a formidable code of honor, and was militarily and tactically superior to a number of Chinese and European naval commanders

http://www.badassoftheweek.com/chingshih.html

http://www.badassoftheweek.com/chingshih.html“Ching Shih assembled and ran one of the most formidable pirate armadas the world has ever seen. Her forces wreaked havoc not only among the merchant shipping population, but were also incredibly successful at going toe-to-toe with the Chinese Navy in large-scale sea battles. She was tough, well-respected, had a formidable code of honor, and was militarily and tactically superior to a number of Chinese and European naval commanders. And best of all, she was able to get away with everything, keep all of her loot and avoid suffering the indignity of a death by hanging.” – (via @AnonChingShih)

pirates mock the notion that the U.S. is a superpower

Above all, the pirates mock the notion that the U.S. is a superpower, as a bunch of young men, riding tiny boats, lightly armed, seem unstoppable.

All we need to do is declare that for ships on the high sea, a 300-yard radius around the vessels is a limited access zone. Anybody closing in farther without permission will be assumed to be hostile. (source)

and a little on the First Barbary War

In 1795 Algeria came to an agreement with the United States that resulted in the release of 115 sailors they held, at the cost of over $1 million. This amount totaled about one sixth of the entire United States budget,[8] and this amount was demanded as tribute by the Barbary States to prevent further piracy. The continuing demand for tribute ultimately led to the formation of the United States Department of the Navy, founded in 1798[9] in order to prevent further piracy attacks upon American shipping as well as to end the extremely large demand for tribute from the Barbary States.

What changed?