The US Navy's Long History with Libya

Friday, March 04, 2011

"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli." Those are the opening words to the official hymn of the United States Marine Corps. The Barbary Wars of 1801-1805 are an oft-forgotten part of American history. But those wars, fought to protect US ships from pirates along the coast of North Africa, were fundamental in the formation of the US Navy. For a look at the history of US military involvment with Libya, we're joined by David Smethurst, author of "Tripoli: The United States' First War on Terror."

Produced by:

Noel King and David Smethurst

Comments [2]

doreen Eccles from rochester, ny

I found the interview with David Smethurst very fascinating factual and well reasoned. I have read his book and found it to be factual, well researched and well written. The previous reviewer suggested interviewing someone about the history - well that is what the interview focused on - the history - I thought it was excellent. Buy the book and read for yourself.

Apr. 05 2011 11:51 AM
Matt Love from Ypsilanti, MI

It would be nice if you would have interviewed an author who would discuss the Barbary Coast history (not largely unknown as you suggested in your story, but almost universally distorted) as it actually happened, not the version that serves power. But that would be asking too much, you serve as the propaganda arm of the government, when you aren't peddling comforting falsehoods, you're making snarky, supposedly "funny" comments about official enemies (if you're lucky, one day you'll be old, what is the news value of saying stupid things about Gaddafi's age?)

At any rate, if you were in the business of informing people about reality, you might interview R. T. Naylor. But I know you aren't, and you won't.

Ghosts of terror wars past?
Crime, terror and America’s first clash with the Saracen Hordes
R. T. Naylor

In the wake of 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, then of Iraq, with all the talk of a renewed Clash of Civilizations, came a revival of interest in the lessons from what seemed to be the direct antecedent, namely the Barbary Wars of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. At that time, too, America had seemed to be forced to defend itself economically and militarily against a fanatical foe which rationalized crimes in the name of religion to wage terror against innocents. There are indeed close analogies between the two; but they are almost exactly the opposite of what much popular (and some official) belief holds true. If today it has become clear that most justifications for the current Terror War were fabrications intended to cloak other agendas at home and abroad, when the Barbary Wars are subjected to serious scrutiny, much the same forces advancing much the same agendas appear at work. Nor are the “politics of fear” new in American history. During the Barbary Wars, carefully cultivated fears of a rising Islamintern served to: divert public attention from domestic political problems; suppress political dissent; provide cover for regressive fiscal changes; cloak offensive militarism in defensive guise; and ride roughshod over both conventions of international diplomacy and normal standards of criminal justice, all rationalized by a sense of Christian mission.

Mar. 04 2011 10:21 AM

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