‘Carthago Delenda Est’ or ‘Athenae Delenda Est’

Since yesterday morning, Feb. 17, shivers of haughtiness were sent through the minds and hearts of all the flag-waving Greeks of the left and the rest of the independent supporters of the extreme right of our nation. Shocks of electricity were caused by the article written by the great Mr. Paul Krugman, who drew a parallel between Germany and the Latin Cato the Elder who wished to destroy Carthage with all his might, as much as the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis yearns for being on TV! I would like to quote Cato and encapsulate it in Greek as said by the ancient Greek historian Plutarch, “Δοκεί δε μοι και Καρχηδόνα μη είναι,” which means “Carthage must be destroyed.”

Being compared to historic Carthage by the great author and Nobel-prize winning economist, Paul Krugman is important, since, as everyone knows that city appeared in history as a superpower in the Mediterranean, legendary for its wealth. Actually, Hannibal the Carthaginian not only crossed the Alps with his elephants, but also arrived at the gates — “ante portas” — of Rome, after the victorious Battle of Cannae, in 216 B.C. (Cannae has nothing to do with the city of Cannes where the well-known film festival takes place.) To deal with the Carthaginian expansion in Sicily, the Romans learned to build warships and after three Carthaginian victories, they finally triumphed.

Applying mutatis mutandis, at least some because there are so many that you can lose count, it can be said that modern-day Greece is threatening Germany’s dominance in Europe, and not only in the Mediterranean, in the same way Carthage was threatening Rome. The rest of the European countries would have absolutely no reason to join forces against us if they were not afraid of our power. Neither would Mr. Schaeuble state in terror that he “feels sorry for the Greeks …. They’ve elected a government which is currently acting irresponsibly.”

He had once again in the past expressed such feelings about Cyprus and we saw the outcome, but that is irrelevant.

I don’t know why, but instead of Carthage, Israel comes to my mind. I cannot help but draw a parallel to our situation with Israel in its formation. It might be an urban legend, but since it goes straight to our heart, I will tell the story. It was 1948, and the state of Israel being led by Ben Gurion, had just been declared independent, and famine was threatening the country. It is said that somebody suggested in parliament that they declare war on the U.S, be defeated, and when the United States occupied their country, they would become the 50th state, thereby resolving their financial problems.

I guess this story inspired the making of the well-known masterpiece “The Mouse that Roared,” in 1959, starring Peter Sellers in three roles. The plot is about a tiny principality in Europe, which sends a band of bowmen dressed in armor and helmets to invade New York in order to cause American retaliation and collect war reparations through American foreign aid. No, for God’s sake, I don’t suggest dropping paratroops and at the same time deploying ground forces led by 91-year-old Greek World War II hero Manolis Glezos to invade Germany. The uneven fight is not as interesting as slow decision-making in Europe. Before a decision is taken to stop the aged hero, he might have managed to climb the Brandenburg Gate and torn down a flag or two with unforeseeable consequences.

Conclusion: Rhetoric has its rules; otherwise, tragedy sweetly interlocks with comedy.

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