A Carthaginian peace is the imposition of a very brutal "peace" achieved by completely crushing the enemy. The term derives from the peace imposed on Carthage by Rome. After the Second Punic War, Carthage lost all its colonies, was forced to demilitarize and pay a constant tribute to Rome and could enter war only with Rome's permission. At the end of the Third Punic War, the Romans systematically burned Carthage to the ground and enslaved its population.
The term refers to the outcome of a series of wars between Rome and the Phoenician city of Carthage, known as the Punic Wars. The two empires fought three separate wars against each other, beginning in 264 BC and ending in 146 BC.
At the end of the Third Punic War, the Romans laid siege to Carthage. When they took the city, they killed most of the inhabitants, sold the rest into slavery, and destroyed the entire city. There is no ancient evidence for modern accounts that the Romans sowed the ground with salt.
By extension, a Carthaginian peace can refer to any brutal peace treaty demanding total subjugation of the defeated side.
Modern use of the term is often extended to any peace settlement in which the peace terms are overly harsh and designed to accentuate and perpetuate the inferiority of the loser. Thus, after World War I, many (the economist John Maynard Keynes among them) described the Treaty of Versailles as a "Carthaginian Peace."
The Morgenthau Plan put forward after World War II has also been described as a Carthaginian peace, as it advocated the deindustrialization of Germany. It was intended to severely curb the influence of German power in the region and to prevent its remilitarization, as had occurred after World War I (Remilitarization of the Rhineland). The Morgenthau Plan was dropped in favor of the Marshall Plan (1948–1952), which entailed the rebuilding of Western European infrastructure, particularly in West Germany.
General Lucius D. Clay, a deputy to general Dwight D. Eisenhower and, in 1945, Military Governor of the U.S. Occupation Zone in Germany, would later remark that "there was no doubt that JCS 1067 contemplated the Carthaginian peace which dominated our operations in Germany during the early months of occupation. This is while the US was following the Morgenthau Plan." Clay would later replace Eisenhower as governor and as commander-in-chief in Europe. The Marshall Plan was favored as a revival of the West German economy was considered to be necessary for the recovery of the economy of Europe. West Germany was regarded as a key bulwark against the Eastern Bloc.
- Ridley, R.T. (1986). "To Be Taken with a Pinch of Salt: The Destruction of Carthage". Classical Philology. 81 (2): 140–146. doi:10.1086/366973. JSTOR 269786.
- Keynes, John Maynard. The Economic Consequences of the Peace. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Howe, 1920.
- A Nation at War in an Era of Strategic Change, p.129 (Google Books)
- L.Loreto, L’inesistente pace cartaginese, in M. Cagnetta ed., La pace dei vinti, Roma 1997, 79 ff.