Monday, April 13, 2009

Let the hand-wringing begin

Let's get one thing out of the way first. I didn't criticize Obama's handling of the Maersk Alabama piracy for the simple reason that there wasn't anything to criticize. Well, OK...side-stepping a reporter's question by saying he wanted to talk about housing when he could have issued a simple response indicating the situation had his attention was kinda dumb. But I thought the constant cries of "why isn't Obama doing anything?" during the hostage standoff were kinda dumb, too. The ship and crew were safe and absent an immediate threat to Capt. Phillips' life, there was no need to rush a rescue attempt. It's quite likely that our own military counseled against assaulting the enclosed lifeboat unless the situation detiorated. Obama did the right thing in leaving the decision to those on the scene and pre-approving the action they needed to take.

What's important now is how Obama follows through. The Somali piracy problem didn't end yesterday when our Navy rescued Phillips. In fact, it's likely to get worse.
The killing of three Somali pirates in the dramatic U.S. Navy rescue of a cargo ship captain has sparked concern for other hostages and fears that the stakes have been raised for future hijackings in the busy Indian Ocean shipping lane.

[ ... ]

It "could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question about it," said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
A couple things are almost certain. One is that with piracy being the linchpin to some local economies in Somalia, it's not going to stop just because of this episode. The second is that the piracies will become more violent.

Somalia is not just a failed state, it's a non-state. That became evident the other day when Somali "officials" blamed the US for the breakdown in negotiations on our insistence that the pirates be arrested and prosecuted. There's really nobody in control there and what little authority is exercised in Somalia is local and is owned by the warlords who employ the pirates.

That leaves the US and other nations with functioning naval forces in the region to make it too costly for the pirates to operate. Blockade the pirates' harbors by establishing an exclusion zone off the coast of Somalia. Primitive though they might be, the pirates have a functioning logistical support network that can be taken out with relative ease.

There is simply no reason to allow the pirates to continue to operate with impunity. What remains to be seen is whether Barack Obama has the resolve to do something about it or if he'll join the rest of the world in wringing his hands over it.

1 comment:

Ayrdale said...

...and of course the captured pirate will become a cause celebre, gain a green card and Hollywood stardom. Guaranteed.