“To the shores of Tripoli”

The geography of anti-U.S. protest lit by anti-Mohammed movie. map: Washington Post.

“I will fight my country’s battles, in the air, on land, on sea,” sing the U.S. Marines. Okay, but just how thin can we spread it before it snaps?

According to Wikipedia, the reason we have a navy is Barbary Coast pirates were bleeding the U.S. Treasury with ransom demands for captured sailors. When Jefferson was president, the U.S. attacked what is now Libya to get them to stop boarding U.S. ships. Who knew? We’ve been messing around over there for 200 years. I feel stupid not knowing that. It puts our current imperial pretensions in perspective. All we really want to be able to do is conduct business anywhere in the world, without interference from native populations. Kinda like we did here at home, despite the Indians. Suddenly, it all makes sense.

The U.S. schooner Enterprise (left)  defeats the Tripolitan polacca Tripoli, August 1, 1801.

Again, according to Wikipedia: 18 years into U.S. independence, newly elected President Jefferson stopped paying tribute to Tripoli. So Tripoli declared war, seizing U.S. ships and crews. So the U.S. Navy blockaded Tripoli. On August 1, 1801, the 12-gun schooner USS Enterprise defeated the evenly matched 14-gun Tripoli, in a victory decisive for U.S. ascendancy. We’ve never looked backed. Maybe it’s time to start.


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