“How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? We dimly recall that Miguel de Cervantes was briefly in the galleys. But what of the people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland, all carried off by ‘corsair’ raiders in a single night?”

This kind of “hostage trading” and “ransom farming” was the young United States’ first encounter with the Middle East, writes Christopher Hitchens in City Journal. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in 1885 called upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London:

“When they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, America’s two foremost envoys were informed that ‘it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.’ (It is worth noting that the United played no part in the Crusades, or in the Catholic reconquista of Andalusia.)”  

Adams wanted to pay the tribute demanded of the Barbary states, but the tribute did nothing but grow until it became a significant portion of the fledgling nation’s GNP. Read Hitchens on the Barbary War. It’s a longish piece but worth it because this was a precursor to what is going on today.

So many parallels. I don’t think Nancy Pelosi would have approved of Thomas Jefferson’s actions.