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Is Obama Another Jefferson?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

This entire episode with pirates is just way to cool. Everyone can relate to this story because pirates have been a part of all our lives. Some of us grew up with Treasure Island and Long John Silver. Others envision Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates captivate Americans of all ages.

The coolness does not end there because the recent incident of the attempted taking of an America ship had thrills for everyone. First, you had the Captain, Richard Phillips, exchanging himself for the freedom of his crew. All Americans want to claim him as their own. The Republicans were thrilled as the Navy Seals took out the captor pirates – Bam, Bam, Bam – and freed the Captain. The Democrats loved that their man, Obama, stepped up to the plate and authorized the Navy to do what it had to do. So for now we are all experiencing a high from this episode and waiting for the inevitable books and movie to come out.

Unfortunately, this story does not end here. That is because this story does not begin here either. Everyone, even the current generation which is unsure that anything occurred prior to their births, knows we have had pirates around for a long time. Most everyone assumed that they were creatures of a time gone by. Mr. Obama can learn a lot from how President Jefferson dealt with this issue, but so far his administration may be heading down the wrong road.

Secretary Clinton has called for a conference of interested parties to discuss how to handle this issue. Mrs. Clinton needs to read up on American history. Our friends will not do what is necessary to protect their own interests because they have never done so in the past. Before President Jefferson defined the United States as different from our European friends, they spent centuries paying off the Barbary pirates.

The sole difference here concerns the coast of Africa from which the pirates are attacking ships. Our allies have allowed an estimated 260 people to be held hostage, an estimated 20 ships to be taken and hundreds of millions of tribute to be paid. The only thing we do not know is whether the pirates have made the hostages into slaves as they did two centuries ago.

President Jefferson, in what has historically become a significant act of foreign policy, stated possibly the most famous statements on pirates: “Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute.” Some say that the statement was not made by Jefferson nor was the statement regarding the Barbary Pirates. Even if Jefferson did not utter those words, his policy aligned with the sentiment. After the United States paid off the pirates for fifteen years, Jefferson said no more and sent the nascent Navy in to establish a rule of law and protect our commercial shipping.

This episode separated the United States foreign policy from that of the entirety of Europe. We were establishing this country in the New World as a new kind of operation. Just because things were done a certain way before did not mean we were going to follow suit.

The current administration has a mistaken fondness for European policies. They somehow feel that working with them will define this situation differently than what life was like during Jefferson’s time. It will not and President Obama needs to realize that; the sooner, the better.

President Obama needs to do what Jefferson did and go it alone, because they will not be following. The French may have some gunboats out on the ocean, but let’s see them provide 2,000 Marines to go ashore and root out the pirates from their lairs. The pirates need to be put out of business, but that is not going to happen without blowing up their bases.

This is a big test for Obama. The pirates have gotten out of hand and this episode needs to come to an end. President Obama will soon learn what Biden imagined he said to President Bush when the President said he was a leader: “Turn around Mr. President, no one is following.” Obama and his people can hold all the meetings they want, but they will turn around and they will be alone. He will be lucky if he can get the Europeans to stop paying the bribes. Leadership is doing the right thing even if it means no one is following.

Hopefully, Obama will emulate Jefferson, do the right thing, send in the Marines and rid the world of these parasites. We are a special country and hopefully our President will understand that. In the meantime, Johnny Depp needs to gear up Captain Jack Sparrow once more. America needs some more fun after a rough few months.

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