Ottoman Algeria in Western diplomatic history with particular emphasis on relations with the united states of America, 1776-1816
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Recent western writings deploying analogies between ‘Barbary piracy’ and twentyfirst century ‘terrorism’ justify a reappraisal of diplomatic relations between the Ottoman regency of Algiers and the United States during the period 1776-1816. Since the 9/11 attacks, American historians have represented the ‘Barbary Wars’ as the direct forerunner of current ‘Muslim terrorism’. For the purpose, they transposed late 18th and early 19th centuries events into the 21st century; the result is an unsound equation in which the ‘terrorist’ of today is likened to the ‘pirate’ of yesterday and by reversal transposition, the Muslim corsair, already seen as a pirate, has been transformed into a terrorist. This study opted for rereading the same material on which current interpretations are built and reveals that, in many cases, documents pertaining to that period were either overlooked or were not published until recently, a fact which made this reappraisal possible. By reassessing relations between Algiers and the USA, this work replaces the issue of ‘piracy’ into its true historical context and discusses two major elements: the traditional clash between Islam and Christianity and persistence of enmity towards Algiers in American foreign policy although under a different guise. The analysis shows that allegations of Algerian aggressions against the USA were unfounded and elaborates a ‘Dey-pawn theory’ which shows how ‘power politics’ entangled Algiers in major powers rivalries and turned it into a scapegoat for Christianity. The work also investigates the amalgam between corsairing and piracy and considers that its attribution to Muslims solely denotes a renewal of medieval crusading because when America embarked on a gunboat diplomacy, it also contended that Muslim corsairing states legitimated maritime terror in the name of jihad. The thesis reconsiders America’s bullying past and unveils less idealistic agendas that were performed in total disregard of laws and usage of nations. The thesis concludes that Algerian seamen were not pirates but they were corsairs legitimated in their actions by the very western standards and that assertions about ‘Algerine piracy’ were fabrications that were meant for cloaking gunboat aggression in defensive disguise to promote American interests abroad.
- Doctorat langue Anglaise