Return of the Barbary Pirates?

A long time ago on the northern coast of a continent far away, the largely tribal and primitive inhabitants – were predominately Christian – this was the land in which St. Augustine was born and several important Church Councils were convened. All that changed in the 7th century, when hordes of Mohammedans swept out of Arabia, intent on carrying their jihad to the entire known world. They conquered all of North Africa, consigning its population to a hellish future of tribalism and internecine warfare in a societal structure that would remain locked in what we today call the Dark Ages.

No surprise then, that post-Gaddafi Libya is about to join Tunisia and Egypt on a short march to the year 700 as the specter of Sharia Law and Islamist government threatens to make a bad situation infinitely worse – not only for the people in those nations, but for the non-Islamic world.

Thus Reid Smith’s thoughts on this matter at the American Spectator:

In a contribution to CNN today, Gen. Michael Hayden, the retired USAF four-star general and former Director of both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, described the challenges facing a post-Gaddafi Libya in context of America’s recent military interventionism in the Arab world. As he knows better than most, collapsing the corrupt, illiberal, and illegitimate old regime is usually the easy part. State construction and the maturation of a robust civil society are considerably more problematic.

Make no mistake — whether behind the scenes or from the skies above — the resignation of Ben Ali in Tunisia, the collapse of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and the death of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya were, in part, orchestrated by the United States of America. Of course, as Hayden notes, there was more than “altruistic international good citizenship involved here.”

Now, all three “states” exist in a condition of political flux. In Tunisia, there are concerns about an Islamist advantage in the country’s fragile, young parliament. In Egypt, Mubarak’s “ancien régime” still holds the nation in a death grip, stifling democratic development and a constitutional renaissance. But Libya presents the most challenging security dilemma for the U.S. and its NATO allies. According to Hayden:

If Libya is left to its own devices, it is not difficult to conceive of it becoming Somalia on the Mediterranean, an ungoverned space threatening the heart of Europe as well as critical international lines of communication. We have already begun to fret over the loss of control of thousands of man-portable surface-to-air missiles. These are reasons enough to stay engaged.

Somalia on the Mediterranean? Good grief…it would be like winding the clock back over 200 years, when early 19th century precursors of today’s Islamic terrorists and Somali pirates preyed on our merchant shipping until President Thomas Jefferson decided that enough was enough and dispatched a fleet of our most powerful warships to the Med, where they succeeded in adjusting the attitude of the Muslim rulers who were bankrolling the pirates. For as long as we dispatched Muslim pirates and bombarded their operational bases – or threatened to do so -  our merchant shipping remained safe.

Fast forward to the year 1984, when President Ronald Reagan ordered a bombing sortie over Libya with the tacit understanding that Gaddafi’s compound would be targeted. For nearly two decades afterward, Moammar Gaddafi more or less behaved himself; shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Gaddafi surrendered his WMD.

Perhaps the time has come to revive this common sense option of self defense: kill or maim enough pirates – and Mohammedans – to make them think twice about screwing with us.

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