US vs Pirates: Game On
Two fascinating headlines from Monday morning, following the tremendous action (and message) by the US Navy SEALs in simultaneously decerebelizing three Somali pirates.
From CNN: “Pirates vow to kill U.S., French sailors“
And from Bloomberg: “U.S. Military Considers Attacks on Somali Pirates’ Land Bases“
The negotiations with the pirates broke down before the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips when Somali tribal elders refused to agree that the pirates would be arrested if they were allowed to live. That left the US government with two choices: Let pirates slip back into Somalia, feeling that they outmaneuvered the entire US government and military, or play the Queen of Hearts (from Alice in Wonderland): “Off with their heads.” Thankfully, Barack Obama made the right choice authorizing deadly force and the on-scene commanders showed why the US military is the best in the world.
While clearly the pirates are no match for the US military in the long run, or in a face-to-face fight, the actual events will be typical “asymmetric warfare". The pirates will do what pirates do…sneak in when there are not military vessels around, board a ship, and do what they do. Their threats to kill US hostages must be taken seriously. One must believe that the pirates will be on a mission, especially in the short term, to find Americans to kill.
So, there are a few policy possibilities which emanate from this fact: One, cargo ships traveling along the eastern coast of Africa should consider having their own modestly-sized contingent of armed men on board. This may not be as simple as it sounds, given likely restrictions on the entrance of weapons into ports around the world. There is also the question of training non-military sailors to use weapons; a better, but more expensive, option might be to use outside contractors.
The other policy discussion must be as the second article linked above suggested: How should the US and its allies (yeah, right, we’ll get lots of help, just like in Afghanistan…) preemptively deal with the pirates? I believe we should send small special forces teams, guided by the most reliable local informers we can find, into the region and kill the pirates where they sleep, and inform the warlords that if the pirates do not cease and desist, the warlords and their families will be next. (This strategy worked to excellent effect in the lead-up to the invasion of Afghanistan.) The threat of death is the only language such people understand. They are not “criminals", as Hillary Clinton is wont to call them. They are terrorists, and must be dealt with as such.
We must give no weight to the limp-wristed State Department line that piracy is just “one symptom” of problems in Somalia. If you get cancer from smoking, you don’t simply quit smoking and hope the cancer will go away. And while even the UN passed a resolution allowing attacks on pirates’ land bases, we must push the Administration not to rely on “diplomacy” and ordinary criminal trials for pirates. The Administration does seem to want to work that way, as Obama and Hillary clearly see US power as something to apologize for, not use to our advantage.
In March, the Navy turned seven pirates over to Kenya for trial. I’m not exceptionally hopeful about the outcome, not least because the US government staff writer repeatedly described the Somalis as “alleged pirates". Read the following paragraph; can you not be very suspicious that this writer, probably working for Hillary Clinton, isn’t really sure who the bad guys are when poor Somalis attack the ships of rich western countries?
Vice Admiral William Gortney told a March 5 congressional hearing that the bilateral agreement took effect that very day, when Kenya accepted the alleged pirates. The Navy captured the men February 11, when a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel called for help as pirates equipped with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades attempted to board.
So, boarding a ship with military-grade weapons and RPGs still leaves some doubt as to whether they’re pirates? Maybe they’re just part of a Somali fraternity hazing?
If the Kenya trial ends up without a guilty verdict, or gets a guilty verdict but does not generate either life in prison or a death sentence for the pirates, then in the future when we catch a pirate in the act we should do what Mao did with his enemies: Shoot him in the head and send his family a bill for the bullet.
Although these pirates are Muslim, I do not believe they have the same desire for death at the hands of the infidel that we find among people like the Taliban. After all, what good is ransom money if you can’t spend it? We must put fear of sudden death into them and their leaders in a way they can not ignore and dare not defy. The first thing to do is to send a message to the Somali “elder” who refused to let the pirates be arrested: “If any Americans are killed by Somali pirates, your family will find your head, or what’s left of it, the next day.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Rossputin on 04/14/09 at 01:53:32 am . Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0.|