Overview

In 1805, the U.S. Marines—led by Lt. Presley O’Bannon—marched across the desert from Egypt to free U.S. hostages being held by Barbary Coast pirates in Tripoli, Libya, in what is known as the Battle of Derna. Again, in 1815, a fleet of five U.S. frigates was sent to tame the Barbary Muslim pirates to affect the return of U.S. captives and to exact significant monetary compensation for their efforts. And the Battle of Chapultepec, during the 1846–1848 Mexican-American War, was dubbed “the Halls of Montezuma.” This led to the famous but chronologically inverted lines in the “Marines’ Hymn” “from the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”

Another quotation related to the Barbary Coast excursions was “Millions for defense, but not a cent [penny] in tribute.” It was originally made by Robert Goodloe Harper, a U.S. senator, in 1816 in response to the above two prior Barbary Coast pirate excursions by the USA, meaning that the USA would spend whatever was necessary to protect our assets but would never pay a blackmailer’s ransom. This quote was picked up most famously by Pres. Thomas Jefferson, to whom most incorrectly credit it. However, the prior quotation—“From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli”—became the now-famous “Marines’ Hymn.”

The latter quotation, “Millions in defense, but not a cent in tribute,” became the de facto foreign policy of the USA and is today commonly understood worldwide by all, friends and enemies alike.

In today’s world, this U.S. policy is interpreted as the fact that the United States will do whatever is necessary to see to the safety and security of the U.S. military, diplomats, public employees, and assets and will not negotiate with anyone, terrorist or others, regarding them. With respect to protecting the individual citizen, a VIP, or the industry of the United States, this current policy falls woefully short. Protests, complaints, or strongly worded intergovernmental messages are the more usual response.

Accordingly, the framework of this book and others to follow is based on the suggested extension of this policy—acting against states, terrorists, or others who foster, promote, or give solace to those who will act against our people, our industries, and our assets. Such action will be like “an eye for an eye” and will be limited to the recovery of people, removal of threats, and restoration of the asset affected but not include the more tortuous exaction of the recovery of monetary compensation for the efforts required. All this is more in keeping with the current actions of the USA vis-à-vis the war on terrorism. This clarified interpretation based on that original quotation “Millions in defense, but not a cent in tribute” is clearly “in the national interest,” the title of this book.

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