To the Shores of Tripoli, et al,et al

5 Apr

With amazing regularity we have begun each new century of our existence as a nation by warring with Muslims. At the start of the nineteenth century, the fledgling United States, still unable to pay the debts incurred during the Revolutionary War, equipped a small fleet, manned by marines, to do battle with Barbary Pirates operating from North Africa. This was our first overseas military venture but would, of course, not be the last. The results were inconclusive but served to impress old Europe that the new kid was a player and to show the flag around.

It took another couple of decades to rout these bandits from those waters where they had preyed on shipping for years. Routed they were but it cost us dearly. It was not until 1815 that our involvement ended; the due bill showed up in 1819 with our very first Money Panic. The banks stopped lending to pay off war debts, the Louisiana acquisition and to get the international bankers off our backs. Starting to sound familiar?

Of course throughout the nineteenth century we had lots of wars with all kinds of people but right on schedule, at the turn of the Twentieth Century, we’re back fighting Muslims again. This time it was the Moros. For a scary film depicting, not very accurately, and with typical Hollywood slanting of the bad guys as ‘others’ and therefore, demonic, see “The Real Glory”. Gary Cooper, David Niven and Broderick Crawford star.

The Moros, who are Muslim and live in the southernmost islands of the Philippines, resisted the American occupation of their homeland. The U.S. Army tried out a new tactic of training native Filipinos to take over the burden of putting down the insurrection so the Army could withdraw. These surrogates, of course, were Christian and had little in common with the Moros. Does that sound familiar? In the course of the film, the Moro leader Alipang is captured. In order to break his will and cause him to suffer for his effrontery, the Troopers forcibly wrap Alipang in the skin of a slaughtered pig. This is a grievous insult to a Muslim and perhaps anticipates Gitmo and Abu Ghraib behavior. Nearly 100 thousand men, women and children were slaughtered in the Moro fracas; which falls just short of war crime numbers.

Thus began a new Century which featured wars with just about everybody on the planet. We all know the history of the late, lamented, 20th Century with a total of about a quarter billion casualties to its discredit.

That speeds us to a new marker, Y2K, The Age of Aquarius, Century of Hope, the beginning of the great 21st Century. Okay, we’re at it again with the Muslims. Now its Af-Pak-Men-istan that has our attention. The scenario is the same. We send in the troops and then attempt to train surrogates to do the clean up work but always pick the least likely candidates for the job.

If we somehow manage to survive until 2100, which seems highly improbable these days, and someone will stake us the cost of another war, odds are it will be with Muslims. It’s our heritage.


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