Act II, Scene 1

History may not repeat, to paraphrase Mark Twain, but it rhymes.  By late 1793, the Barbary pirates had captured a dozen American ships, goods stripped and everyone enslaved.  American merchants needed an armed American presence to sail near Europe[1], and by 1801, President Jefferson, like Washington and Adams before him, was unable get Europe to join America in engaging the pirates, so he sent the Marines to stop the practice of having to pay tribute to the Muslims in lieu of their raiding American shipping for goods and slaves.  The Marines gained a phrase for their hymn (“ … to the shores of Tripoli”:) and a nickname (“Leathernecks”), and we were free of Islamic pirates for two centuries.

Last Wednesday, it happened again. Four armed terrorists boarded the Maersk Alabama, an American-flagged transport crewed by 21 Americans, with an eye toward holding the ship and crew for ransom.  After the crew regained control of the ship, and to prevent possible shooting, Captain Richard Phillips offered himself as a hostage, joining the terrorists in one of the Alabama’s life boats. The Aegis destroyer Bainbridge steamed around from the Gulf of Aden, deployed armed guards to assure the Alabama’s completion of its humanitarian mission to Kenya, and is watching the (out of fuel) boat as the situation develops.

Now we find out if Obama is Thomas Jefferson or Jimmy Carter.


[1] After some serious debate, the United States Navy was born in March 1794. Six frigates were authorized, and so began the construction of the United States, the Constellation, the Constitution and three other frigates.

8 thoughts on “Act II, Scene 1

  1. You don’t sleep any more that I do, do you?

    What the heck are you doing at 2:40AM?!

  2. Working my friend, always working [:)]

    I am happy to report that at 210 years old, “Old Ironsides” – The U.S.S. Constitution is still the oldest commissioned warship afloat. Only the HMS Victory is older; however she is permanently dry-docked in Portsmouth, England.

  3. I remember being on the flight deck of the Enterprise in Norflok when a replica of the Pinta was anchored next to her, and you could look DOWN on the mast-tops. I can’t imagine sailing the Atlantic on that little thing!

    I’ve not seen the Constitution, but would like to.

    Take care, my friend

  4. I agree. I’ll admit, I had my doubts about what we would do. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I think Obama is dangerously naive, as evidenced as his wishing America into Second-World status in Europe.

    Obama did the right thing.

  5. I’m late on this one. I would have bet Jimmy Carter at the time, but it turns out he did have the back bone to give the shoot order. There is a little bit of hope here.

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