Monday, September 30, 2013

The Government Shutdown

Los Angeles – Unless something changes, at midnight Eastern Time, the United States Government will shut down for the first time in seventeen years. The senate has refused the bill to fund the government because a measure within the bill to delay the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) for a year, and also repeal a tax on medical devices.
However, the shutdown battle is really something quite small. In about seventeen days, another battle will take place within our congress, a battle of much greater significance. The battle to raise the amount of money our nation can borrow. If, at midnight tonight, nothing has been passed by the congress and signed by the president, although what will happen is being called a shutdown, America will still operate. National Parks will close down, you can no longer saunter down nature trails, which will of course be a grave trial, the police force will still be there. The inspectors will still be there inspecting food, the mail will still come, the Federal Reserve will still run.
But on the seventeenth, if nothing has been passed, we will not be able to borrow money to pay interest on money we have already borrowed. Then there may be a default, a massive global financial cataclysm, the bond market could collapse, and our credit rating be downgraded. Even if a budget had been passed, if there is no money be brought in besides tax revenues, which will not cover the costs, then we will truly be headed toward a massive endgame indeed.
What is being heralded as a government shutdown is nowhere near it. The military will still be there, the coast guard will still patrol, and Homeland security will not relax its vigilance on our safety. Even the benefits will continue to pour out. We will not go without our bread and circuses. In the time of the founding fathers, what is being cut did not exist.
Much of the difficulty is because of things that are there that should not be. There does not need to be multiple agencies being certain that the government uses less gasoline, there does not need to be dozens of programs for the same problem. To pay for all of this we must borrow, and a man who borrows becomes servant to the man who lends to him.
Percales, the great Greek general is said to have often repeated to himself “Remember Percales, you command free men.” Perhaps the ladies and gentlemen of the government would do well to remember that. They represent Americans, and we are freemen. We will not be another man’s slave, not in taxes, not in debt, not in life, for they would rather die then lost their liberty.
Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hannibal Part Final: The Final Battle

Phelan California – Scipio, the general of the Roman armies, had brought his fleet, at last, to the shores of North Africa. Their mission was to land and invade Carthage. During the interim between the Second and Third Punic Wars, Cato the Elder had ended every one of his speeches, no matter what it was about, by saying “and furthermore Carthage must be destroyed.” Now Scipio had come to destroy Carthage.  When he leaped out of his ship, he slipped and fell, his men saw that as a bad omen. But he embraced the ground, shouting “Africa shall not escape me!”

Almost fifty years before, Carthage at lost the Second Punic War at the battle of Zama. Their war elephants had been spooked and had run into them. Hannibal, exhausted after years of fighting, almost won anyway, but the troops were rallied, and all was lost. But Carthage began to rebuild its armies, and Rome, frightened of it regaining its empire, ordered Hannibal delivered up to them. He fled to Antiochus III of Syria, who was preparing for his own war with Rome. He lost.
Hannibal fled to different people, commanding armies and having adventures. But at last the Romans had him cornered, and the king he was with at the time said he would give him up. He took a ring, in which he had for a long time carried poison, and killed himself. Saying:
Let us relieve the Romans from the anxiety they have so long experienced, since they think it tries their patience too much to wait for an old man's death.
Without Hannibal, Carthage was still determined to fight, and to fight to the death. They set fire to a Roman fleet by releasing fire ships. They held their walls despite anything Rome could do. The siege of Carthage lasted for years. At last Romans poured in, thousands of Carthaginians died in the final six days of ruthless, bitter, desperate fighting. Many of those who survived were sold into slavery. The city was burned systematically for seventeen days by the army. According to some, the city was then sown with salt.
The long war was over at last, and Rome was soul mistress of the Mediterranean, and a growing power. Within a hundred and fifty years it would become and empire. It had realized in the Punic Wars that it alone could rule if it was to have everything it wanted. The war was over, Hannibal was dead. But the man who would rebuild Carthage was Julius Caesar.

Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hannibal Part 4: Rome fails to fall

Phelan, California – It was the winter solstice, December, 218 years before the birth of Christ. The Roman general Sempronius was eager to give Hannibal battle before the other general, Scipio, could recover and assume command. The Roman soldiers were not ready to fight, to Hannibal decided now would be the best time to be certain they did.

There was a place between the two camps where thorns and brush ran alongside a water course. Hannibal put his brother Mago and some of his best men here during the night. When the morning came, the Numidian cavalry-some of the best in the world- were sent out to provoke the unruly Romans to march into battle. They hurled their javelins at the enemy, who at last began coming out.
The horsemen retreated from them, while Hannibal’s main army began to advance. On either of his flanks his elephants waited. The day was cold. The two wings of Hannibal’s army pushed the Roman flanks into the river. At about the same time, Rome’s rear passed the ambuscade. Hannibal’s brother and his men stormed out, attacking the Roman rear. The line began to collapse. The army was soon in full retreat.
The next night, the Roman army crossed the river in retreat, now again under the command of the ill Scipio. Hannibal captured a nearby supply depot, and waited for spring.
A series of battles followed, Battle of Lake Trasimene, in which a Roman army was forced into a lake and drowned. The Battle of Cannae, in which another Roman army was maneuvered to have the dust and sun in their faces, surrounded, and destroyed. But in the end the allies of Rome would not leave her, realizing that she would not fall.
Although the Romans could not defeat him in the field, they did not need to fight him. There was no way he could take the massive city itself. So the generals eventually stopped fighting him, and instead waited for him and his undefeated army to leave. They showed such contempt that when he camped before Rome, according to one historian, the very land he camped on was sold at public auction, showing the Romans expected him to leave.
At about this time the Roman senate became even more powerful, as the farmers came flocking into the city for protection, the senators bought their land from them, and the farmers joined the army.
During all the time he was in Italy, almost no attempt was made by Carthage to aid its native son against their great enemy. Hanno the great saw to that. In the end, the Roman sidestepped the man they could not defeat, and attacked Carthage. Carthage, the nation that had slighted their greatest general, now begged him to come home and protect them. He did come home, and the third and last Punic War was about to begin, but this time, it would be the battle for Carthage.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hannibal Part 3: The Surprise of Military History

Grand Junction, Colorado – Hannibal’s last name was Barca, which, in the language of the Carthaginians, meant “thunderbolt.” At the beginning of the Second Punic War, a thunderbolt would resound through Italy, made by this, not the oldest, but now the most famous of the Barcan brothers.
Ever since the First Punic War tensions between Rome and Carthage were boiling. Hannibal at last pushed them to a breaking point at the city of Saguntum, a Hellenized Iberian coastal city with diplomatic contacts with Rome.
There had been political storms in the city for some time. They ended at last when the Carthaginian supporters within the city were assassinated. Hannibal besieged the city and took it.
The story goes that envoys came to Rome, demanding Carthage back down. So goes the story, the Roman envoy asked the Carthaginian Senate “Do you want peace or do want war?”
“You decide for yourself.”
“I choose war.” And so war it would be.
It is a rule of thumb in warfare that you do not want to fight in your own front yard, but rather in your enemies’. Hannibal decided to invade Italy, hoping to gain Rome’s allies to his side. There were two ways, along the coast, where there was a Roman army, and through the Alps. He had about forty thousand men, and about forty elephants. He disappeared, and finally showed up again in Italy.
Hannibal, like Napoleon later, had one great asset, himself. He was a great leader. His story shows what can be accomplished when brothers work together. According to some, he lost nearly half of his force in crossing the Alps. But he had accomplished the impossible. They had to deal with natives within the passes, freezing cold, and getting men in full armor up rock walls. There is even a story of using vinegar to aid in getting through, mixed with fire. Showing up for the battle is half of winning. Hannibal had shown up, and now it was time to fight.
The thunderbolt had fallen, but it was not thunder that got things done, it was lightning. The Second Punic War was in its second year, it had about fifteen more to go. Back in Carthage, the Senate was determined to leave him hanging. Hannibal was determined to destroy Rome. The outcome of the battle would determine the history of the world.
Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hannibal Part 2: The Family Blood

Dillon, Colorado – The patriarch of the Barcid family was Hamilcar Barca. He was the general of Carthage who, when the city was executing all of its generals and admirals who had lost during the first Punic War, survived.
After the war, Carthage had a problem. They were in dire financial trouble due to tribute they had to pay. The laws stated that an army who had suffered a decisive defeat need not be paid. So now none of the armies of Carthage need be paid, which would greatly lesson their money problem. All save one that is, the army of Hamilcar, whose twenty thousand men were still intact and undefeated. After being recalled from the field, they sat around Carthage waiting to be paid. Hanno, a leading member of the ruling Council, refused to pay up. Hamilcar had, while they waited for their wages, kept them from mutiny for a long time.
But now, the men boiled with rage, they refused to listen to Hamilcar. Instead they mutinied. They were joined by slaves from Africa, and eventually cut Carthage off from the mainland by besieging nearby cities. Hanno the great was sent with 100 elephants to drive them back. He lost. Hamilcar was sent with another army, he had 70 elephants. In the end, with the help of what was left of Hanno’s army, he won.
But Carthage was in a state of decay. They were exhausted with war, they had lost a fleet, and they were no longer the great sea power they had been, Rome had surpassed them even there. But Hamilcar had a son. His name was Hannibal.
According to the legends, the young boy had wanted to go with his father to war. Hamilcar took him into the sacrifice room, with the fire roaring, he had him dip his hands into the blood, and ordered his son to swear to be the enemy of Rome forever. The boy swore. He and his brother were beginning to grow older now, and both were generals.
Across the sea Rome was growing stronger and stronger, and Carthage weaker and weaker. They could not long survive in the present situation. Rome had many allies, and Carthage had lost territory during the first Punic War.
During a series of battles with nearby nations Hamilcar, his sons, and his son in law Hasbrudul the Fair began to regain ground they had lost. Rome questioned them about their invasions, but Hamilcar was not one to listen someone else’s senate, and he ran his own. But then he fell in battle, fighting in an unknown place against an unknown tribe.
Hannibal and his brothers were now left to face Rome and Hanno. It was hard decide who was more dangerous. But the Second Punic War was about to begin, and it would last for seventeen years.

Andrew C. Abbott

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hannibal Part 1: One Alone Can Live

Dillon, Colorado – Carthage was formed, so the stories go, when a Phoenician Princess landed on the coast of North Africa. She asked a farmer if he would sell as much land as she could cover with a bull’s hide for a certain price. He consented, and thought he had the better end of the deal. The princess however, cut up the hide into very thin strips, covering enough land to form a city. The city would eventually come to be called Carthage, and has lasted almost 3,000 years.

The city soon became one of the major trading centers of the Mediterranean, its ships sailing to many ports. They were recognized as having one of the greatest, if not the greatest navy of their time.
However, not a hundred years after Carthage was founded, another city, across the sea, in Italy, was also built, named Rome. These upstart people were ferociously tenacious when it came to fighting. So much so that even when they lost, king Pyrrhus said “Another such victory shall ruin us,” thus a Pyrrhic victory.
In the five hundreds B.C the two cities signed a peace treaty, recognizing that Carthage was expanding even larger. They fought three wars in Sicily, and also with king Pyrrhus, they won. But Rome was also growing larger, in fact, they were beginning to wish for more room and more power.
In 288 B.C a Roman general died. His mercenary soldiers, rather than going home, seized a city in Sicily. A former general of Pyrrhus took action against the “sons of Mars.” Half of these men asked for help from Rome, the other half from Carthage. Carthage sent a fleet and a garrison.
The Romans thus lost control of the seas near Sicily, and sent in an army to regain control. They won in their initial fights with Carthage, but were repelled in the end. They did not have a navy to rival Carthage, and it began to seem that nobody did.
The First Punic War was over. But shortly afterward, in Carthage, the Barcin family came to power. During the unrest, Rome seized Corsica. The war was far, far from over, but now the Barcas were in control of Carthage. That would change things.
Andrew C. Abbott