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As laid out by Fred C. Iklé in today’s WaPo, based on the international right of self-defense,
It is naive to assume that the millions paid annually in ransom to pirates merely enables them to purchase villas and fancy automobiles. Somalia is a country without government, where anarchy is being exploited by terrorist organizations. Although the threat that pirates pose to commercial ships is increasingly known, little is being done to combat it. And we must consider the bigger picture: Terrorists are far more brutal than pirates and can easily force pirates — petty thieves in comparison — to share their ransom money.
We already know that Somalia is an ideal fortress and headquarters for global terrorist activity. The United States has learned the painful lesson that Somalia is not an easy place for our military to establish law and order; two of our interventions there became embarrassing defeats — in 1993 and more recently in support of Ethiopian forces.
So why do we keep rewarding Somali pirates? How is this march of folly possible?
Start by blaming the timorous lawyers who advise the governments attempting to cope with the pirates such as those who had been engaged in a standoff with U.S. hostage negotiators in recent days. These lawyers misinterpret the Law of the Sea Treaty and the Geneva Conventions and fail to apply the powerful international laws that exist against piracy. The right of self-defense — a principle of international law — justifies killing pirates as they try to board a ship.
The international right of self-defense would also justify an inspection and quarantine regime off the coast of Somalia to seize and destroy all vessels that are found to be engaged in piracy. These inspections could reduce the likelihood that any government will find itself engaged in a hostage situation such as the one that played out in recent days. Furthermore, the U.N. Security Council should prohibit all ransom payments. If the crew of an attacked ship were held hostage, the Security Council could authorize a military blockade of Somalia until the hostages were released.
Sadly, the UN Security Council won’t do such thing.
Law professor Eric Posner looks at the piracy question,
In the meantime, governments will have to employ an unsatisfactory combination of carrots and sticks—mounting expensive patrols that spot and pick off pirates on occasion, while paying ransoms to those pirates who succeed.
Dave Schuler, however, sees seven options.
The problem will continue, and will likely get worse.
Phyllis Chesler looks at the cpnflicting narratives of our times.
Just got home to find good news,
Captain jumps overboard, SEALs shoot pirates
The American captain of a cargo ship held hostage by pirates jumped overboard from the lifeboat where he was being held, and U.S. Navy SEALs shot and killed three of his four captors, according to a senior U.S. official with knowledge of the situation.
Capt. Richard Phillips was helped out of the water off the Somali coast and is uninjured and in good condition, the official said. He was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, a nearby naval warship.
Princeton neighbor TigerHawk points out that
Captain Phillips is now resting on the U.S.S. Bainbridge, named for Commodore William Bainbridge. Not only was Commodore Bainbridge born right here in Princeton, New Jersey, but he fought the Barbary Pirates and was imprisoned by them for 2 1/2 years until freed after William Eaton’s expedition to “the shores of Tripoli.”
There is, however, a troubling part to the story,
At the time of the shootings, the fourth pirate was aboard the Bainbridge negotiating with officials, the source said. That pirate was taken into custody.
Let’s hope the Obama administration is not planning on issuing full civil rights protections to that guy.
Having read article after article about Somali pirates, one wonders why, for instance, ship crews are not trained and armed, or if there’s going to be armed response.
Well, the latter question got an answer: The military are ready for action but the White House is stalling.
U.S. military already prepared with battle plans for Somalia pirates, say intelligence sources
Retired U.S. Ambassador Robert Oakley, who was special envoy to Somalia in the 1990s, said U.S. special operations forces have drawn up detailed plans to attack piracy groups where they live on land, but are awaiting orders from the Obama national security team.
“Our special operations people have been itching to clean them up. So far, no one has let them,” Oakley told the Daily News
Andy McCarthy reminds us that To be civilized, we must be strong:
There is nothing less civilized than rewarding evil and thus guaranteeing more of it. High-minded as it is commonly made to sound, it is not civilized to appease evil, to treat it with “dignity and respect,” to rationalize its root causes, to equivocate about whether evil really is evil, and, when all else fails, to ignore it — to purge the very mention of its name — in the vain hope that it will just go away. Evil doesn’t do nuance. It finds you, it tests you, and you either fight it or you’re part of the problem.
The men who founded our country and crafted our Constitution understood this. They understood that the “rule of law” was not a faux-civilized counterweight to the exhibition of might. Might, instead, is the firm underpinning of law and of our civilization. The Constitution explicitly recognized that the United States would have enemies; it provided Congress with the power to raise military forces that would fight them; it made the chief executive the commander-in-chief, concentrating in the presidency all the power the nation could muster to preserve itself by repelling evil. It did not regard evil as having a point of view, much less a right to counsel.
We don’t see it that way anymore. Evil is now just another negotiation. Pirates and terrorists are better known for their human rights than for their inhuman wrongs. On Thursday, America’s commander-in-chief didn’t want to talk about the pirates — “Guys, we’re talking about housing right now,” he chided a reporter who dared to raise the topic as the Somalis held the American ship’s captain hostage. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, was dispatched to assure the public that the world would come together to deal with this “criminal activity” — a relief if you were wondering whether the naval destroyer on the scene was equipped with Miranda-warning cards.
To make the picture even more glum, John Kerry is calling for Senate hearings. I kid you not. What is Kerry planning to do? Summon a few pirates to testify? Request documentation?
Should piracy merit more consideration from Congress than the entire bailout, stimulus, and budget combined?
What next, a strongly-worded letter from the UN?
For too long, America has been too dismissive of the proud culture and invaluable contributions of the Pirate Community. Whether it is their pioneering work with prosthetics, husbandry of tropical birds or fanciful fashion sense, America owes a deep debt to Pirates.
The past eight years have shown a failure to appreciate the historic role of these noble seafarers. Instead of celebrating their entreprenuerial spirit and seeking to partner with them to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.
Some of us wonder if our current Overseas Contingency Operation would even be needed had the last administration not been so quick to label Pirates as “thieves,” “terrorists” and worse. Such swashbucklaphobia can lead to tragic results, as we have seen this week.
Or perhaps the administration will issue calls for cargo-ship reductions?
No farce comes close to regarding national security threats as annoying distractions.