Saturday, June 02, 2007

To the Shores of Tripoli

Quickly scan the archives of your memory and list the top ten reasons that you have heard for the Islamist jihad against our nation, freedom, and way of life. Our friendship with Israel, imperialist economic oppression, lust for oil, George W. Bush, cartoons, yada, yada, yada?

According to Gerard W. Gawalt, the manuscript specialist for early American history in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Muslim leaders must have foreseen these reasons long before they ever took place. In Gawalt's research he records the circumstances during the first days of American independence:
After the United States won its independence in the treaty of 1783, it had to protect its own commerce against dangers such as the Barbary pirates. As early as 1784 Congress followed the tradition of the European shipping powers and appropriated $80,000 as tribute to the Barbary states, directing its ministers in Europe, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, to begin negotiations with them. Trouble began the next year, in July 1785, when Algerians captured two American ships and the dey of Algiers held their crews of twenty-one people for a ransom of nearly $60,000.

Paying the ransom would only lead to further demands, Jefferson argued in letters to future presidents John Adams, then America's minister to Great Britain, and James Monroe, then a member of Congress. As Jefferson wrote to Adams in a July 11, 1786, letter, "I acknolege [sic] I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace thro' the medium of war." Paying tribute will merely invite more demands, and even if a coalition proves workable, the only solution is a strong navy that can reach the pirates, Jefferson argued in an August 18, 1786, letter to James Monroe: "The states must see the rod; perhaps it must be felt by some one of them. . . . Every national citizen must wish to see an effective instrument of coercion, and should fear to see it on any other element than the water. A naval force can never endanger our liberties, nor occasion bloodshed; a land force would do both." "From what I learn from the temper of my countrymen and their tenaciousness of their money," Jefferson added in a December 26, 1786, letter to the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, "it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them." [...]

As he declared in his first annual message to Congress: "To this state of general peace with which we have been blessed, one only exception exists. Tripoli, the least considerable of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself to denounce war, on our failure to comply before a given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean. . . ."

The American show of force quickly awed Tunis and Algiers into breaking their alliance with Tripoli. The humiliating loss of the frigate Philadelphia and the capture of her captain and crew in Tripoli in 1803, criticism from his political opponents, and even opposition within his own cabinet did not deter Jefferson from his chosen course during four years of war. The aggressive action of Commodore Edward Preble (1803-4) forced Morocco out of the fight and his five bombardments of Tripoli restored some order to the Mediterranean. However, it was not until 1805, when an American fleet under Commodore John Rogers and a land force raised by an American naval agent to the Barbary powers, Captain William Eaton, threatened to capture Tripoli and install the brother of Tripoli's pasha on the throne, that a treaty brought an end to the hostilities. [...]

In fact, it was not until the second war with Algiers, in 1815, that naval victories by Commodores William Bainbridge and Stephen Decatur led to treaties ending all tribute payments by the United States.(emphasis mine)

Thomas Jefferson apparently popularized the 'carry a big stick' policy long before Theodore Roosevelt. He was dissatisfied with the first treaty and its tribute requirement so he fought again to delete the tribute clause.

Today's 'enlightened' reasoning behind Islamist militant action against the United States doesn't really apply to the larger historical picture of their terroristic activities.

There is one reason that many of you may have never heard before.

According to a Muslim apologetic site, Ishmael:

The people of Ishmael are clearly the Arabs (through biological descent), and all Muslims through theological descent. No knowledgeable non-Muslim would dispute that.

"And the angel of the LORD said to her [Hagar], "Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsman." (Genesis 16:11-12, ESV)

The festering of the worst of this biological and theological heritage, coupled with modern technology has made today's Barbary Pirates an extreme danger to anyone within their sights. Jefferson reasoned that a second war was necessary as does President Bush. In this he has my full support, only I would request that he maximize the abilities of our armed forces and not attempt to carry a smaller, more popular stick.