Four Israeli soldiers were wounded in this morning’s operation against the Gaza flotilla. Ten activists reportedly were killed in the violent confrontation. Exactly the kind of escalation many of us predicted after the Rachel Corrie tragedy in 2003, when the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) sent Corrie into a military zone and she suffered the consequences.
I was not surprised to discover that one of the ISM founders, Huwaida Arraf, is now a spokesperson for the Free Gaza Movement aboard one of the ships. Yesterday, Arraf told the New York Times: “We communicated to them clearly that we are unarmed civilians. We asked them not to use violence.”
First IDF official reports from this morning’s “humanitarian flotilla” attempting to reach Gaza give a chilling picture of ongoing pro-terrorist activities against Israel.
As the six vessels sailed from Turkey via Cyprus with 700 people aboard, Israeli diplomatic efforts to avoid a confrontation continued into the night. All were rebuffed. As the boats approached Israel, further warnings were given to the captains and those on board–these were relayed in English and played repeatedly on Israeli radio this morning. The Israel navy spokesman stated clearly: Israel welcomes humanitarian aid. Gaza waters are closed to all sea traffic. You are invited to land in Israel, deliver the material that will then be sent through the land crossings with your supervision, and then you may return to your countries on the vessels you arrived in.
The response was clear and immediate: “Negative, negative,” replied the captain of the Marmara.
At that point, Israeli navy commandos boarded the ships and encountered violent resistance.
Passengers were armed with knives, bats and metal pipes. Israeli commandos tried to
used non-lethal measures to disperse the crowd. Activists succeeded in
stealing the weapon from one of the IDF’s soldiers and reportedly opened
fire, leading to an escalation in violence.
“It was like a well-planned lynch,” one IDF officer said. “These people
were anything but peace activists.”
Despite all that, the IDF said that the ships would be taken to the Ashdod Port where the cargo will be inspected and then transferred to the Gaza Strip via land crossings. Israeli Navy commander
Vice-Admiral Eliezer Marom was commanding over the operation from sea.
This morning, efforts are still underway to bring the flotilla under control and into Israeli ports to deal with the “humanitarian activists.”
ByDavid Deming History demonstrates that destruction awaits those who attempt to placate their enemies by surrendering their weapons. In 149 BC, half a million citizens of Carthage tried to appease Rome by turning over their armaments. But instead of buying peace, they only facilitated their own destruction. Ninety percent of the Carthaginians were killed, and the city of Carthage was razed. Those who survived were sold into slavery, and Carthaginian civilization was forever wiped from the face of the earth. The story of how the Carthaginians sealed their fate by delivering their weapons into the hands of their enemy is chronicled in my book, Science and Technology in World History, Vol. 1.
Carthage was founded on the shores of North Africa by Phoenicians in the 9th century BC. It was the center of a powerful and ancient empire, and as the power of Rome grew, it was inevitable that the Romans and Carthaginians would come into conflict.
Between 264 and 146 BC, Rome and Carthage fought three Punic Wars for control of the Mediterranean. The Romans were victorious in both the First and Second Punic Wars. At the close of the Second Punic War in 202 BC, Carthage was forced to pay Rome 200 talents of silver a year for fifty years. An additional term of peace was that Carthage was forbidden from waging war without Rome’s permission. Consequently, Numidians in North Africa began to raid Carthage without fear of reprisal. When the Carthaginians begged Rome for permission to defend themselves, they were refused.
In 157 BC, Cato the Censor visited Carthage and was alarmed to discover how quickly the Carthaginians had recovered from their defeat in the Second Punic War. He acquired the conviction that Rome would never be secure until Carthage was completely annihilated. Cato began to close every speech in the Roman Senate by exclaiming, “Carthage must be destroyed!”
As time passed, the Roman Senate became convinced that Cato was right and resolved to wipe Carthage off the face of the earth. But they needed a pretext for commencing hostilities. The Carthaginians unwittingly supplied one.
Under the terms of peace that had concluded the Second Punic War, Carthage was required to pay tribute to Rome for fifty years. When the fifty years passed, the Carthaginians reasoned that they were also free from the restriction that forbade them from waging war without the permission of Rome. A patriotic faction came to power in Carthage and formed an army to defend Carthage from the Numidian raids.
The war between the Carthaginians and Numidians provided Rome with the pretext it needed, and the Roman Senate promptly declared war on Carthage. When the Carthaginians learned that a state of war existed, they became alarmed and immediately dispatched a team of thirty ambassadors to Rome to plead for peace. Carthage was in no condition to fight a Third Punic War with Rome. Since its victory in the Second Punic War, Rome had grown immeasurably more powerful.
The Roman Senate had already resolved on the destruction of Carthage, but they reasoned it would be advantageous to first employ treachery. So they dealt with the Carthaginians in a way that was both brutal and deceitful.
The Carthaginian ambassadors were told that their desire for peace would be granted. Carthage would be allowed to retain its freedom, territory, and property. But as a condition and guarantee of peace, the Carthaginians were required to surrender three hundred male children from their most eminent families as hostages. Roman military forces were dispatched to Carthage to collect the captives. The commanding Roman consuls were secretly instructed to wage war until Carthage was “razed to the ground.”
According to the historian Appian (c. AD 95-165), the Carthaginian children had to be ripped from the arms of their mothers. Some of the mothers were so distraught that they tore out their hair, beat on their breasts, or even swam out to sea, vainly following the ships carrying their sons off to Rome. They would never see their children alive again. But this sacrifice was judged necessary to purchase peace.
Once the hostages had been surrendered, the Carthaginian ambassadors expected peace. But the Romans had a new demand. They insisted that the Carthaginians surrender all of their weapons. The Roman Consul Censorinus explained, “If you are sincerely desirous of peace, why do you need any arms?” He continued, “Bring all your weapons and engines of war, both public and private, and deliver them to us.” Oblivious to the Roman maxim, “If you want peace, prepare for war,” the Carthaginians obsequiously complied. They turned over armor for two hundred thousand men, javelins, darts, and two thousand catapults. Appian said that it was an “unparalleled spectacle to behold the vast number of loaded wagons.”
Having complied with the Roman request to surrender their weapons, the Carthaginian ambassadors foolishly thought they had bought peace by disarming themselves. The consul Censorinus praised the Carthaginians for having the wisdom to comply with the Romans’ first two requirements. But there was yet another new demand. “Yield Carthage to us, and betake yourselves where you like within your own territory at a distance of at least ten miles from the sea, for we are resolved to raze your city to the ground.”
The Carthaginian ambassadors finally realized they had been deceived into yielding to Rome, without a fight, everything it could have expected from waging and winning another war. There would be no peace, and they had been artfully deceived. The Carthaginian ambassadors “cursed the Romans … flung themselves to the ground and beat it with their hands and heads. Some of them even tore their clothes and lacerated their flesh as though they were absolutely bereft of their senses.”
Having surrendered their swords, the Carthaginians could only resort to words. So they appealed to the Romans for mercy and pity. But none was granted. The consul Censorinus stated “the Senate … has issued its decrees and they must be carried out.” He explained, “We do not make this decision from any ill-will toward you, but in the interest of a lasting peace and of the common security.” The only consolation the Roman consul could offer to the Carthaginians was the observation that “the healing drug for all evils is oblivion.”
When the Carthaginian ambassadors brought the fateful news back to Carthage, there followed “a scene of blind, raving madness.” Some people fell upon the ambassadors and ripped them to pieces or stoned them to death. The Carthaginians went into their armories and collapsed, sobbing, when they found them empty. Most distraught of all were the mothers who had surrendered their children to the Romans. It was now apparent that the loss of their offspring had accomplished no good whatsoever.
The Carthaginians had been disarmed, but they nevertheless resolved to resist as much as possible. They worked day and night to forge new weapons. Statues were melted down for their metal. Women cut off their hair to provide strings for catapults. Assisting the belated resistance was Carthage’s immensely strong fortifications. Most of the city was surrounded by a series of three walls, each forty-five feet high. The walls had been reinforced for centuries. It was the strength of these fortifications that had dissuaded the Romans from attempting the destruction of Carthage at the end of the Second Punic War.
The outcome was predetermined from the beginning, but the Romans were forced to resort to a long siege to finally subdue Carthage. To cut off the Carthaginian supply routes by sea, large engineering works had to be constructed, and this took time.
After three years, the Carthaginians were weakened by hunger and disease, and the Romans finally managed to breach the city walls. There followed six days of fighting, street by street, but the Carthaginian resistance was feeble.
The city was set on fire, and there followed endless scenes of horror as the fires consumed both buildings and people. The Romans killed everyone who resisted. The survivors, totaling 55,000, represented less than ten percent of the original population. They were sold into slavery. The Roman Senate decreed that what remained of Carthage be utterly destroyed. The ruins burned for seventeen days. Seven hundred years of Carthaginian civilization came to a bitter end.
Thus the lesson was learned. Surrendering your weapons does not buy peace, but only paves the way for ultimate defeat. If you want peace, prepare for war.
From Brig. General Felderman’s Speech at Border Management Conference, May 25, 2010: (Transcript)
“We developed a strategic guidance statement – The Partnership for the 21st Century – U.S. Southwest Border Security …it brought together a unified approach to improve border security and support the government of Mexico.”
“And so, as that strategic guidance came out with a purpose, it was to provide that strategic direction in protecting our national interest and supporting the strategic partnership with the government of Mexico.”
“….even though when the homeland was first brought up as a term there were a lot of folks that thought it should have been at a national level and so we’re defending on the mission, we’re defending the homeland, in the Western Hemisphere, North America is a little bit more than that. It is our partners who came to that in Mexico, in the Bahamas in Central America and South America – them all building up their national security…”
“We’re the one entity – the Department of Homeland Security and those agencies that are able to bring out those continental security goals. And don’t be surprised if you don’t start seeing some issue papers that are kind of talking in those realms.” American Patrol Report comment: So our Department of Defense responds to the wholesale invasion of our nation by Mexico by entering into a partnership with them. And now our “homeland” isn’t just the U.S. — it is the entire hemisphere. — We are going to secure the nation by destroying it.
President Obama plans to spend Memorial Day weekend in Illinois, which means he won’t be participating in the customary wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington.
That’s a pity. Memorial Day has already lost much of its significance for many Americans, and the image of the president commemorating our war dead is always a great reminder—especially at war time—of what this holiday means.
In his Gettysburg address, Lincoln said that the world “can never forget” those who perished in the decisive Battle of Gettysburg. But many Americans have forgotten, or never learned, the meaning not only of Memorial Day but of the country so many of our servicemen and women have died fighting for.
When I was growing up, Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was known then, was the day we visited local cemeteries to decorate the graves of the war dead, with flags or flowers. Memorial Day has become little more than a long weekend to mark the beginning of summer and to gather for barbeques, picnics and sporting events.
Polls underscore how ignorant we’ve become of our history and way of life. Surveys by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute underscore American college students’ lack of knowledge of basic American history and institutions. In a 2008 study, 71 percent failed a civics knowledge test. More than half couldn’t name the three branches of government.
Our president personifies a generation that’s de-emphasized America and American values. The spectacle of Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress cheering as a foreign head of state chided a commonsense Arizona immigration law reflected an ideology that sees little to like about America.
On a certain level, I couldn’t help but feel a little admiration for Mexico President Felipe Calderon. It was a disgusting display—but at least Mexico’s president is willing to stand up for his country. That’s much more than our president is willing to do for his.
When elaborating on the country that elected him president, Obama speaks mostly of its sins, real and imagined. When asked if he believes in American exceptionalism, he answers that sure he does—in the same way the coddled Greeks now taking to the streets against their government in Athens believe in Greek exceptionalism. A simple “no” would suffice.
Watching Obama describe the Arizona law reminded me of a school teacher scolding her students for misbehaving. He said the new law is “poorly conceived” and “misdirected,” and he nodded approvingly as Calderon called it “discriminatory.”
Obama has made empathy his governing virtue. But he seems to feel little empathy for fed-up Arizonans, who have endured as nearly half a million illegal immigrants have poured into their state. The Obama of Hyde Park and the White House has never felt the dread of wondering whether drug smugglers were sneaking through his backyard in the middle of the night.
Since America’s beginning, immigrants arrived on American soil yearning to learn our language, history, laws and customs. There was a time in America’s history when new immigrants would rally to ensure their new countrymen that they loved America and were willing to become Americans.
But the metaphor of America as a “melting pot” is no longer apt. A better metaphor is of America as a “salad bowl” of mutually exclusive groups.
Today, hyphenated Americans often put other affiliations first. One poll of Hispanics in America found that 64 percent consider themselves “mostly Hispanic,” while only 15 percent see themselves as “mostly American.” Even worse, 27 percent of the survey sample had lived in America for more than 25 years, while only 15 percent lived here less than six.
The goal of American immigration is to build a citizenry that loves America first. But that hasn’t happened. While liberal elites fret about how to move illegal immigrants “out of the shadows” the immigrants themselves are busy jockeying to get in front of TV cameras while waving foreign flags and anti American signs, and crying for open borders at rallies across the country.
When Hispanics can do all their business in Spanish, vote in Spanish, take a driver’s license exam in Spanish and send their kids to bilingual public schools, what incentive do they have to assimilate?
In his State of the Union address, Obama discussed reforming immigration laws in order to “ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.”
But the Democrat’s amnesty bill would reward those who did not play by the rules, while punishing those who did.
And immigrants are disproportionately low-skilled and poor. Heritage Foundation research has found that such immigrants “receive, on average, three dollars in government benefits and services for each dollar of taxes they pay.”
America has always welcomed immigrants and it should continue to do so. But, as Teddy Roosevelt famously said, immigration should be “predicated upon the man’s becoming an American and nothing but an American. There can be no divided allegiance here.” He continued:
“Any man who says he is an American but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
For immigrants to become Americans, and to embrace America, they must first recognize their new home as a great and good country. They can only do that if they learn our history, including the history of our wars and of the “honored dead” who gave “the last full measure of devotion.” A country that forgets its history will be a country that history soon forgets.
One of the chief characteristics of Barack Obama’s speechifying is its contempt for words as anything other than props of self-puffery. Consider, for example, his recent remarks to the graduating class of the United States Military Academy:
“America has not succeeded by stepping out of the currents of cooperation — we have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice.”
“Steering those currents”? How could even a member of the president’s insulated, self-regarding speechwriting team be so tin-eared as to write that line? How could the president be so tone-deaf as to deliver it in May of 2010? Hey, genius, if you’re so damn good at “steering currents,” why not try doing it in the Gulf of Mexico?
As for many great “thinkers,” for Barack Obama and his coterie words seem to exist mostly in the realm of metaphor rather than as descriptors of actual action actually occurring in anything so humdrum as reality. And so it is that, even as his bungling administration flounders in the turbulent waters of the Gulf, on the speaker’s podium the president still confidently sails forth deftly steering the ship through the narrow ribbon of sludge between the Scylla of sonorous banality and the Charybdis of gaseous uplift.
Two years ago this week, then-Senator Obama declared that his very nomination as Democratic-party presidential candidate (never mind his election, or inauguration) marked the moment when “our planet began to heal” and “the rise of the oceans began to slow.” “Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute,” remarked Charles Krauthammer the other day, “you mustn’t be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides.”
Poor old Canute has been traduced by posterity. He was the Viking king of Denmark, England, Norway, and bits of Sweden, which, as Joe Biden would say, was a big (expletive) deal back in the 11th century. And, like Good King Barack, he had a court full of oleaginous sycophants who were forever telling him, as Newsweek editor Evan Thomas said of Obama, that he’s “sort of God.” So one day, weary of being surrounded by Chris Matthews types with the legs a-tingling 24/7, Canute ordered the footmen to take his throne down to the shore and he’d command the incoming waves to stay the hell out. Just like Obama, he would steer the very currents. Next thing you know, Canute’s got seaweed in his wingtips and is back at the palace wringing out his Argyll socks. “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings,” he said, “for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws.”
In other words, he was teaching his courtiers a lesson in the limits of kingly power. I’m a child of the British Empire and, back in my kindergarten days, almost all the stories we were taught about kings went more or less the same way. Generations of English children learned of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex back in the 9th century. Another A-list bigshot: Winston Churchill called him “the greatest Englishman that ever lived.” One day, during a tumultuous time in the affairs of his kingdom, he passed a remote cottage and called in on the local peasant woman to rest a while. Unaware of who he was, she went off to milk the cow and told him to mind the cakes she’d left on the hearth. He was a big-picture guy preoccupied with geopolitical macro-trends and he absentmindedly let the cakes burn. She took him to task (“You’re happy to eat the cakes but too lazy to keep an eye on them”) but, upon realizing he was the king, begged a thousand pardons. “No, no,” he said. “Entirely my fault.” And there in the rude hovel he humbly turned the woman’s loaves for her.
In the age of kings, we were taught that kings were human, with human failings. Now, in the age of citizen-presidents, we are taught that government has unlimited powers over “heaven, earth, and sea.” Unlike Canute and Alfred, the vanity of Big Government knows no bounds. Tim Flannery, the Aussie global warm-monger who chaired the Copenhagen climate circus a few months back, announces with a straight face that “we’re trying to act as a species to regulate the atmosphere.” Never mind anything so footling as the incoming tides, but the very atmosphere! How do you do that? Well, first, take one extremely large check. Next, add several extra zeroes to it. Then, toss it out the window. “He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws”? Hah! That’s chickenfeed compared to the way things are gonna be once heaven, earth, and sea are forced to submit to a transnational micro-regulatory regime.
Almost every problem we face today arises from the vanity of Big Government. Why has BP got oil wells 5,000 feet underwater in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico? Because government regulated them off-land, off-coast, and ever deeper into the briny. True, BP went along. Its initials stand for “British Petroleum.” You may not be aware of that if you’ve seen any of their commercials in recent years: “BP — Beyond Petroleum.” They were an oil company ashamed of their product, and advertising only how anxious they were to get with the environmental program. And a fat lot of good that did them. BP, not to mention its customers, would have been better to push back against government policies that drive energy suppliers into ever more unpredictable terrain in order to protect the Alaskan breeding grounds of the world’s largest mosquito herd. Instead, we’ll do the opposite. There’ll be even more government protection of “the environment,” and even more government regulation of the oil industry, and BP will be drilling for oil in that Icelandic volcano.
It’s the same in Europe. Greece’s problem isn’t so very difficult to diagnose. Like many Western nations, its government has spent tomorrow today. As in New York and California, public-sector unions have looted the future. This is the entirely foreseeable consequence of government policy.
So what’s the solution? The international bailout (including a hefty contribution by U.S. taxpayers) is a massive subsidy to the Greeks to carry on doing all the stuff that’s got ’em into their present mess. The European motive for doing this is to “save the euro” — a currency whose very existence is a monument to the unbounded narcissism of government. The euro notes are decorated by scenic views of handsome Renaissance, Gothic, and classical edifices — just like the White House on U.S. currency. The only difference is that the European buildings do not exist in what we used to call the real world. They’re entirely fictional. That’s Big Government: Even if you don’t build it, they’ll still come. If you invent a currency for a united Europe, a united Europe is sure to follow.
The princelings of the new ruling class rarely have to live with the consequences of their narcissism. Nancy Pelosi can monkey with your health care, but hers will still be grand. Greek bureaucrats can regulate your business into the ground, but they’ll still have their pensions and benefits. And, when the cakes are burning to a crisp, King Barack the Verbose won’t be in the peasant hovel with you but off giving a critically acclaimed speech about how the world works best when we all get an equal slice of the pie.