Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lessons from History

America has been fighting Islamists for longer than many realize. Even before independence was declared, American ships were pirated and their Christian crews enslaved by Muslim pirates operating under the control of the “Dey of Algiers”—an Ottoman Islamist warlord ruling Algeria. When the colonists rebelled against British rule in 1776, American ships lost Royal Navy protection. A Revolutionary-War era alliance with France offered French protection to US ships, but it expired in 1783. Immediately US ships came under attack and in October 1784 the American trader “Betsey” was taken by Moroccan forces. This was followed with Algerians and Libyans (Tripolitans) capturing two more US ships in 1785.

Lacking the ability to project US naval force in the Mediterranean, America tried appeasement. In 1784, Congress agreed to fund tributes and ransoms in order to rescue US ships and buy the freedom of enslaved US sailors.

In 1786 Thomas Jefferson, then US ambassador to France, and John Adams, then US Ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Dey’s ambassador to Britain, in an attempt to negotiate a peace treaty based on Congress’ vote of funding. To the US Congress these two future Presidents later reported the reasons for the Muslims’ hostility towards America, a nation with which they had no previous contacts.

“…that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority 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, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Sound familiar?

By 1800 the annual tribute and ransom payments first agreed in the mid 1780s amounted to about $1 million--20% of the federal budget. (For fiscal year 2007, 20% of the US revenues would equal $560 billion.) In May, 1801 Yussif Karamanli, the Pasha of Tripoli, declared war on the US by chopping down the flagpole in front of the US Consulate. Seventeen years after appeasement and tribute payments had begun; President Thomas Jefferson led America into the First Barbary War.

From May 1801 to June 10, 1805 sailors and Marines of the young American nation fought battles immortalized in a line of the Marine Hymn: “…to the shores of Tripoli”. As American forces approached Tripoli on land threatening to capture it, Karamanli suddenly became interested in negotiations. The war ended with a treaty exchanging prisoners, Americans giving Karamanli another $60,000 in ransom and an agreement from the Muslims to cease attacks on US ships.

But for a Muslim to keep his word to an Infidel at the expense of opportunities to expand Islamic power is the Islamic equivalent of a mortal sin. In 1807 Muslim pirate attacks on American ships began anew. As a result Americans led by President James Madison fought Algerians in the Second Barbary War in 1815, leading to another treaty under which the Muslims paid American $10,000 for damages. The Algerian ruler almost immediately repudiated the new treaty after the US departure and again began piracy and the enslavement of captured Christian sailors necessitating an 1816 Anglo-Dutch shelling of Algiers and ultimately the colonization of Algeria in 1830 and Tunisia in 1881 by France and Libya in 1911 by Italy. By then most of the Islamic world was under Christian domination. With the Ottoman Empire defeated in WW1, secularist Turkish rebels in 1923 overthrew the last Islamic Caliphate, destroying the pinnacle of Islamist power and ending a line of succession allegedly reaching back to Mohammed.

16 Comments:

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Jay Tuch said...

Great stuff AC, I did not know this. Thanks for the lesson.

 
At 1:50 PM, Blogger nanc said...

we need a general pershing and kick the shiite out of these barbarians!

 
At 6:19 AM, Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Great history lesson! I was thinking about posting something much like this, but you beat me to it. Would you mind if I lifted your post and used it for something at my site? With a hat-tip, of course.

My world history students need to read this as reinforcement of a past lesson.

 
At 6:46 AM, Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Great history post, AC, and thanks. Here's another history post:

http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2007/03/holger-guardian-of-west.html

I'm wondering when the new caliphate comes about, and at the same time hoping that the Ahmadinejad administration, or whatever it is, collapses soon.

 
At 6:52 AM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Brilliant AC!...uh so ya mean they didnt start hating us because of the war in Iraq..shocker!

 
At 8:13 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

AOW...of course not. You can always use anything you want.

 
At 8:16 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Good question Steve. Shi'ites and Sunnis believe in different lines of succession to the caliphate so I doubt that one would ever be able to claim the title.
I'm still amazed by how many people in our government who don't even understand the basic differences between the two sects of Islam.

 
At 11:01 AM, Blogger Urban Infidel said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Urban Infidel said...

Funny how things never seem to change.
There is a very good reason why the Corsican flag [although she belongs to France] has the image of a severed Moor's head and why the flag of Sardegna has three.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Freedomnow said...

Argh Matey!!! Me spy sum hidden treasure awaitin’ ta be plundered.

But now us pirates be civilized. Weze a publish fancy books and arr paid in Spanish gold fer our public appearances.

Aye, tis anti-Americanism not a twenty gun warship that be our weapons.

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger FreeCyprus said...

Great history lesson AC. Hard to blame poor Israel for these "problems", huh (but I'm sure some Imam will strangely try...)

I'd love to link to this if it's ok.

 
At 8:54 PM, Blogger sonia said...

Good old times. Fortunately, Jefferson didn't have to deal with crazy women camping in front of the White House, college professors claiming that US was imperialist and a Congress setting a deadline for Marines' withdrawal from Tripoli...

There was an Alien and Sedition Act back then, and plenty of trees...

 
At 3:31 AM, Blogger Always On Watch Two said...

Crusader,
Off topic....I've given you the Thinking Blogger Award!

 
At 8:37 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

I doubt most Americans today even know we were at war in Barbary!

Much less understand why...

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger beakerkin said...

There were some daring raids in those conflicts by Decatur.

 
At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Ktesibios said...

"There was an Alien and Sedition Act back then, and plenty of trees..."

Bzzt! Wrong!

Of the four laws referred to as the Alien and Sedition Acts, two expired with the Adams administration in 1801, one was repealed in 1802, and one, which permits the deportation of nationals of countries the USA is at war with, is still in force.

Even when serving as Adams' Vice President, Jefferson denounced the Acts as unconstitutional; as President he pardoned every person who had been convicted under them.

Thank you for demonstrating the tight coupling between authoritarian aggression, eliminationist rhetoric and historical ignorance.

 

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