The Barbary States along the northern African shore harassed and captured European and American commerce ships involved with trading throughout the Mediterannean as long as America was born as a nation.

The Muslim deys (lords or princes, pronounced "dahi") demanded tribute or annuities from each nation that was within reach of their corsairs, even in the Atlantic.

The recently formed United States began to deal with this problem under President George Washington but mostly Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin were sent on fact-finding missions during his administration. They learned how European nations were dealing with the situation and met with the representatives from the Barbary states of Algiers, Tunis, Morocco, and Tripoli.

All the Europeans acquiesced to the demands for money, despite the unreliable stability of the agreements. The sum of the demands continued to rise well before the dates established in the treaties.

Jefferson soon determined that the negotiations, which were rarely honored by the Muslim states, were not the right option for America. America's initial $80,000 to Algiers was basically accepted and then, as he predicted, the agreement scoffed at as merchant crews and their cargo were seized and taken away. The crews were valued as slaves and the vessels and cargo were either utilized or sold off by the marauding states.

John Adams began his presidency preferring to throw money at the pirates as a measure to avoid war. His good friend Thomas Jefferson was elected as his vice-president. Jefferson didn't even run for office but ended up with the second-most ballots.

He soon became Adam's biggest critic, first in privacy but then publicly, insisting on the nation's need to build a navy to protect commerce and American sailors.

It was an issue that contributed to, along with several others, end this deep friendship and Adams found himself defeated by Jefferson in the next election.

The choice was clear: force the deys of the Barbary States to stand down from molesting American ships or suffer the consequences of destroyed ships and blockades of their ports.

The rest is history as the United States showed its might and the pirates eventually cowered from war with America. Our military actions even helped the European nations to stop paying the expensive tributes.

See that? Even then, we were doing the heavy lifting for Europe.

Today, we see ourselves in an eerily similar situation. We have a president who refuses to cower to barbaric acts committed on the people of our free nation while overseas.

We also have a large liberal population who has installed many powerful voices in government and in media who prefer to simply tolerate the tireless acts of violence and terrorism to avoid inflaming larger acts by the culprits, should we stand up to them. It is true they have the resources to escalate their atrocities. It is also true that they have powerful (but conditional) allies in Russia and China.

General Qasem Soleimani of Iran was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, not far from the U.S. Embassy which was attacked only two days earlier, and in which he was determined to have been the architect of the attack. Soleimani is known by the international community to have killed many thousands of Arabs, Persians, Jews, Europeans, and Americans.

He was the commander of the Islamic Republican Guard and the terrorist Quds Force under the Iranian military. He was no statesman, negotiator or diplomat. Again, he was a mass murder and a state-sponsored one. It is also foolish to presume he had already committed his last killing of Americans.

The Pentagon has acknowledged that he has for years been engaging in warfare against the United States and is responsible for some 603 caskets being sent back home to some 603 horrified and grieving American families.

Soleimani has executed mass murders of protesters and other political dissenters in Iran, Syria, and Iraq.

When he was killed in Iraq, he was under a UN Charter which made it illegal for him to travel outside of Iran.

Instead of Iran and the liberals in America ratcheting up the amount of aggression and violence for which we "need to tolerate to keep the peace," this administration has sent a clear message: the American people have taken enough violent and lethal abuse without retaliating.

The choice for violence lies with Iran, not the United States. Tehran knows exactly what this state-sponsored super-terrorist has done in their name. They've enjoyed an atmosphere of reluctant action by an America, which is justifiably war-fatigued, but whose current leader has shown that the limit of harassment has been met.

The America that pays tribute through pallets of cash in the shadow of night is out of business. The America that builds a military to confront malignancies such as the actions of General Soleimani is in control.

Iran may be angry and indignant that America has shocked them in front of the world by taking out their Heinrich Himmler, but they know damn well how they would react had an enemy done to them what they have been doing to America.

For those of you Americans parroting the thoughts and outrage coming from Tehran, shame on you. In my opinion, you are acting as an American disgrace and nothing more.

But hey, maybe that is a badge of courage for some of you.

Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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