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Friday, 04 December, 2020

The Shores of Tripoli

Date: 20 October, 2000

By: Chief

Image'm sure most of us know where that line came from. The Marine Corps hymn. "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli." Though, from a purely chronological standpoint, it should be "The shores of Tripoli to the halls of Montezuma." And that, believe it or not, is quite important. Our Marines were on the shores of Tripoli in the year 1804. Why? In short the Bashaw of Tripoli was committing acts of piracy against U.S. flagged ships. Capturing and holding the ship and crew until and unless our government paid the extortion money to the Bashaw. The Marines, under the command of one Lt. Presley O'Bannon, attacked, won and over threw the Bashaw. He was replaced by his younger brother, Hamet. Hamet in turn, signed a peace treaty with the United States.

Now, fast forward to October 12, 2000 and the USS Cole. While mooring to a refueling pier in Aden, Yemen, the Cole was attacked. Attacked by persons unknown in a small boat carrying explosives. We all know the result. Dead Americans and a wounded ship.

196 years have passed since we stormed Tripoli. Yet nothing has changed. The attack on USS Cole is evidence of that. While we call it 'terrorism', is it not the same as piracy or extortion? Does not the threat of piracy and imprisonment strike the exact same tenor in the hearts of people as does terrorism? I submit the two are synonymous.

The difference between the actions of Lt. Presley O'Bannon and what happened to USS Cole is singular. O'Bannon and the U.S. ships in support were deployed to Tripoli to bring the practice of piracy to a halt. They succeeded. USS Cole, on the other hand, was ordered to Aden to 'show the flag' and got blown up. They failed. It is as simple, though callous, as that.

When one thinks about it, there was absolutely no reason for USS Cole to be where it was. None at all. Was Cole protecting sea lines of communication? No. We haven't had any merchant ships sunk or pirated since 1975 when the SS Mayaguez was pirated off of Cambodia. In other words, commerce is moving along just fine. To put it another way, how was having USS Cole pull into to a foreign port, in a country known for its ties with Iraq, during the midst of civil strife within the region, in the interests of the United States? Once again the answer is the same. No reason. None at all.

So, why was USS Cole in Aden? Other than to play the part of sitting duck, it was and is a vain attempt to get two enemies to play nice. The Arabs and the Israelis — two groups of people that have hated each other's guts for over 2,500 years. Further, they each have been fighting brother against brother. For remember, the Arabs were, initially, part of the twelve tribes of Israel. Which brings a whole new meaning to the term — family feud. A few examples of this dysfunctional family are:

"There are two different approaches in the Arab world: that Israel can be overwhelmed militarily, or that a military victory is impossible. The power struggle between Israel and the Arabs is a long-term historical trial. Victory or defeat are for us questions of existence or annihilation, the outcome of an irreconcilable hatred." (Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, July 11, 1986)

"In the name of Allah, we shall cause fire to devour half of Israel. ..." (Iraqi News Agency, April 2, 1990)

"The struggle with the Zionist enemy is not a struggle about Israel's borders, but about Israel's existence. We will never agree to anything less than the return of all our land and the establishment of the independent state." (Bassam Abu Sharif, a top Arafat aide and PLO spokesman, quoted by the Kuwait News Agency, May 31, 1986)

And finally, this jewel:

"The hands of the U.S. are fully stained with the blood of the Palestinians," Khamenei told hundreds of thousands of Iranians in his Dec. 31 prayer sermon at Tehran University. There is only one possible solution to unrest in the Middle East, he said — "namely, the annihilation and destruction of the Zionist state." (Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, December 31, 1999)

Now, I've been wrong on a number of occasions before, however none of those quotes sound anything like a letter of friendship, let alone a love letter.

There shall be no peace, no real lasting peace, in the middle east until all the players have truly decided that enough is enough. With the current battle having lasted for over 2,500 years and no end in sight it is a deadly folly to think an 'outsider' can bring all the factions to the conference table and work out a viable solution in a matter of days.

In short, We the People have allowed our government to become involved in business that is — none of our business. We chose sides in a 'domestic dispute'. Because of this citizens have been placed in danger when traveling. Aircraft have been hijacked and destroyed. Citizens have been held prisoner or murdered. Now, 17 members of the crew of the USS Cole are dead and 39 are wounded.

Yes a policy of non-intervention does hold dangers. A policy of interference and intervention holds dangers as well. Consider Korea. Consider Vietnam. Both caused by interference and intervention. Korea ended as a draw although, technically, we are still at war with the North. Vietnam we flat out lost. There are others as well. Theodore Roosevelt said it best, 'speak softly but carry a big stick'. We may want to re-look at that simple but viable non-intervention policy. We will trade with you, but fight your own battles. You know them better than we. Mess with us however and we will flatten you.

I believe We the People need to let it be known far and wide — no more. We the People shall not tolerate our government meddling in the affairs of other countries. That is their business ... not ours. At the same time, We the People need to let it be known far and wide — we won't interfere, but if you attack one of us, you have attacked us all. The consequences of that, to be sure, are dire.

We the People have long memories and an even longer reach. Don't tread on us.

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