To follow up my post on the Jefferson Today site, I thought I’d focus on the piracy discussion, which highlights the similarities between Jefferson’s Barbary Pirates and Obama’s recent pirate issue.
You can start with this nice comparison of the two events from Jim Sofka. He highlights the differences as well as the similarities between these two events and ends with a “what to do” section that I thought I’d post for you here:
President Obama’s Monday speech about the “scourge of piracy” and his standing order to use force to free American captives was borrowed straight from the Jeffersonian playbook. Jefferson’s solution was to treat anti-piracy as maritime counter-insurgency: using relatively light assets in constant small engagements against attackers and moving the battle to inshore staging areas and land bases. His goal was, as he put it, “to cut them to pieces piecemeal.” Today, this would mean a more active U.S. presence on the Somali coast, possible intervention in the coastal towns, and committing naval assets to the area indefinitely. But again, Obama has the lighter burden: the navies of the world powers—including China—are all in league against these pirates, and the burden can be shared. Public opinion, of course, is another matter. John Adams told Jefferson that Americans “Will not endure” a long war against pirates. This, alas, remains as pressing for our 44th president as for our third.
You can also see Jim speaking on this issue. History is always relevant to modern day events - it is nice when we can show that!