Saturday, April 11, 2009

"To the Shores of Tripoli"

The world continues to watch the unfolding story of Captain Phillips from the Maersk Alabama, held hostage by pirates in a lifeboat off the coast of Somalia. Pirates operating from Somalia now hold about a dozen ships with more than 200 crew members, according to the International Maritime Bureau, a piracy watchdog group based in Malaysia. The bureau lists 66 attacks since January, not including this most recent attack on the Alabama.

For those who are so inclined, the Wikipedia articles on the First and Second Barbary Wars and this piece by Christopher Hitchens from Time make for interesting reading. Actions by US Marines in the Barbary Wars are memorialized in the familiar line from the Marine Anthem, "to the shores of Tripoli."

Of note in both of the above articles is this quote:
" was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners."

It seems that as with the Barbary Pirates of two hundred years ago, or countries such as Somalia and Sudan today, Islam, piracy, and slavery go hand in hand. It is also noteworthy that two hundred years ago, the nascent United States of America had to use its newly established Navy and Marines to subdue the Barbary Pirates, while the nations of Europe were content to pay them tribute. Nothing much has changed in that regard either.

But, also in that regard, the Somali coastline is no longer than the one from which the Barbary Pirates operated. I wonder how long it would take today's American air and sea power to destroy every ocean-capable vessel on the Somali coast. The real question is whether we have a European-style wimp as President, or one like Thomas Jefferson who was determined that this injustice should not prevail.

Semper Fi!

1 comment:

Dave said...

Hate to break the news to ya, but Jefferson was the biggest "european-style wimp" among the founding fathers (Just read his biography if you don't believe me). ...

But there are some things that even a "european-style wimp" won't (or shouldn't) put up with.