Monday, May 09, 2005

I was going to post this last Friday, but got busy with something else.

That was the 200th anniversary of our FIRST unilateral invasion of the Mid-East (Algiers, actually).

And the history behind the fist verse of the Marine Corps Hymn:
'From the Halls of Montizuma to the shores of Tripoli'

The article gives this reminder of why we were there, then:
One of the unpleasant realities that the young and still untested United States had to face at the turn of the 19th century was the threat of piracy against its merchant shipping in the Mediterranean. The leading European powers had long dealt with the threat by paying tribute - we would now say protection money - to the rulers of the Barbary States of North Africa: Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis, and Morocco. At first the United States followed suit, but in May 1801 the Pasha of Tripoli was overthrown by a usurper who brazenly demanded more and, when it was refused, declared war on the United States.

President Thomas Jefferson decided to fight, despite the fact that the Navy had been nearly dismantled after the Revolution. In August a blockade of Tripoli was established by Commodore Richard Dale, who had fought with John Paul Jones. The blockade, small and ineffective at first, continued for nearly four years and gradually, with reinforcements from home and some borrowed vessels from the King of the Two Sicilies, took command of the waters of the Barbary Coast. The naval war is best remembered for the daring raid into Tripoli harbor led by Lieutenant Stephen Decatur in February 1804 to burn the captured U.S. frigate Philadelphia.

A couple of parallels jump out at me. The EUropeans were paying off bloodthirsty dictators then, too. Also Tripoli signed a treaty of peace on June 4, and other Barbary states quickly followed. State-sponsored terrorism piracy in the Mediterranean was ended, kinda like what's fixin' to happen in Iraq.

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