November 04, 2005

Delenda Carthago

You sometimes have to doubt that any world leader has learned from history, or even stayed awake during history lectures or classical studies.
Witness the flap the Iranian president Ahmadinejad caused when he called for the "destruction of Israel" during a speech to an anti-Zionist conference.
You would think this is the first time - shock/horror - a country's leader has called for the annihilation of another country. But everybody remembers that doofus President Reagan and his "We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes" joke against the Soviet Union, but of course nobody batted an eyelid because, well, wasn't the Soviet Union the archetypical Evil Empire for a generation brought up on Star Wars imagery and a Hollywood sense of foreign relations, and thus deserves a fate worthy of Darth Vader?
The call for the obliteration of the Enemy has a long pedigree. These days, respected American think tanks are named after classical luminaries (or their grandson) who called for wiping Carthage off the earth. Cato, the Elder ended all his speeches, as every schoolboy learning Latin knows, with:
Delenda Carthago! (Carthage Must Be Destroyed)
Iran's president simply follows in the footsteps of any potentate (Persian, Roman, you name it) who wanted to rid the world of any civilisation.

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