“To the Shores of Tripoli…”

The ongoing attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea by the former terrorist organization known as the Houthis, who presently are the ruling group in Yemen, are “illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilizing,” in the words of the dozen nations who coalesced with the United States to launch a series of attacks against Houthi missile sites in Yemen last week.

The Houthis, who also have fired long-range rockets toward Israel and U.S. naval forces in the Red Sea, assert that their actions are in support of Hamas, the terrorists responsible for the slaughter, rape, and kidnapping of more than 1400 Israeli citizens on October 7.

Clearly, the Houthi attacks are part of an overall strategy by Iran, which has supplied weapons and funds for decades to the Houthis, Hamas, and Hezbollah, to cause as much death and destruction to Israel and its allies, with the stated goal of wiping Israel off the face of the map and killing every Jew they can find.

Some, both here and abroad, have criticized the United States and its allies for bombing the Houthi missile sites because it might lead to a widening of the ongoing war in the Middle East and draw the United States into the middle of the fight.

However, critics of U.S. policy are deluding themselves if they think that America somehow can remain above the fray, especially now that the Houthis are threatening the free flow of global commerce. U.S. history is instructive in this regard. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, what was then known as the Barbary coast nations of the Mediterranean — present-day Morocco, Libya, Algeria, and Tunis — plundered international shipping and enslaved thousands of their captives, including U.S. ships and citizens.

The United States Navy was established to respond to the blatant acts of nation-state piracy, culminating with an attack by the U.S. Marines, who burned the city of Tripoli in 1805 — hence the phrase in the opening line of the Marine Corps anthem, “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”

We realize that the circumstances between 1805 and today are vastly different, but the principle remains the same. More significantly, we must recognize that the world is being destabilized by an Axis of Evil consisting of Iran, Russia, and China. We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that they do not pose a threat to the Free World.

We must deal with the Houthis and their terrorist brethren to the full extent that we are able to do so. Anything less only will encourage them to go further.

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