Friday, August 10, 2007

Forgotten History

Not everyone is current on the history of the US Marine Corps, but some may know where the shores of Tripoli are located, if not the halls of Montezuma. Do many know of the reason why the US went to the shores of Tripoli in the first place?

Rather obscure, the Tripolitan War, but it was fought to put an end to piracy and ransom kidnapping by North African Arabs. The newly born United States paid its 'street tax' for years, until the cost of protection became outrageous, and Stephen Decatur was sent oversees to open up a can of Old Ironsides whoop-ass on a port that is now part of Libya. He secured the release of some American sailors, or at least those who had somehow managed to survive the brutal conditions in prison, and that pretty much ended the kidnappings and ransom demands.

Today's Libya is, oddly enough, not all that different from the way it was back then. Almost nine years ago, five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian-born doctor were kidnapped, in a way, when they were accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with AIDS. The charge was beyond ridiculous, but the group was shut up in a Libyan prison and routinely tortured, raped and threatened with execution.

The six victims of Tripolitan piracy were released recently, and by some remarkable coincidence, a charity that had been set up to compensate the infected children was $400 million richer. And the EU was offering all sorts of economic and political incentives to Libya. Back home in Bulgaria, the nurses will face a lifetime of psychiatric care to help them cope with their treatment in a Libyan prison, while the Palestinian doctor can ponder over his abandonment by his fellow Arabs.

The Mafia has made a fortune from protection money, and Moammar Gadhafi has relied on this tried and true technique to extract concessions out of Europe. It worked brilliantly two hundred years ago, and it has worked again. He will continue to use the technique until someone recalls history, and opens up another can of whoop-ass.

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