Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama, look to Jefferson, and not to Europe!

Here’s the current score: Yankees 4, Pirates ZERO.

Yes, I’m talking about the Somali pirates who had tried to hijack and American flagged ship and ended up kidnapping the American captain of the ship. I have praise for the American Navy for killing three of the pirates—who undoubtedly deserved what they got, even if they were just “untrained teens”.

Should we praise President Obama? In my book, it’s still too early to give him any real praise.

Why? Because the order he gave, giving the military the ability to make the call and decide when and if they had to use force to free the hostage, was a common-sense order that any president should have given. It was the right thing to do, and I’ll give him that. If he hadn’t, I’d be screaming bloody murder that he had betrayed our citizen and undermined our national honor.So he gets those kudos.

But is that enough? This is just one of the tests that Obama is taking, and in my opinion, the test is not over. And Obama is not scoring well, so far.

On the same day when the North Koreans launched an intercontinental missile, Obama declared that the USA would not respond, and what’s more, we would cut funds to missile defense technology. And while Iran rushes headlong toward obtaining nuclear technology that is probably intended for nuclear weapons, Obama is violating his campaign promise and is courting Iran, trying to negotiate with them. And meanwhile, Obama bowed to the Saudi King, violating American protocol and transmitting a message of submissiveness to the Middle East. Then his liberal supporters of the Congressional Black Caucus rushed off to kiss up to the dictatorial regime in Cuba, at the same time that another Democrat dashed to Venezuela to praise Chavez and the FARC apologist Piedad Córdoba. More costly mistakes on the test.

You’re headed toward a costly failure in international relations, Mr. President.

It is instructive to review the history of US endeavors to eliminate piracy off the African coast that started with President Thomas Jefferson, because not much has changed. Back then, the Europeans had a long standing policy of appeasement and had been giving ransom to Muslim pirates all along the Barbary coast of North Africa, from Morocco through Libya. This was a tradition, after all, that dated back to the years of the crusades, when Muslims attacked the “infidels” and held tens of thousands of them as hostages for ransom. Jefferson was a visionary for his times. He rightly argued that paying ransoms simply encouraged more of the same barbarous behavior—sound familiar?—and instead campaigned for years before his presidency for a more forceful response. But to no avail. He had been ambassador to France, and tried to get the Europeans to join in the effort. It should be of no surprise to know that the main European powers, including France, Germany, and Great Britain, did not want to pursue a violent solution. Other nations did agree in principal, but the American presidents at the time thought it would be cheaper to just keep paying tribute to free American hostages.

However, as soon as he was elected president, and after the Libyan dey charged an un-Godly amount of “protection money” to keep his subjects from attacking American ships, Jefferson got fed up and sent a few outfitted ships carrying U.S. Marines to deal a blow to the governments of Morocco, Algiers, and Libya. This forced those governments to stop preying on American ships, and it was from this effort that the Marine fight theme was born, referencing the famous line “From the Halls of Montezuma (Mexico) to the shores of Tripoli (Libya)…” It is also where the Marines got the name “Leathernecks”, from the protection they wore on their necks to shield them from Muslim scimitar blows.

This short story is just one more illustration of American exceptionalism from the annals of world history. While the cowardly Europeans clung to a tradition of acquiescence to foreign demands and a willingness to capitulate to the Muslim lords, the newly minted American nation was resolved to bow down to no king, nor to capitulate to any foreign tyrant.

Jefferson led by example. He didn’t need any global government or multi-nation “coalition” to move forward with his plan. And when one of our ships was sunk and the crew captured, causing uproar at home and a plummet in his popularity, he did not bend to public opinion polls. No, Jefferson ordered a surge in forces and dealt a punishing blow to the tyrant in Tripoli.

Twenty years later, the British finally tired of the onslaught of Barbary pirates and rallied forces to fight them. Soon, Europe as a whole followed the action.So, two hundred years later, international maritime law has disarmed the merchant marines, leaving them vulnerable once again to Muslim hoards seeking enrichment through organized criminal activity.

The Easter weekend victory over the four untrained teenage pirates is a minor one. Did anyone ever really believe that the United States Navy could be stalemated by a boatload of punks with AK-47 rifles? Please.

The real test is to come: Mr. President, do you have the exceptional fortitude that Jefferson displayed and that rallied Europe to bare its fists in defiance? Will you take on the problem by attacking it at the source?Or will you, like so many weaker men before you, simply send envoys to sue for a peaceful truce?

This President failed so many problems in this test already; it is hard to have faith in his judgment. But a decisive policy now would do wonders to restore American faith in his bumbling presidency.

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