

Hannibal: All time gentleman soldier?

It is recorded that Alissa of Tyr (an ancient City-State in Lebanon), fleeing her brother, established Carthage in current Tunisia.  The emerging Roman Empire clashed with Carthage in the first Punic war (Punic for Phoenician since this first war was mainly maritime).  The war ended with a peace treaty against the will of Carthage commander-in-chief Hamilcar Barca (father of Hannibal).  Thus, Hamilcar was practically exiled.

In the meantime, Carthage had over 20,000 mercenaries on hand and didn’t feel paying them their full dues.  The mercenaries were in the city of Carthage and could have occupied it if they had a leader.  Carthage paid a portion of the salaries with promises to pay the remaining sum if they vacate the city, which the mercenaries did.

Carthage ordered Hamilcar back to subjugate the mercenary army. Hamilcar waged war against the mercenaries for 40 months before finishing the job.  By then, Carthage was exhausted with empty treasury.

Hannibal was 9 years old when his father died and he spent the next 16 years in the military.  By the age of 25, Hannibal was commanding the troops in Spain and had occupied most of Spain.  Rome then declared war on the ground that Hannibal broke the treaty. This is the second Punic war.

Hannibal marched quickly with 50,000 in infantry and 9,000 in cavalry, and a few elephants and crossed the Rhone River in France before the Roman army could intercept him.  Hannibal climbed the Alps mountain peaks as snow was falling.  This is considered the boldest and craziest endeavor in history.  By the time Hannibal reached the Po River in Northern Italy his army was reduced by half.

Even with this tired and much reduced army, Hannibal crushed two Roman armies in two encounters (each Roman army at least double Hannibal’s.  The route to Rome was wide open but Hannibal refused to march on Rome.  One of Hannibal cavalry commanders asked Hannibal permission to advancing to Rome saying: “Rome is five days away.  By the time your infantry arrives I will offer you Rome.”  This cavalry commander was beside himself as Hannibal declined the offer and he replied: “Hannibal, you are an excellent tactician but a very lousy strategist.”

The first question is:

1. “Why Hannibal had to cross the Alps Mountain range when Carthage had a capable navy?  There are many reasons, most of them interconnected.  First, Carthage was inclined not to accept the war: it already had a bad experience with hiring mercenaries.  Second, the aristocracy in Carthage feared that this young and hot-blooded commander might use the navy to enter Carthage and then resume the war according to his plans.  Third, Hannibal wanted to occupy all the lands leading to Italy to safeguard his rears and rob Rome of any future wealth and supplies in men and horses.  If Carthage was agreeable to waging war then Hannibal could have occupied the lands and then board the navy to Italy.

2. The second question is: “Why Hannibal failed to march on Rome?”  The one who dared to cross the Alps with elephants could logically dare to attempt to march on Rome and negotiate an advantageous deal even without putting a serious siege on Rome; assuming that Hannibal had no siege equipments.

Some say that Hannibal wanted to enter Rome with the least casualties by occupying the country side and depriving Rome from any supplies.  This reasoning might be valid but I have another alternative option.  Hannibal wanted to emulate Alexander by winning the heart and mind of the Romans. Hannibal was a military man and admired the Roman military spirit and would have rather be a commander in Rome than a commander in this rotten mercantile State of Carthage that feared him and refused him aids, even when he was about to defeat Rome completely.

Hannibal marched on to the Adriatic Sea and then south and captured many Roman territories.

In 216 BC, Rome had assembled a fresh army of 80,000 infantry and 8,500 cavalry and advanced to Canna.  Hannibal had barely 23,000 infantry and 10,000 o veteran cavalry.

Hannibal cavalry destroyed the young Roman cavalry within an hour and then encircled the Roman infantry on all sides.  Only 4,000 Roman soldiers escaped this massacre; most Romans died trampled.  Rome learned to care better for its cavalry; that is what it did in the battle of Zama 13 years later.  Again, Rome was wide open for the take; Hannibal declined to march on Rome and he wandered for another 12 years in Italy.

Apparently, Hannibal loved and roamed in Italy; he enjoyed being his own boss; a wandering king with no fixed palaces; no stuffy ceremonials; no mean political maneuvering.

Hannibal was now only 28 years old; he is young and having a blast and had all the time ahead of him before taking on boring responsibilities.  Hannibal was the ultimate Corporal: first in battle and last to quit the battle field.

By then, the Roman General, Scipio the Younger, had advanced in Spain and defeated the army of Carthage sent to relieve Hannibal.  Scipio marched on to Carthage.

Hannibal was summoned to Carthage; how could Hannibal and his army reach Carthage unless by sea?  When the oligarchy in Carthage need something, the navy is ready to dispatch the army of Hannibal.

Hannibal was defeated at the battle of Zama and was exiled.

Hannibal stayed at the Greek/Syrian Seleucid King and they fought the Roman again and were not lucky.  Hannibal fled up north and then committed suicide by poison in order not to be made prisoner by the Romans.

The all time gentleman soldier.

The Romans kept detailed intelligence on Hannibal activities, and it was never reported that Hannibal’s army burned villages or massacred civilians. If he did, he would have won the war instead of playing the gentleman soldier.  The greatest feat of Hannibal is that during these 15 years of wandering with a mercenary infantry, far away from home base, his army never experienced any mutinies.

Note 1:  There are detailed accounts of Hamilcar Barca war against the mercenaries in Carthage (the famous French author Flaubert described it in “Salombo”) then, why there are no accounts of Hannibal peregrinations in Italy? Surely the Roman kept tabs on Hannibal’s whereabouts with minute details; then, did the Romans decided that these intelligence are State secrets until Carthage is physically annihilated in the third Punic war?

Carthage and Hannibal should be erased from the Roman memory?  Physically yes, but never in history.

For 2,300 years Hannibal’s war tactics have been emulated as the most effective war engagements.  Hannibal, the all time gentleman soldier, reporting to “duty”.

Note: 2 Hannibal used his invincible army to weakening the strongest military superpower at each period.  He refrained entering Rome at several occasions simply so that Carthage would not return as the sole superpower in the Mediterranean Sea.  I re-edited this article for further development of this idea https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/wisest-general-all-time-hannibal/

What is this “Greater Syria Nation”? (December 3, 2008)

Syria, “Syrie”, or “Souria” is Su Rya in the Sanskrit language which means the “Land of the Sun“.

There are other names for Syria such as Suraqia (a combination of Syria and Iraq) or the Fertile Crescent.  The Arabic/Islamic occupation called it “Al Sham” or the land on the left side of Mecca or westward.

This potential nation is bordered from the East by the Zahgross and Bakhtiyari Mountain Chains (in present Iran and facing the Arab/Persian Gulf) that link with the Kurdistan Mountain Chains up north and the Taurus Mountain Chains in present Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea.

The south east merges with the western desert of the Arabian Peninsula; the south is bounded by the Arabian Sea; the south west by the Sinai Desert and the west by the Mediterranean Sea.

Thus, this potential nation included present States of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, part of west Iran, and part of south Turkey.

The Syriac or Aramaic language calls it Shu Riash, the Assyrian (Ashur) and the Ancient Testament of the Jews called this land Aram with qualifiers. For example, we have Aram of the two Rivers (Iraq), Aram Damascus, Aram Soba (Bekaa Valley in Lebanon), Aram Maakat (Hasbaya, Banyas in Lebanon), Aram Rahoub (Golan Heights in Syria).

Theoretically, “Greater Syria” has formidable delimited natural borders.

Practically, the topography of the inner land was wide open and there were no difficult barriers for any invader to move in with a large army.

Unfortunately for “Greater Syria” it was a most fertile land with mighty long rivers and multitudes of rich, skilled, and self contained City-States “merchant Republics” that were willing to pay the requisite tribute in order to be left in peace to resume their way of life and for accumulating more treasures.

The “Land of the Sun” has the sun shining most of the years and its ancient religion adored the Sun as the highest unique God (fundamentally monolithic) in the name of Eel or Enlil (Babylon) or Allah in the Arab Peninsula.

All the ancient Empires in that region adopted the same religion with slight variations.  Each religious sect had an assortment of minor Gods (males and females) with specialties and attributes such as Baal, Ashtarout (Astarte), Nabu, Hubal, and Lat and so on.

All the Empires in Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome adopted the same structure for their religions.

The specialized minor Gods overshadowed the generalist mightiest Unique God. 

Thus, each City-State was jealous of it minor God or totem on whom it lavished qualities of its main trade.

I think that is how caste systems were created: each City-State considered its self-autonomy as symbolic to its minor God or sect.  Trade exigencies were the only reasons for these City-States to communicate among one another or associate with for duration.

These City-States were “merchant republics” with democratic institutions within city limits; they were unable to unite or form any long lasting Empires against the invading warlike Empires coming from Persia, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Rome, the Crusaders, and finally the European colonizers.

A few City-States confronted mighty Empires and sometimes managed to defend themselves victoriously like Sidon (Saida).  Many times the City-States burned themselves and their cities (again Sidon) and Cartage.  Tyr accepted that Alexander enters the sanctuary of Baal but refused him the permission to enter with his officers.

Syria was unified most of the time under foreign Empires of domination.

The first time that Syria enjoyed unity as a Nation was under the Seleucus dynasty (one of Alexander officers) with Capital in Antioch for barely 3 centuries.  It was a nation of compatible cultures with the Greek City-States mentality.

Even then, Syria was unable to institute a central army. That was the period when Hannibal was defeated in Zama (Tunisia/Cartage) by the Romans.

Cartage, the typical City-State of caste system and founded by Tyr, signed cooperation treaties with the Seleucus empire against their common enemy Rome, but the support failed to materialize when needed against Rome.  It was after his defeat that Hannibal fled to Syria; but it was too late to check mighty Rome militarily.

Before Islam, Syria was a prized region for frequent razzias by the Bedouin tribes, originating in the northern part of desert Arabic Peninsula.  Many of these Arabic tribes settled in Syria and a few converted to Christianity before Islam conquered Syria.

There were two other periods when Syria had a special nation status during the Arabic Omayyad dynasty and Saladin Al Ayyubi with Capital in Damascus.

Mostly, Syria was divided in small kingdoms or fiefdoms as extensions to City-States variations.  Thus, Syria is a mix of various nationalities and ethnic groups that have common cultures and language but never managed on its own volition to form a central government with a central army. 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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