“This Government Wants Perdicaris Alive or Raisuli Dead”

By | May 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

History is a vast early-warning system. – Norman Cousins

In 1904, a century ago, a man named Ion Perdicaris, together with his stepson, was kidnapped from Tangier, Morocco by a Berber tribal leader named Mulai Ahmed er-Raisuli. Raisuli’s motive was to extort money and concessions from the sultan of Morocco.

Perdicaris’ father was a Greek who became an American citizen and later a consul. Perdicaris himself was born in the United States, so it was assumed he was an American citizen. Later it appeared that he had obtained a Greek passport, but by that time his release had become an international incident.
Not coincidentally, Theodore Roosevelt was seeking another term as president. His secretary of State, John Hay, brought the Republican National Convention to its feet by reading a telegram from President Roosevelt:

This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.

Roosevelt sent warships to Tangier harbor, and a small detachment of Marines was landed. Eventually Perdicaris was released, and Teddy was elected to a second term. Mr. Perdicaris moved to London, lived out his life, and died at the age of 85. A highly fictionalized – but highly enjoyable – version of this affair was presented in the film “The Wind and the Lion,” with Sean Connery as Raisuli and John Houston as John Hay.

What can we learn from this event? In view of the fact that 110 years have passed, can we learn anything? I believe we can. First of all, we learn that a president often becomes more popular when he projects an image of strength. In particular, people like to see that if an American citizen gets into trouble abroad, our government will stand up for him or her. This obvious fact seems to be beyond the capacity of the Obama administration. Perhaps these people were warned as kids, “I don’t care who started it – you’re both going to the principal’s office.” Perhaps they never learned how to handle bullies.

But this isn’t 1904. To cross the oceans, we no longer travel on coal-burning ships, but on supersonic jets. We no longer can rely on the oceans to protect us, but are subject to missiles that can cross them in minutes. The worst we can expect is not a 12-inch naval shell, but a nuclear bomb or a release of MERS or Ebola virus. The opponents we face are not isolated brigands seeking ransom, but organized fanatics seeking blood.

No, this is not the time for unbridled nationalism. But is it the time for no nationalism at all? This is not the time for saber-rattling. But is it the time for no threat of reprisal at all? This is not the time for speaking softly but carrying a big stick. Oh, wait, maybe it still is. Maybe some things never go out of style, because technology may change, but human nature does not. Maybe we can still learn something from Teddy Roosevelt about handling bullies.

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, USMCR.

Sgt. Tahmooressi was just sent an order to report for further training. However, he is unable to comply. He currently resides in a Mexican prison, where he is likely to remain for many months. But if he does not report, he may be given a dishonorable discharge, making him ineligible for Veterans Affairs health care. Have a nice day.

The reason Sgt. Tahmooressi is in prison is that he made a wrong turn exiting a parking lot. He left his car in the lot at the end of Interstate 5, then walked over the border to visit Tijuana for a day. That evening, he returned to his car and planned to drive back to San Diego. I have parked in that lot and can attest to the problem he had.

 

When I exited the lot, I wanted to go left – north – back to San Diego. But it was still daylight, and I saw this sign, so I counter-intuitively turned right, looped around, and went in my intended direction. But when Sgt. Tahmooressi exited the lot, it was already dark, the sign was not illuminated, and the “No USA return” section was partially covered with graffiti. So he intuitively turned left and found himself at the Mexican border – with no way to turn around.

Who laid out this mess – the Three Stooges? At the very least, the sign should be larger, illuminated at night, and high enough that it would be difficult to paint over with graffiti. And there should be a U-turn lane on Interstate 5 just before the border. How many others were caught in the same dilemma as Sgt. Tahmooressi?

When he arrived at the border crossing, he told the Mexican customs agents that he wanted to return to the USA, and that he had three legally owned guns in his trunk. After prolonged discussion, the Mexicans denied his request, arrested him for gun possession – which is illegal in Mexico – and took him to jail. He was not charged with smuggling, because he told the agents there were guns in the trunk. But he still may spend many months in jail awaiting trial, and then be tried by a judge without a jury, and wind up in prison for years.

Any fool would understand that Sgt, Tahmooressi committed no crime, and should have been allowed to turn around. Any fool would comprehend that if Mexican authorities did not allow this, American authorities – up to the president – should demand that they do so.

Sgt. Tahmooressi served two tours in Afghanistan and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He received a battlefield promotion to sergeant while serving as the .50 caliber machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee. President Obama owes him. Secretary of State Kerry owes him. We all owe him. The question is: What are we all going to do about it?

If we can’t stand up for a combat Marine who made a wrong turn and faces years in a Mexican prison, in what sense are we still a nation, and not just a place we happen to be living at the moment? In what sense are we a people, and not just a mob, each with his own agenda?

Sign the petition to ask President Obama to intervene.  It won’t be easy; I was unable to sign into the government system. (ObamaCare, anyone?) Phone or e-mail your senator and representative. It’s the least you can do – literally.

Mariam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag.

Mariam is a 27-year-old woman who is eight months pregnant with her second child. She is in a Sudanese prison, sentenced to 100 lashes followed by hanging. The sentence will be delayed until she gives birth. The Sudanese woman’s father was Muslim and her mother was Christian. Under Sharia law, this makes her a Muslim, even though the father abandoned the family, and her mother raised her as a Christian – the only religion she ever practiced.

Mariam married another Christian, Daniel Wani, who is a naturalized American citizen. That makes her eligible for American citizenship whenever the bureaucrats get around to it. But it also makes their 20-month-old son, and their soon-to-be born child, American citizens now. Nevertheless both the toddler and the unborn child remain in the Sudanese prison.

Under Sudan’s interpretation of Sharia, Mariam is a Muslim, so marrying a Christian was “adultery” – hence the 100 lashes. And becoming a Christian after being a Muslim – which she never was – is subject to the death penalty. In short, we have a Christian who is to be hanged for refusing to renounce her faith. And we have two children who will never see their mother again – or their father, because he is a Christian and they must be raised Muslim.

The British Foreign Office raised a strong protest, as did the U.N. Our State Department declared itself “deeply disturbed.” No! I am deeply disturbed by the low quality of recent movies. But if someone for whom I am responsible were unjustly imprisoned and sentenced to be hanged, I would be furiously angry.

And I would do something about it without delay. I would declare that Mariam is an American citizen, as are her toddler and soon-to-be-born child. I would grant them political asylum and a free plane ride to America. I would offer Sudan, quietly, an increase in foreign aid. But if I were rebuffed, I would immediately cut off all aid, close our embassy, and suspend all air travel to or from Sudan.

And if that didn’t work, I would privately hint that the judge who sentenced Mariam to death, and the government officials who approved, should look upward frequently. Who knows? They might catch sight of the drone before it lets loose the appropriately named Hellfire missile.

No, this isn’t 1904. It is 2014. This is not the time for unrestrained nationalism. But neither is it the time to adopt a supine posture in the presence of bullies. Otherwise, inevitably there will be more bullies and more victims – and many of those victims will be Americans.

Although 110 years have passed, we can still learn something from Teddy Roosevelt. We must regain our self-confidence, and let the world’s bullies know that if they mess with American citizens, they will pay a heavy price.

Our objective is simple: We want Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, and Mrs. Mariam Ibrahim Wani and her whole family, to end up like Ion Perdicaris – dying at home, in their own beds, surrounded by loved ones, at an advanced age, in freedom.

Perdicaris alive, or Raisuli dead. Way to go, Teddy!

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.
www.stolinsky.com

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