Saturday, December 17, 2005

America's Earliest Terrorists

Ideas don't gain entrance to the Cliche Club without possessing, at some level, a fundamental truth. Case in point: those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Heard that one before, right? Joshua E. London at the National Review Online has a valuable lesson which illustrates this notion:

At the dawn of a new century, a newly elected United States president was forced to confront a grave threat to the nation — an escalating series of unprovoked attacks on Americans by Muslim terrorists. Worse still, these Islamic partisans operated under the protection and sponsorship of rogue Arab states ruled by ruthless and cunning dictators.

Sluggish in recognizing the full nature of the threat, America entered the war well after the enemy’s call to arms. Poorly planned and feebly executed, the American effort proceeded badly and at great expense — resulting in a hastily negotiated peace and an equally hasty declaration of victory.

As timely and familiar as these events may seem, they occurred more than two centuries ago. The president was Thomas Jefferson, and the terrorists were the Barbary pirates. Unfortunately, many of the easy lessons to be plucked from this experience have yet to be fully learned.

Read it all here.

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