Thursday, February 12, 2009

Barbary Pirates

I highly recommend "The End Of Barbary Terror" by Fredrick Leiner. This book covers the second, and last, Barbary War. A while ago I read, "The Pirate Coast" by Richard Zacks about the First Barbary War in 1804-1805. The Barbary Wars have received renewed interest lately as a result of our dealings in the Middle East as well as the increase in piracy around the world. Both books give a fascinating account of how a very young nation makes its presence known on the world stage. During the first war, American was torn between military force and diplomacy (this meant continued payment of ransoms and bribes to the Barbary pirates). Both were utilized to the end the first war. For the second, American was coming off a victory (of sorts) over England in the war of 1812. We had a good but small navy and chose to use it against the continued misdeeds of the Algerian pirates. A navy squadron, under Stephen Decatur, sunk and captured several Algerian ships and made a show of force persuasive enough to get a treaty fully in America's advantage. The American's were so successful, England and other European countries formed an naval coalition to finish the job and end the Barbary reign forever. A lesson for today? Perhaps.

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