The Barbary Wars, of which there are two, began in 1801. In these battles between the United States and its allies, including Sweden and the Kingdom of Sicily, against the Barbary states (four nations in North Africa), the U.S. government sent a precedent of protecting American businesses against negotiating with or paying ransom to terrorists.
This week, the Biden Administration changed that 220-year policy and encouraged the Colonial Pipeline to pay a ransom to the Russian hackers who took the pipeline offline and subsequently caused a catastrophic gasoline shortage on the East Coast.
The Barbary Wars were predicated by Muslim pirates attacking American merchant ships and holding its sailors for ransom. Other American ships in the Mediterranean that weren’t taken hostage were still demanded to pay tribute for free passage. Upon becoming president in 1801, Thomas Jefferson sent the U.S. Navy to bombard the coasts of the pirate nations to liberate hostages rather than negotiate with the terrorists.
At first, however, Congress decided to bribe the pirates with 80 thousand dollars to be left alone in 1784. This created only a pseudo-peace until 1795 because only some of the Barbary pirates honored their word and stopped their aggression. But ultimately, when Jefferson was inaugurated, he would stop that policy and introduce a war-only approach to terrorism conducted against American merchants. After explaining that his policy would be war, Captain Bainbridge, the Navy Commander sent by Jefferson to end the piracy, said famously, “I hope I shall never again be sent to Algiers with tribute unless I am authorized to deliver it from the mouth of our cannon.”
The second Barbary War came about after the end of the war with the British in 1812, who had convinced the Barbary pirates to again attack American merchant ships to keep the United States preoccupied and distracted. When the attacks didn’t stop after the war ended, President James Madison picked up the strategy initially laid down by Jefferson, and sent the U.S. Marines to invade Tripoli. The skirmish ended with piracy ending for more than a century (sensing the weakness of U.S. President Barack Obama, Lybia – a Barbary nation – again began to engage in terrorism against the United States).
Since the Barbary Wars, the United States federal government has perceived its role to protect American businesses from international terrorist organizations. The slogan of the Federalist Party, after Jefferson and Madison’s invasions of the Barbary nations, became, “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.”
However, with the latest revelations regarding Russian terrorists shutting down America’s oil pipeline, the slogan of the Biden Administration seems to be, “Millions for tribute, but not one cent for defense.“
This principle, of non-negotiation with terrorists, was largely unstated throughout the period of 1801 to 1973, when Nixon implemented the policy as a matter of executive order. He had broken this rule briefly in 1972, when he negotiated for the release of hostages held by Palestinian terrorists. When a similar incident occurred in 1973, Nixon realized that paying ransoms would only lead to more ransoms being demanded. Following September 11, George W. Bush codified it further with National Security Presidential Directive no. 12, forbidding negotiation with terrorists officially.
And while there have been isolated incidents of terrorists exacting ransoms from U.S. Citizens over the last century, almost all were discouraged by the U.S. State Department from paying those ransoms, lest it lead to more of the same terrorism.
Today, it has been revealed that after Biden’s week of inaction on the Russian terrorism, refusing to lift a single finger to help the American business or its millions of fuel consumers, Colonial had no choice but to step back into a time machine before 1801 and write their terrorist overlords a cryptocurrency check for 5 million dollars.
The Montana Daily Gazette reported yesterday that the Biden Administration told the press that whether or not Colonial paid the ransom was their decision, and not Biden’s problem. Getting the hint, Colonial paid their ransom.
According to Bloomberg, “The company paid the hefty ransom in difficult-to-trace cryptocurrency within hours after the attack, underscoring the immense pressure faced by the Georgia-based operator to get gasoline and jet fuel flowing again to major cities along the Eastern Seaboard, those people said. A third person familiar with the situation said U.S. government officials are aware that Colonial made the payment.”
At first, the company said that it would not negotiate with the Russian terrorists. But the comments of Biden’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technologies, Anne Neuberger, seemed to have pushed them to comply with the Russians.
Americans need to take note. Russian terrorists are capable of hacking our energy infrastructure. Biden chose to do nothing, and their demands were met by Colonial Pipeline, being left with no choice if they are to stave off mass starvation on the East Coast. Terrorists now have all the incentive they need to keep doing it.