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April 26, 2007

Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates - America's 'First' War On Terror


Two centuries ago, without congressional or public debate, a president whom we think of today as peaceable, Thomas Jefferson, launched America's first war on foreign soil, a war against terror. The enemy was Muslim; the war was waged unconventionally, with commandos, native troops, and encrypted intelligence, and launched from foreign bases under short-term alliances.

For nearly two hundred years, the Barbary pirates had haunted the Mediterranean, enslaving tens of thousands of Europeans and extorting millions of dollars from their countries in a mercenary holy war against Christendom. - Source

Christopher Hitchens piece at Townhall today reminds me that not much has changed since Jefferson went to war against Muslim pirates in the Barbary Wars; America is still having problems with a global population of Muslims (the Islamists) with radically different views than our own of peace, tolerance, norms of a civilized society, and how nations should interact with one another fairly (although there are those who argue that the conflict between Americans and the Barbary pirates was not a holy war between Islam and Christianity, rather the wars concerned trade and were in actuality an extension of America's War of Independence; this view ignores facts that point to it involving religious and trade issues).

In referring to Linda Colley's excellent book Captives, which shows the reaction of the English and American publics to a slave trade of which they were victims rather than perpetrators, he writes:

How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? We dimly recall that Miguel de Cervantes was briefly in the galleys. But what of the people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland, all carried off by "corsair" raiders in a single night?
Given that these facts are indeed the case, it's interesting how Black Muslims turn such a blind eye to the originating source of slavery in the U.S. But that aside, the real point here is that not much has changed since America's First War on Terror that occurred during the years of 1801-1805:
... Campaigns against the seizure of hostages by Muslim powers, and their exploitation as forced labor, fired up many a church congregation in Britain and America and fueled many a press campaign. But even the dullest soul could regard the continued triangular Atlantic slave trade between Africa, England, and the Americas and perceive the double standard at work. Thus, the struggle against Barbary may have helped to force some of the early shoots of abolitionism.

... the Barbary Wars gave Americans an inkling of the fact that they were, and always would be, bound up with global affairs. Providence might have seemed to grant them a haven guarded by two oceans, but if they wanted to be anything more than the Chile of North America--a long littoral ribbon caught between the mountains and the sea--they would have to prepare for a maritime struggle as well as a campaign to redeem the unexplored landmass to their west. The U.S. Navy's Mediterranean squadron has, in one form or another, been on patrol ever since.

... would it be too much to claim that many Americans saw a radical incompatibility between the Barbary system and their own?

Again, not much has changed; we still see a radical incompatibility between the Islamists agenda and our own. Unfortunately, Democrats apparently believe that the problem will "just go away" without a fight for the survival of Western civilization and our way of life. However, as evidenced by history, nothing has changed since the days of the Barbary Wars, and whether or not change in the future is favorable to our continued existance as a free nation, depends upon what we do now. With the Democrats having just surrendered to the Islamists, our future isn't looking very bright.

Do read all of Hitchen's piece, "Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates."

Cross posted from Hyscience

Posted by Richard at April 26, 2007 12:19 PM

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