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225 years of jihad against the U.S.

Posted by Richard on February 15, 2008

Practically since 9/12/01, people ranging from libertarians to moderate liberals to barking moonbats have argued that some Muslims wish to harm us because of our 50 years of interventionism in the Middle East. Anyone who actually bothered to learn about al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations soon realized that was nonsense. Nonetheless, this "grievance" theory remains quite popular.

An outstanding article by Melvin E. Lee in the latest Middle East Quarterly not only affirmed my thinking on this subject, but provided a wealth of historical infomation (heavily footnoted) that was new to me.

I studied U.S. history before most of the factual content was removed from the texts, so I knew a bit about the acts of piracy that began in the 1780s and eventually led to the Barbary Wars. But I had no idea that these "pirates" were actually the first jihadis to attack the United States, and that they made their goals as clear then as their successors do today: 

What Americans and Europeans saw as piracy, Barbary leaders justified as legitimate jihad. Jefferson related a conversation he had in Paris with Ambassador Abdrahaman of Tripoli who told him that all Christians are sinners in the context of the Qur'an and that it was a Muslim's "right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners."[11] Islam gave great incentive to fighting infidels, Abdrahaman explained, because the Qur'an promised that making war against infidels ensured a Muslim paradise after death.[12] Richard O'Brien, the imprisoned captain of the Philadelphia merchantman Dauphin and later the U.S. consul to Algiers, related similar conversations with ‘Ali Hasan, the ruler of Algiers.[13] Ottoman leaders used the same rationale to justify the enslavement and trading of captives from the Balkans, Caucasus, and Ukraine.[14]

The role that jihadi ideology played in the Barbary wars is documented with explicit references to jihad and holy war in the treaties that U.S. officials entered into with Muslim rulers. Tunis and Algiers, as the western outposts of the Ottoman Empire, even described themselves to American envoys as the "frontier posts of jihad against European Christianity."[15]

Even back then, Americans wouldn't take the Muslim rulers at their word, and tried hard to promote the Rodney King philosophy: "Can't we all just get along?"  

U.S. officials took a conciliatory attitude. Realizing that the North Africans were hypersensitive to the historic conflict between Islam and European Christianity, especially in the context of the expulsion of the Moors from Spain, U.S. officials bent over backwards to deny the religious and ideological nature of the conflict, especially to the Muslims themselves. They realized that religious conflict might jeopardize the commerce that the United States still hoped to find in the Mediterranean. In 1821, President John Quincy Adams was barely able to resist assisting the Greeks in their war of independence when both the American and European publics urged war with the Ottoman Empire.[16] The founders possessed a deep conviction for religious tolerance and proudly explained in the short-lived 1797 treaty with Tripoli that the U.S. was not a Christian state at all but rather one which had no official religion and maintained laws forbidding the prohibition of religion.[17] Perhaps their denial of the religious and ideological nature of the conflict foreshadowed the attitude many Washington policymakers adopt today. Then as now, it has become the basis of a fundamental misunderstanding of the root of the conflict.

From these 18th- and early-19th-century roots, Lee traces the history of relations between the U.S. and the Muslim Middle East to the present day. This essay is an eye-opener and simply a must read for anyone who wishes to think or talk intelligently about this issue. Highly recommended. 

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5 Responses to “225 years of jihad against the U.S.”

  1. T F Stern said

    Thanks for some valuable information and insight.

  2. Mortimer Snurd said

    Well, I’m glad to see you’re back in the saddle. Hadn’t seen you post for a while and I had been worried.

    As for Big Fred, I really don’t think his heart was in a presidential race. If it was, he wouldn’t have let that fluff-headed pole-dancer run his campaign.

    BTW, Robby the Robot, THE Robby the Robot, is for sale on eBay. Something no SciFi home should be without.

    Keep ’em flying.

  3. mothanskin said

    Apreciate the link, RG! I didn’t realize how much the Jihadists hate Democracy. I am really going to think about this insight and information!

  4. rgcombs said

    Thanks, guys! I appreciate the kind words, and I’m sorry for the long hiatus. Things were kind of crazy at work for a while, plus other distractions and a nasty virus. This year’s flu shot seems to have been a bit off target.

    Robby the Robot? Looks like it’s this Robby the Robot, the “museum-quality replica.” The Barton site doesn’t disclose a price (you have to call or email Fred), so I don’t know if 8 grand for a beat-up one is a good price or not. Think I’ll pass. I’d rather have Gort.

  5. Truth Sayer said

    This is a useless article that only tries to create an enemy for us now using something that happened a long time ago. Pure garbage. This just adds fire to the flames of war. Pure neocon spin. Don’t buy into this type of argument or you’ll be fighting wars forever.

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