The Second Time Around
Robert L. Wichterman
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, PA.
How many Americans are aware that the current action in Iraq and Afghanistan is our second undeclared war against radical Islam?
The first confrontation began in 1790, with the Barbary pirates demanding that the new United States pay them "tribute" to not attack our commercial shipping in the Mediterranean. These Muslim marauders were from Morocco, Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers. The future presidents, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who were serving as European ambassadors at the time, attempted to negotiate with a representative from Tripoli, and were told that:
The Koran demanded that all nations acknowledge Islamic authority. If they did not comply and pay, it was the Muslim's right and duty to make war upon whomever they could find, and make slaves of all they take as prisoners.
The United States thus paid 20 percent of its annual revenue to these Barbary States.
In 1801, President Jefferson bypassed Congress, knowing they would not vote for a declaration of war, and ordered "a policing action" (as with the Korean War), in order to end those states' aggression. Our Consul in Tunis had warned him, "In the Middle East, power alone is respected, and the only language they would understand is terror." Nothing has changed.
The Marine Corps' hymn tells of their contribution to our victory with the line, "to the shores of Tripoli." A regiment of U.S. Marines had marched over 100 miles across the desert to attack Tripoli from the land, while our Navy blockaded and bombarded the city from the harbor. From 1802-05, it cost us $3 million to defeat them. We also earned the respect of the European nations, many of whom were still paying them "tribute."
Over 200 years have passed, and the militant Islamists have not altered their beliefs one whit. We are still confronted with their efforts to undermine and subjugate our system of law and order, and replace it with their theocratic dictatorship.
To those who would bring our military home from the Middle East tomorrow, an inconvenient truth is that in late February, 1998, Osama bin Laden, and four other caliphs, issued a Fatwa -- declaration of war -- against the United States. Muslims everywhere were to kill Americans if we did not remove our military from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and end our Air Force's domination of Iraqi air space. In addition, we also had to terminate our unequivocal support of Israel.
Al Qaeda subsequently bombed several of our embassies in Africa and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, plus the U.S.S. Cole in Southern Yemen. Then, on 9/11, they hi-jacked four airplanes, and attacked us in New York City and Washington, DC, hitting the Twin Towers of The World Trade Center, and the Pentagon. Had it not been for the heroic actions of the passengers on Flight 93, which crashed in Somerset County, PA, there may have been more devastation in our nation's capital. Those who believe that radical Islam will allow us to exist in peace, if we will only pull our forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq, are making a fundamental, and possibly costly, mistake.
It is clear that the elite news media of the West is attempting to persuade the U.S.-led coalition to leave Iraq as rapidly as possible. This goal distresses our friends and allies, while it allows al Qaeda and Hezbollah to be more confident.
Cal Thomas quoted Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Israeli Prime Minister, who had testified before a House committee: "What is at stake today," he warned soberly, "is nothing less than the survival of our civilization. Our values are hated with an unmatched fanaticism, which seeks to destroy our societies, and our way of life."
Therefore, be careful what you wish for; you may get it. *
"Imagine this war as a sort of grotesque race. The jihadists and sectarians win if they can kill enough Americans to demoralize us enough that we flee before Iraqis and Afghans stabilize their newfound freedom. They lose if they can't. Prosperity, security, and liberty are the death knell to radical Islam. It's that elemental. --Victor Davis Hanson