Thursday, August 7, 2008

Why do they attack us?

Michael Medved wrote an interesting column outlining the history of the Barbary Wars, the first foreign conflict involving the United States.

Rulers from the Barbary states in Africa (Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli—today’s Libya) relied on piracy as a way to enrich themselves. European nations paid local leaders in these countries "tributes" to protect their shipping interests. Until America's independence, British money protected American shipping, but afterward, several U.S. vessels were attacked, their crews enslaved.

President Jefferson sent ships from the navy across that Atlantic to deal with the pirates.

Medved draws a number of excellent parallels between the Barbary Wars and todays war on terror. Most notably, the fact that the pirates justified their actions based on their interpretation of their Islamic faith.

Medved writes:

Islamic enmity toward the US is rooted in the Muslim religion, not recent American policy. In 1786, America’s Ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson, joined our Ambassador in London, John Adams, to negotiate with the Ambassador from Tripoli, Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. The Americans asked their counterpart why the North African nations made war against the United States, a power “who had done them no injury", and according the report filed by Jefferson and Adams the Tripolitan diplomat replied: “It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.”

The rest of the column notes other similarities between that conflict and todays battle against Islamic extremists.

It's well worth a read.

1 comment:

Bryan said...

Good job highlighting that column, Mike. I heard Medved discussing the issue on his radio program and made a mental note to blog about it. Things easily get lost in the pile of mental notes, though. :)