Friday, February 24, 2017

US Terrorism Fight: 19th versus 21st Century (Part I)

The United States has been fighting Islamic extremists for centuries (Since the United States won its independence from England) and little has changed and that is not good news. At the turn of the 19th century the US was fighting Muslim pirates in the Barbary Wars. The Barbary countries consisted of the African Mediterranean nations Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli (present day Libya). Thomas Jefferson went to war primarily against the Barbary nation Tripoli once he became President. Tripoli pirates had been capturing American merchant ships including its goods and sailors for decades. Captured sailors would be given a choice of slavery or to convert to Islam. Most became slaves while a few converted. Many that became slaves died in bondage. The first Barbary War ended with an American victory, but the British convinced the Barbary nations to restart their piracy efforts against America during the War of 1812. The Barbary Wars officially ended in 1815 under President James Madison with a convincing victory for the Americans. So how were the Barbary wars similar to the fight against Islamic extremism today?

1. Muslim extremism is at war with the World. Muslim pirates did not discriminate and would attack ships from any country from around the globe and today Islamic extremist do not discriminate against anyone either. Muslims will attack everyone including Muslims who have different beliefs (i.e. in Syria and Iraq). And like the Barbary Wars, the chief leader in the fight against extreme terrorists (piracy) is (was) the United States. Other nations would prefer to pay the Barbary nations a bribe to allow for the safe passage of their merchant ships than fight the pirates. Today, much has not changed. Other nations expect and rely on the United States to lead the effort to fight radical Muslim extremists through intelligence, cyberwarfare, and warfare. Unfortunately, Obama has not been leading the effort and that is why under his presidency terrorism has grown in numbers, attacks, victims, and area. The Barbary pirates also grew in size, victims, and attacks under complacent presidents with weak military policies: Washington and Adams.

2. Money is power. Pirates garnered money through bribes, ransoms, and the selling of stolen goods. Modern terrorists garner money through stolen oil fields. However, the Barbary nations and present day countries controlled by terrorists are some of the poorest nations in the world and are some of the most religiously intolerant nations. The riches only go to a few of the most powerful people while the general populous is neglected. However, it is that neglect which is leveraged by powerful terrorist (pirate) leaders to convince the populace to join their cause – blaming their troubles on Western theology.

3. Muslims are masters of unconventional and unpredictable warfare techniques which makes their attacks hard to defend – whether it be by piracy; or by hijacking planes; or by bombing soft targets; or by suicide bombers; or by driving a car over innocent civilians, or by “lone wolf’s” hacking up coworkers in their workplace. When it comes to Muslim terrorism, expect the unexpected. Barbary pirates would surrender only to attack again once Americans would put down their guard. Conventional warfare is a thing of the past as Barbary and present day terrorists both proved their cowardice by hiding behind innocent civilians.

4. Originally, America’s military plan to defeat Tripoli was to blockade the port of Tripoli. This strategy went on for years and failed to work. This is similar to our present day strategy to deal with rogue Muslim states such as Iran – Sanctions. Blockades and sanctions are strategies targeted to cripple the economies of terrorist (pirate) nations. However, these techniques have had limited success because only the poor and general populous feel the effects of these strategies, not the few rich and powerful leaders.

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