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Civis Americanus Sum
Wall Street Journal (paid subscribers only) ^ | July 3, 2002 | Review & Outlook

Posted on 07/03/2002 3:36:16 PM PDT by snopercod

Edited on 04/22/2004 11:46:45 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Americans normally don't look to British lords for inspiration on Independence Day. But this July Fourth, with our nation at war, a strong dose of Lord Palmerston may be just what the doctor ordered. For Palmerston understood something the State Department has yet to grasp: In a dangerous world, you want to make sure your passport counts for something.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: burnham; civisamericanasum; greece; lishaomin; lordpalmerston; pearl; rome; saudiarabia; usscole
Happy Independence Day, y'all!
1 posted on 07/03/2002 3:36:16 PM PDT by snopercod
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To: snopercod
I thought this looked familiar, and boy does it.

Note the publication date of 1996!

Civis Americana Sum:

A Solution to Terrorism

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, 09/06/96
(C) 1996, William A. Levinson

Permission is granted to reproduce this column, provided it is done without alteration, and references the original source, the author, this notice, and this Web page's URL.

2000 years ago, robbers ambushed a traveler. He took out a Roman passport (or whatever they used in those days) and said, "Civis Romana sum!" "I am a Roman citizen!" The attackers let him go immediately.

Today, some Americans carry fake foreign passports when traveling overseas. Terrorists who hijack ships or airplanes often demand the travelers' passports, and select the Americans for kidnapping or execution.

Why is modern America more vulnerable to terrorism than ancient Rome? We have weapons that can level cities, spy satellites that can read license plates, computers with fingerprint files, and forensic DNA analysis. The Romans had swords, spears, and eyewitness evidence. The Romans, however, had the right mindset. Their policy toward bandits, robbers, and the like was, "Oderint, dum metuant." "Let them hate, as long as they fear."

Non-Romans who murdered Romans were subject to crucifixion. There is a story that Julius Caesar opposed this torture, and ordered his soldiers to kill the malefactors humanely. He nonetheless hung the bodies on crosses, with placards describing their offenses, for all to see. Had the French language existed, Caesar might have said, "Pour encourager les autres," or, "To encourage (as an example for) the others." Would-be killers who saw the bodies quickly understood that it was unhealthy to murder Roman citizens.

Now consider the Achille Lauro hijacking. Several terrorists took over a cruise ship, killed a wheelchair-bound American citizen, Leon Klinghoffer, and threw his body overboard. The United States captured the terrorists by forcing their plane to land in Italy. An Italian court tried them, and gave them fifteen or twenty years.

A hundred years ago, any nation's warship could capture and prosecute pirates. There were no long civilian trials, appeals, or lenient prison terms with chances for parole or escape. There was a court martial, and, if the verdict was guilty, a prompt hanging.

We knew how to handle terrorism a long time ago, and we didn't have much trouble with it. The Barbary Pirates demanded tribute from the United States, and we sent Stephen Decateur after them. In 1904, a Moroccan radical named Raisuli kidnapped Pedicaris, an American citizen. Theodore Roosevelt demanded, "Pedicaris alive or Raisuli dead!" and got Pedicaris alive.

The United States can afford millions, or even billions, of dollars to pay informers. Terrorists cannot have a training camp if an informer might betray it to our missiles and bombers. A satellite can verify the target, in case the informer is a double agent who wants us to destroy an innocent village.

A terrorist leader cannot be effective if his closest associates can enrich themselves by killing him or, in a nation that has an extradition treaty with the United States, by betraying him to the police. Thomas More's Utopia recommended this tactic: since no one in the enemy organization can trust anyone else, the organization disintegrates.

The United Nations, and even some Americans, criticize Israel for invading Lebanon to attack terrorists. In 1916, Pancho Villa and his bandits raided American cities in Texas. Woodrow Wilson, a liberal Democrat by contemporary standards, ordered General Pershing to pursue Villa into Mexico. Today, we'd probably ask the UN for a General Assembly resolution, a peacekeeping force, and "safe areas" for Texans. And we wonder why they hijack or blow up our airplanes, and set off bombs in our cities.

Let's talk about bombs in cities. We need to remind terrorist governments that we can detonate bombs in their countries, wherever and whenever we want. I do not support retaliation against innocent civilians, but putting a cruise missile or smart bomb through the dictator's bedroom window is another matter. We should send Khadafy, Assad, and the Iranians videotapes of the smart bomb going down the ventilation shaft ("Use the Force, Luke!") during Desert Storm. Saddam, no doubt, remembers it.

Congress and the President are grandstanding as usual, and calling for antiterrorist legislation. We don't need new laws, we need to enforce the old ones. We don't need laws to make it illegal for American citizens to give money to terrorist organizations. Congress simply needs to treat the terrorists as foreign paramilitary organizations, and declare war on them. It is illegal for Americans to assist enemies of the United States.

Some terrorists claim to be soldiers whom we should treat as prisoners of war. Let's do exactly that. International law requires combatants to wear uniforms. Terrorists disguise themselves as civilians, which is a capital military crime. If they attack the United States while wearing uniforms, I agree that we should treat any survivors as POW's.

The United States should always seek respect, and not hate or fear. If, however, terrorists take this for weakness and irresolution, they must learn the full meaning of oderint, dum metuant. The next time they ask for passports, Americans must not be afraid to declare, "Civis Americana sum!"

2 posted on 07/03/2002 4:23:27 PM PDT by Fixit
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To: Fixit
Plus ca change, plus la meme chose .. French (without accents) for "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Lord Palmerston was right in his day, the writer in 1996 was right, and we've got to get the message and make this reality in 2002.

The State Department has got to get some backbone and start supporting American citizens abroad. It is true that they have, unfortunately, a backlog of Dem-types, since the State Department recruits at the Ivies. But, when you want to change a business, there's really only one person you have to change: the manager.

Their top manager may be okay, but on a day to day basis, whoever is running their operations should "get a new atttitude." Terrorists should quake in their boots at the thought of kidnapping or harming an American; and until they do, nobody, American or otherwise, is going to be safe.

3 posted on 07/03/2002 6:45:19 PM PDT by livius
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To: Fixit
Sorry to buck the emerging trend, but I'm not in favor of starting a "War of Jenkin's Ear" every time some ding-dong with a US passport puts him (or her) self in harm's way. Let no one attack a US citizen conducting legitimate business/tourism overseas, but missionaries, political activists, journalists, etc. who deliberately venture into troubled waters (and this includes those who marry sons of the desert) fall outside the responsibility and protection of our government.
4 posted on 07/03/2002 10:56:01 PM PDT by pawdoggie
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