Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Barbary Somali Pirates and Obama

So the Somali pirates have seized a ship flying the US flag, just as Obama returns from Turkey. Biden was right - pretty well everyone is trying to create a challenge for the newbie.
From Wikipedia:

On Jefferson's inauguration as president in 1801, Yussif Karamanli, the Pasha (or Bashaw) of Tripoli, demanded $225,000 from the new administration. (In 1800, Federal revenues totaled a little over $10 million.) Putting his long-held beliefs into practice, Jefferson refused the demand. Consequently, in May 1801, the Pasha declared war on the United States, not through any formal written documents but by cutting down the flagstaff in front of the U.S. Consulate. Algiers and Tunis soon followed their ally in Tripoli.

In response, Jefferson sent a group of frigates to defend American interests in the Mediterranean, and informed Congress. Although Congress never voted on a formal declaration of war, they did authorize the President to instruct the commanders of armed vessels of the United States to seize all vessels and goods of the Pasha of Tripoli "and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify."

No doubt Obama would prefer a more multi-lateral approach than Jefferson.
Maybe he will start by trying to talk nicely to the pirates, continuing his outreach to Islam, which, as I have pointed out, has influenced the development of the US as cited above. It would appear that at least some definition of executive authority was helped by earlier Islamic piracy.


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