Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

October 29, 2012

STUMPTALK: Jefferson and the pasha

CROSSVILLE — One of the results of the Revolution was that, as a new autonomous country, the United States lost British naval protection on the high seas. Lacking a navy for protection, American commercial seamen were at the mercy of unscrupulous governments and pirates. The “Barbary pirates” were a particularly onerous lot. The Barbary regime (today roughly Algeria, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) regarded itself to be entitled to demand tribute from nations to sail undisturbed through the Strait of Gibraltar. Many American commercial ships were taken and, as was the practice of the day, captured seamen and passengers were sold into slavery. In 1785 John Adams and Thomas Jefferson met with the ambassador from Tripoli in London (Abd Al-Rahman) to inquire how Tripoli justified the piratical activities.

They reported his response thusly: “It was written in the Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners and that every Mussulman (note: Muslim) who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.” That is identical to Iranian Ahmadinejad’s stupid, arrogant primitive rant in 2012.

Jefferson was particularly aggravated by the interference with free trade and the arrogance of the “Mussulman” regime that combined religion and government … exactly as medieval regimes such as Iran do today with Sharia law. Adams thought it better to avoid war and pacify the pirates. Soon the tribute demanded approached 10 percent of the American national budget. There continued to be political disagreement in America regarding the Barbary pirates until, in 1801, the pasha of Tripoli wanted increased tribute from America and so declared war. Big mistake! Tripoli was heavily bombarded by the new Marines that Jefferson had sent. In 1802 Congress passed legislation allowing Jefferson to direct the navy to have a permanent presence in the Mediterranean. This time it was Morocco that declared war. Tripoli captured the U.S.S.  Philadelphia. This resulted in yet another attack on Tripoli with the Americans blowing up the Philadelphia and again heavily damaging the harbor and its defenses. In 1805 William Eaton and a detachment of Marines marched on Tripoli from Egypt and attacked from land. This resulted in yet another treaty which resulted in the release of the Philadelphia’s crew and a settlement of the tribute problem. 

In 1815 Omar Pasha thought that America had been weakened by the war of 1812 and resumed the piracy and demands for tribute. He awoke one morning to find the harbor filled with American ships sent by President Monroe and in time to see his ships being blown apart. He had to pay reparations and release all hostages. President Monroe wrote, “It is settled policy that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute. The United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none.” We did not hear from the Mideast pashas for a very long time. Now, of course, “tribute” is given the euphemistic and politically less aggravating name of “foreign aid.” It seems that we, and most particularly Obama, have not learned from history and so of course are doomed to repeat it, but in this case it is nuclear threats from a medieval pasha rather than wooden frigates, and instead of the Strait of Gibraltar it is the Strait of Hormuz. Jefferson was, of course, quite correct in his assessment. More recent history clearly shows us that appeasement is not and never has been a successful foreign policy. We can put Obama in the same list of failed leaders with Neville Chamberlain, who sought to appease Hitler and announced he had obtained “peace in our time” by giving Hitler bits of Czechoslovakia for his demand for “lebensraum.” That lasted a matter of months.  Earlier, Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations proved a complete failure. Obama will discover that an appeaser is simply one who feeds others to the crocodile in the hopes it will eat him last. Obama is no Jefferson. If we understand history, a vote for Obama is a vote for war. Let’s see, how does that go again? “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli…..”

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014