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In Praise of Snipers

Just as the policy mavens were beginning to debate elaborate political-military strategies for dealing with the Somali pirates, we were reminded that the best solution is sometimes the simplest and most direct -- in this case, a sniper’s rifle.

The Navy seals waited stealthily on board the USS Bainbridge for the right moment, and then: pow! Nightmare over. I don’t mean to overdo the gung-ho enthusiasm, but this was a correct and proportionate use of military power. Given the brutality of the pirates’ hostage-taking, and the threat they increasingly posed to maritime traffic in the Gulf of Oman, some decisive action was necessary. And it was taken.

The larger point (there’s always one of those lurking in op-ed land) is that we too often use a howitzer -- or an F-16 -- when a sniper rifle should be the weapon of choice. That is, the United States as a nation tends to favor big, direct deployment of military power when something more limited and discrete would make better sense. That’s one lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan. Invading foreign countries willy-nilly should be an option of last resort; and as we’ve discovered, once the United States gets in, it often can’t get out easily without suffering a serious strategic reversal.

These issues will come to a head over the next few weeks, as the Obama administration tries to frame a Somalia policy. An early sign of this debate was the story in last Saturday’s Washington Post by Greg Jaffe and Karen DeYoung about the administration’s review of policy options against the Muslim militia known as al-Shabab, which dominates the lawless land from which the pirates emerged.

The rag-tag nature of this “insurgency” is conveyed by its name, which in Arabic means “the boys.” Despite al-Shabab's growing power, it’s still closer to a youth gang than a strategic threat to the United States. It poses a menace, to be sure, in the way gun-toting bad guys do in ungoverned spaces anywhere on the planet. But it shouldn’t prompt a big, overt military deployment, or even those “surgical strikes” that air force commanders like to talk about.

This is the kind of problem for which U.S. Special Forces and the covert operators of the Central Intelligence Agency were created. They can move quickly and quietly to alter the balance of power on the ground, just as they have done at sea. They should be subject to close congressional oversight, in secret. The less the rest of the world sees the American footprint in Somalia, the better.

By David Ignatius  | April 13, 2009; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Ignatius  | Tags:  David Ignatius  
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Comments

Shooting pirates might be the simplest and the most direct option, and in the case of the Maersk Alabam, quite justified, but shouldn't it be the last resort? If it can be done without jeopardizing the innocent, why deny anyone the opportunity to defend themselves in some court, the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty?

And taking Ignatius's point to its logical conclusion, killing a head of state might be very simple and very direct and avoid all kinds of bother. But this policy was explicitly rejected by the US Government ages ago. Should it be reinstated?

Posted by: hvravinder | April 13, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

hahaha, Three heads exploding at one time. A perfect ending. One, two, three, fire.....hahaha. Snipers should ride on all maritime vessels in that region. Have a couple RPG's on the ships. Do you think?

Posted by: DIMMY | April 13, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

The navies and shipping companies of the world should share the cost in putting armed guards with long-range and short-range weapons on board the merchant ships in the area. It's cheaper than paying ransom, protects the crews, and cuts of the funding of criminal gangs in Somalia, giving law and order a chance to take root.

Posted by: SageThrasher | April 13, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"Shooting pirates might be the simplest and the most direct option, and in the case of the Maersk Alabam, quite justified, but shouldn't it be the last resort?"

No. A full scale invasion of Somalia should be the last resort. Or next-to-last if a nuclear attack is on the table. Sending in special ops people with sniper rifles is at least 3rd from last, further if you include 'tactical airstrikes' as a discrete option from full invasion. If you consider options like funding proxy players (i.e. Ethiopia), sending in the snipers rapidly rises to potentially being one of the better first options, than the last.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 13, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

It is important to remember the excellent men we have today and have always had...even crossing the Delaware on that cold night as our President reminded us.

There is no substitute.

The team the CIA put into Afghanistan needs to be remembered as well. And we should, today, start to examine what happened when they were pulled out.

The lesson is that we have the teams, but what has often been missing is the strategy from those rare ones like Nagl and Petraeus--and then Marshall who gave us the best plan for what to do when we win.

Good article, take it the next step--please.

Posted by: brooktrout1 | April 13, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"The navies and shipping companies of the world should share the cost in putting armed guards with long-range and short-range weapons on board the merchant ships in the area."

My understanding is that in the other piracy hotspot - the Straits of Malacca between Indonesia & Malaysia - it is up to the ship owners to hire onboard protection - the ones that can afford it, buy it - and go unmolested. Others take their chances, and some of those lose the bet.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 13, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Geography nerd over here. I have to point out that it happened in the Gulf of Aden, which is between Somalia and Yemen (on the way into the Red Sea), not the Gulf of Oman which is between Oman (and UAE) and Iran (on the way into the Persian Gulf) and not really anywhere near Somalia.

Posted by: freckleface | April 13, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes. Its just wonderful to go around an blow people's heads off...

Egads man, do you even have a soul?

Posted by: svreader | April 13, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

While we have the assets in place, why NOT teach the Somalis a little lesson in what it can mean to kick the giants toe? With some decent satellite recon and an assault force we could visit some serious hurt on the pirates operation. Invite some of our Euro friends to come along as well, they're very good at this.

Posted by: hadenuff1 | April 13, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

If the industrial fishing fleets plundering the waters off Somalia were curbed, some of those hungry folks might go back to catching fish instead of container ships and tankers.

Posted by: baldricbear | April 13, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

These three pirates were simultaneously shot with rifles from the heaving deck of one ship to another moving deck. Even for expert shots, this is extremely difficult, and the only reason it was possible is that the pirates were at the end of a 75-foot tow-rope - a mere 25-yard shot.

Now, Obama-haters, follow me slowly:

The only way to get the pirates that close was to attach a rope to their boat. You couldn't sail up to them because they would have killed the hostage.

The only way to attach a rope was to get them to tie it on themselves. No-one else could get close enough.

The only way to get them to tie it themselves was to negotiate, to gain some confidence or a least calm them down, and to make an offer - in this case an offer to tow them to calmer waters.

Ergo - the negotiation and the delay was an essential prelude to the successful shot.

Had the people in charge listened to the charge-in-guns-blazing advice of the far-Right internauts, the hostage would now be dead ... and the Rightwing loons would of course be blaming Obama.

Posted by: kevrobb | April 13, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

"The navies and shipping companies of the world should share the cost in putting armed guards with long-range and short-range weapons on board the merchant ships in the area. It's cheaper than paying ransom,"

From what I've read, it's *not* cheaper than just paying the ransom. This is the main reason why piracy has been allowed to prosper in that area for so long.

Where are you seeing that it's cheaper?

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 13, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

You are correct but let us not forget about the FBI negotiators who were part of crafting the situation that created the kill space and the President who set the conditions for firing. Let us not forget also the right wingnut talk show goons who called President Obama inept because the pirates attacked a U.S. vessel in the first place and for deploying negotiators as a part of the solution. The wingnuts clearly established the transition from compassionate conservatism to commode conservatism in showing that they were not satisfied with putting our country in the toilet they want to finish their big job by flushing U.S.

Posted by: 2incorrigible | April 13, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

It is a good ending - maybe not the best ending. The best would be the capture of all pirates alive because that will have less side effects. In fact, I sent a proposal to the white house web site two days ago: sneak a submarine under the life boat and do one of the following: 1. sudden floating up knocking the lifeboat upside down, the pirates with guns will have more difficulty to swim than the hostage; 2. move a large magnet to the bottom of the boat to make the guns inoperable; 3. release some gas to make everyone in the boat asleep. Anyway, the key is to disable the pirates' ability to use guns. Of course kill them is one option. Whether this will deter other pirates or will cause them to take more violent actions against American sailors no one is sure.

Posted by: smchen90 | April 13, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Well, besides the obvious "Obama is a hero"for giving the order, when if it had been Bush he would have been a "racist killer", we have the proportionate response rationale given by the expert on the use of weapons, military and foreign policy and international trade and commerce - David Ignatius. Ignatius knows that we should have gone into Iraq and just strangled Saddam Hussein - after all, violation and rejection of seventeen UN resolutions gives the greenlight to unilateral assassination, but not military enforcement, right?
Obama is a great leader, isn't he, David?

Posted by: chatard | April 13, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

By lying to the somal's and showing that we used negotiating as a way to lure them to their own deaths, we've gotten a single use out of a specific ruse, but lost credibility for being honest or trustworthy.

Plesase don't get me wrong. I'm glad we sent the Pirates to Hell where they belong if that's the only way we could save the captain's life.

But for every action there's a reaction, and in politics and war its usually not an equal one.

We are being suckered in, as we always are.

Hopefully President Obama will not only not fall for it, but explain his reasoning to the country as well.

Killing People is an extremely bad way to solve problems.

History has proven that over and over and over.

It always comes back to bite you.

Even the worst person has someone who loves them or wants to be a hero by avenging them.

The smartest thing to do with the Pirates is to cut off the problem at its roots.

Otherwise, the weeds just grow back.

Posted by: svreader | April 13, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

You are right about special ops and CIA operations David! The problem with our nation is the left that attacks any aggression!

We need to start going on the offensive without a team of ACLU lawyers drooling behind us. I am sure someone will try to accuse the snipers of murder soon, and demand arrest and conviction!!

Posted by: hotdad14 | April 13, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

WHAT? Davos Dave opting for the least
bloody path?

Isn't he the one who shut up short everyone but Peres
at theDavos conference panel?

As Peres was talking about how kind and civil the ISraelis had been in Gaza?

It'd be nice to think DDave is less blood lusty than the other Israelis firsters. But who knows.

Posted by: whistling | April 13, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Re first post: "why deny anyone the opportunity to defend themselves in some court, the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty?"

Assumed innocent? Of boarding a ship with grappling hooks and holding its captain hostage for ransom? In what alternative universe could these perpetrators possibly be assumed innocent?

*mind-boggled*

Posted by: watchbird1 | April 13, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The comment from baldricbear was right on target. These seamen are resorting to piracy to make a living, not to make a political statement. They are doing so because they were forced out of their previous profession - fishing - by industrial trawlers that decimated the local fish stocks. If these folks had a viable option for supporting their families besides piracy, my hunch is they'd take it.

Posted by: rossasmith | April 13, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

My only hope is that we keep this incident in the proper frame of mind...not political! This was about some very highly trained Navy Seals doing their job and serving their country. We need to celebrate and support these troops and be aware that we will be calling on them again and we want them to be ready and willing to participate again. This is not about Republicans or Democrats...this is about America and our resolve. Let's leave it that way!

Posted by: john_geo_smith | April 13, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, if nothing else, this article and the subsequent blogs seem to accurately reflect the good old USA way of dealing with foreign problems: blow their heads off. The piracy off Somalia is a symptom of a much bigger problems that won't be solved by a division of snipers, or even a flock of F-22's, but you good folks out there keep it up with all your helpful ideas. What a country.

Posted by: jrw1 | April 13, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Ok, here's how it went down. hostle takeover, hostage situation, ransom demand and you have all this information. So, the pirates premeditated a hostage/cargo ship for ransom plot. Time is in the favor of the negotiator in a hostage for ransom caper. The experts new this as well as the pirates. Navy was on the ball.
__________________________________________________________________-

I can almost bet that this very thing happened under the Bush Admin. but kept under strict silence because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. If so, wonder if any of these hostages were Americans during 2000/2008.
Not saying Bush caused any of these incidences, just posing a question?

Posted by: opp88 | April 13, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

If it can be done without jeopardizing the innocent, why deny anyone the opportunity to defend themselves in some court, the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty?

Posted by: hvravinder

______________
Oh, please! If you have the military brought in with American life at stake due to pirates that already tried to take a ship and are threatening to kill a hostage - the time for thinking about "precious gunman's due process rights under criminal law" is long over.

At some point, if leaders of a nation agree on it, dangerous people or situtations transition from the diplomatic and "Rule of Law(yers) spheres - to the military.
And as always has been the case historically, those dangerous foe themselves transition from being "nations being talked to" and "presumed innocent gunmen" into what in military parlance is known as "targets".

Yes, conflict. Where you can legally kill or maim without trial. When you can destroy property without compensation. Where innocence and guilt are irrelevant concepts. There really is no such thing as
an "innocent civilian" because the civilians transformed into soldiers are typically guilty of nothing but serving their nation or kin.

That's just how militaries roll, baby.

And we are on the precipice of transitioning from Somalia pirates being an insoluable criminal justice problem to an international security problem the militaries of most countries may have the lead in dealing with - replacing inadequate Rule By Law(yers) with military exigencies.

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | April 13, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

So to those of you who think we did a disservice to these poor fishermen who are simply trying to feed their families by forcefully hijacking vessels flown under foreign flags in international waters. If some destitute and desparate person invaded your home with your family present, took them hostage at gunpoint with threats of death if a high ramsom was not paid, would you be pissed that the SWAT team took out your family's captor without harm to your family? Would you rather they be held indefinitely until the captors get what they want?

Ridiculousness....

Posted by: RobParker | April 13, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one to think that comparing this hostage rescue with Iraq or Afghanistan is completely irrelevant?
It so happens that there are desperate people in the Straight of Aden acting like pirates. Unless you want to re-colonize Somalia, the options are the same than in any hostage-rescue situation : 1. negociate and possibly pay ; 2. kill them and hope the hostages will be OK ; 3. both. My country (France) has already had to deal with at least 2 similar situations in the Somali waters. One ended up with the government paying, and then trying to get the money back by attacking the pirates on the ground (helicopters, special forces, etc... and eventually half the money back). The other took place only a few days ago : it ended up with Navy commandos storming the sailship, killing the pirates, but with one casualty among the hostages. These are what special ops teams are made for.
These two boats were cruise sailboats, with very stupid people on board (they had been repeatedly warned by civil and military authorities to avoid the area). Apart from partolling the zone, warning ships crews and acting swiftly when necessary, there's not much to do, and there's certainly no lesson to draw from that which could be applied to larger-scale geopolitical matters...

Posted by: clem_flejou | April 13, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm a *flaming* liberal, and even I say shoot the punks. When you put a gun to someone's back and demand money for their life, you surrender the right to a peaceful resolution. If you lay down your gun, then you have a chance to have a trial. If not, you know the risk you're taking. I'm sure some of those foot soldier pirates are coerced into doing what they do on some level, and that sucks, but how else are we supposed to respond in this case? We need to apply some preventative measures, too, but this is exactly what should have happened. The audacity of being offended by this action is astonishing.

Posted by: Karma2 | April 13, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

@hvravinder who says: "Shooting pirates might be the simplest and the most direct option, and in the case of the Maersk Alabam, quite justified, but shouldn't it be the last resort? If it can be done without jeopardizing the innocent, why deny anyone the opportunity to defend themselves in some court, the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty?"

Shooting pirates should be the first resort.
Armed terrorists attempting to board a ship in order to steal the ship and cargo and hold innocent civilians under threat of death unless ransom is paid is unacceptable. They are caught in the act of threatening human life for money and should be killed. What part of that is hard to understand?

These people are barbarians and deserve to be killed at exactly the point in time when they threaten to kill their potential hostages.

This last from the article gave me a chuckle:
"This is the kind of problem for which U.S. Special Forces and the covert operators of the Central Intelligence Agency were created. They can move quickly and quietly to alter the balance of power on the ground, just as they have done at sea. They should be subject to close congressional oversight, in secret. The less the rest of the world sees the American footprint in Somalia, the better."

Please Mr. Ignatius, putting Pelosi and Reid in charge of a major covert military action is like putting Barney Frank in charge of ethics.

Posted by: spamsux1 | April 13, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I think it is sad that these three kids (literally) were so mislead by others that they wound up committing crimes that put them in the position of having to be taken out.
Ages: 17, 18, and 19.

Yeah, they are to blame and deserved what they got, it's the chance they took and it worked out in the worst way for them.

Wasted lives.

Posted by: JRM2 | April 13, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

And taking Ignatius's point to its logical conclusion, killing a head of state might be very simple and very direct and avoid all kinds of bother. But this policy was explicitly rejected by the US Government ages ago. Should it be reinstated?

-------

Sorry, there is simply no other idea indicative of lower intellect functioning than the one asserting assassination will solve the problem.

The corrupt head of state is really, in the end, only a manifestation of something greater, a manifestation of some greater cultural problem.

And in the end, murder creates more problems for the assassin, or his host country, than it resolves any threat -- like a gun recoil.

Killing Bin Laden, say, would do nothing to derail terrorism, it would serve only as an act of revenge, anyone thinking it would act the deterrent is not only laughably simple, but also misguided.

And understanding it from a strategic point of view, is a smart, long-term move, in the better interests of the US?

No.

So, it's revenge, OK. But a simplistic act of revenge on behalf of a government is indicative of a government, a leadership out of control and highly fearful, paranoid, even.

And if that culture is stupid and without courage, without a moral code, it is weak, and can be turned against itself, really.

And these are the larger questions which need to be explored by intelligent people, not the Limbaugh crowd, or even those who don't demand much of themselves, pretending.

As you said, a murder is an act of last resort.


It solves NOTHING, in fact makes the internal infection worse, as it reflects the disordered thinking of those in command who would order such a thing.

Even in the short term, it solves nothing.

Look at Booth, and Lincoln -- solved nothing.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | April 13, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

"Even in the short term, it solves nothing."
----
Except for the fact in this case that it saved the life of an innocent man who could return to his family.

Posted by: JRM2 | April 13, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

If you wantonly play with fire, don't whine because you got burned.

Posted by: Jerry_Fresno | April 13, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Yes great, good, we killed others before they killed us.
I suppose, if you can fly high enough, and kill in complete silence, that makes killing right. I don't think so. You are so wrong. If the world continues the way it has been going, eventually, we all will be killed. Then would you be elated.

Posted by: bjmptcruisergmailcom | April 13, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse


This is one of those times when an eye for an eye is to take out the pirates at the first opportunity. When the first ship got on the scene, the only thing that needed to be said was, "OK, boys you have 10 seconds to release the hostage, after I finish saying what I'm going to say here and then we are going to hit you with 4 head shots from our snipers, one for each of you. So, if you don't show us the Captain, we're going to show you what we mean when we say that we don't negotiate with pirates/terrorists, nuff said.

Posted by: mwolfen624 | April 13, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

What happened happened. It was a sucessful resolution to a kidnapping attempt. We hear a lot about the pirates and their "gold" i.e. $100 bills in ransoms. How do they wash that laundry? What U.S. or other country business in Mogadishu manages to convert the stash into usable dollars for goods and services that the pirates and their towns need or want? Maybe we ought one day declare the US dollar bills as unlawful currency and print new money to be exchanged only by proof of legal transactions. when I was in Korea in 1953 the US script money was re-printed every two years or so and it debilitated all the stashes by black marketeers and others. It worked! Can you imagine the effect on drug money? On the underground economy? The only trouble will be that in this country people who should not do talk to the press as confidential sources and there would go the secrecy in the dollar swap.

Posted by: HarGru | April 13, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse


I would like to know what would Obama have said or done if these pirates were radical/extremist muslims. After bowing to the Saudi King, we will never know what he has in store for us. Our Navy has made this country proud again, they were a tad slow but they took the appropriate action and the exact action, this was a just finish to these somali pirates. And, if anyone who defends the actions of these pirates, then you should be on the receiving end of the Captain of the ship and his family. Those pirates were old enough to know the consequences of their actions would lead them to.

Posted by: mwolfen624 | April 13, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Most of these comments seem to be designed to further one political agenda or another.

Piracy has been a problem ever since commerce began -- why do you think that most important historical cities are stationed at commercial chokepoints? Amsterdam, Elsinore, Hamburg, Florence -- they were all originally created to levy funds from the merchants passing by.

And combating piracy was the original purpose of international cooperation. The piracy off Somalia is classical in its character -- teenagers with no other economic option, under control of merchant princes in Dubai. You could find the same model in remote stretches of Mexico.

It's foolish to focus on blowing up the teenagers. It would be preferable, but much harder, to get the princes. While we're working on the financiers and beneficiaries of modern piracy, how about trying to provide another economic outlet to the desperately poor denizens of that benighted territory, Somalia?

Posted by: thaimex | April 13, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Most of these comments seem to be designed to further one political agenda or another.

Piracy has been a problem ever since commerce began -- why do you think that most important historical cities are stationed at commercial chokepoints? Amsterdam, Elsinore, Hamburg, Florence -- they were all originally created to levy funds from the merchants passing by.

And combating piracy was the original purpose of international cooperation. The piracy off Somalia is classical in its character -- teenagers with no other economic option, under control of merchant princes in Dubai. You could find the same model in remote stretches of Mexico.

It's foolish to focus on blowing up the teenagers. It would be preferable, but much harder, to get the princes. While we're working on the financiers and beneficiaries of modern piracy, how about trying to provide another economic outlet to the desperately poor denizens of that benighted territory, Somalia?

Posted by: thaimex | April 13, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

There is only one way to deal with the pirates.
Send in the Navy


recruiters.

Sign them up and torture them with the endless bureaucracy of all the little steps to become a qualified US Navy Seaman. Put them thru all the rigors of becoming responsible citizens.

Burden them with taxes and responsibilities.

Grind them into the ground and make them good citizens of the world.

Posted by: gemniii | April 13, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

The navy needs a new Carrier set up just to deal with these pirates . With long range armed small drones that can escort these ships through the trouble areas at sea 24/7. Fast copters to move forces to deal with problems . A squadren of fighters to protect the carrier . Properly set up for control of the drones and service them and their size . They could have as many as 1500 of them stalking the pirates at one time . Thing about those drone . They store small . They are hard to see , out of sight and mind . They are like flying tanks in the sky . Sheaper then the big jets and save lives of our troops . They can fly like a glider saving fuel cost . In a navy that needs to cut cost .

Posted by: texaskbar | April 14, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Great shooting, I'm sure (pink mist martinis on the house). And now we have a 16-year-old Somalian that we can store in Bagram, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, or Leavenworth until he's like 80 years old. Great.

But I'd be interested to see video of the shooting, same as I'm interested to see the Rodney King footage, just so I know that no one got trigger-happy. From the accounts I've seen thus far, it's impossible to tell whether a Somalian hijacker *pointed* a gun at him or merely *gestured* with it. (Not that I don't trust the military to *always* tell me the truth, as with Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman.)

And just from an operations standpoint, if American policy was to stop piracy in Somalian waters, wouldn't we want to capture the hijackers, gain intel about their network(s), and then roll up the entire network(s)? If so, killing the low-level operatives defeats our ability to gain that intel. Jus' sayin'.

Posted by: wombatmaster | April 14, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Our Tinkerbelle Pirate Policy
- - -
Simon is correct. The brave actions of the SEALs and the captive captain are to be applauded, but this also highlights the nuttiness of the larger U.S. policy that pre-dates Obama. For many months there have been stories about these pirates that, often inadvertently, make clear the underlying assumption among governments, experts, the press and others that the pirates shall NOT be harmed. To which I always look heavenward and say, “Huh?” On the one hand, any of us could get routinely (understandably) blown away by trying to rob a convenience store of 20 bucks and a warm burrito, on the other, Somali pirates could steal a full supertanker, captain and crew using armed force, but God forbid that a single pirate should come to any harm. Apparently even a playful wedgie would have been out of the question. Yes, we worry about the safety of already held hostages, but does law enforcement usually do this domestically, do they say, “If kidnappers try to get you, remember the safety of current hostages and don’t try to defend yourself, just shuffle off to your indefinite captivity.” To think cynically for a moment, one factor might be that oil producing nations and big shipping companies are not as bothered as normal people by all this because they can simply pass along the costs. What’s a few million dollars when you are accustomed to dealing in bazillions? What do they care if every time you fill up your tank you are paying a small pirate tax, especially if they might add their own surcharge? So that part of it might be understandable, but not so the actions, really non-actions, of the U.S. and other Western governments. Tinkerbelle showed more gumption toward Captain Hook. How did we Americans become so reduced? No wonder Western civilization is going down like a leaky tanker.
- - -
Border Enforcement + Immigration Moratorium = Job, Crime & Eco Sanity

Posted by: tma_sierrahills | April 14, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

It was a great rope-a-dope strategy from the Navy to get them to accept the tow line. The President was correct to have a very basic order in place. He did not, nor should he have, in any way direct the mission. Give credit where it is due to the Commander who called it right and the snipers who don't miss. SEAL snipers, not seal. Yeesh the lack of respect for the military is palpable.

All you weenies who cry over a life lost would need a diaper change if you ever confronted evil head on. Fortunately, you can hide behind your laptops, pontificate that we should all live in a utopian society and have your butts covered by the grownups.

Posted by: joanne600 | April 14, 2009 5:23 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes, guns and violence solve problems.

Posted by: hit4cycle | April 14, 2009 7:16 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations to the snipers perhaps their expertise was perfected in Iraq and there is an ongoing competition for the most number of kills.

The dead are people are inferior and hardly human and are dead because "they are not American" !!!

.

Posted by: mathewneville | April 14, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Hey! Democrat MSM op-ed ding-a-ling! Why should we, the USA, send in covert ops to Somalia? Huh? We've had one lousy ship hijacked, we handled it just fine, let the rest of the worlds shippers deal with this mess. Ohhhh, thats right, now that a fellow traveler is in the WH it's OK now to be the worlds policeman. In fact it's preferable! Just more principle shifting from the "personal is political" crowd.

Posted by: silverbyte | April 14, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

1. NAVY had to beg President Hussein TWICE before he authorized the use of force.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/13/world/africa/13pirates.html?_r=1&hpw=&pagewanted=print
He probably wanted to get UN Human Rights commission involved first.

2. So how this "proportional" us of force libtarded writer solves the whole piracy problem? Duh! It does not. F-16 are in order. Imagine cringing Husssein voters, who would rather see the Pirates issue be settled at ICC with US found guilty

Posted by: pihto999 | April 14, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

Those who sleep so safe in their beds and question the actions of those "hard men" are free to do so because of those men.

Posted by: jcg5902 | April 14, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

We can congratulate ourselves but to the rest of the world it is just an example of a gigantic country taking pleasure in squashing a flea.
The part that caught my attention was that the Somali fishermen had lost their fishery to giant fishing trawlers as well as their livelihood and that causes one to wonder why no one cared about that?? Not that one thing justifies the other but there is still the scale of what we consider important compared to what they may feel is important. Us being such a super-power we can expect everyone to look at our side first....or else!

Posted by: cgillard | April 14, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Snipers? What snipers? Those pirates must have fallen overboard and drowned. (Whistle as you walk away......)

Posted by: ADNova | April 14, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks that shooting a few teen-age hoodlums solves the piracy problem is probably chewing something a lot stronger than qat. What's the score now? Pirates 500 or so wins, U.S. Navy 1?

As long as there's a prospect of making millions with such minimal risk, the pirates will keep at it. And next time the pirates will shoot first.

Posted by: donnolo | April 14, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it gratifying to hear Obama, Gibbs, and every Democrat on the planet remind us of the fine military personnel they inherited from the previous administration! Oh, I guess not...

Posted by: LLWB | April 14, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

There are a couple of fallacies in the logic of this column.

First, there are actually more F-16s than SEAL snipers in the Navy, and a lot more howitzers in the Marines. Special forces units are in limited supply, and they should only be used for the situations for which they are best suited, not indiscriminately.

Second, there's a big difference between shooting from aboard your own ship and venturing into enemy territory on a wild goose chase after unidentified pirates. If we can identify the pirates, we should not risk high value special forces if a weapons much better suited to penetrating enemy lines - like a cruise missile - will do.

Posted by: WarrenDew | April 15, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse

The headline for this tragedy should have read, "Racist America kills 3 African youths." If the pirates were European we would have negotiated and not shot them. It's only because they were individuals of color that they were shot. Don't you war mongers realize that these poor kids come from single parent family units? That their only crime is to have grand-parents that lived under the yoke of Colonialism?

Huh? Bush ain't President any more? Disregard my prior comments.

Posted by: ej_smug | April 15, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

What - we celebrate now when 3 starving teenagers are on the receiving end of a headshot ? What the hell has this country and it's stupid redneck population come to ?

These desperate kids are watching their families starve as many grow up with strange birth defects. Their country has no hope and violence is all around them, yet multi-million dollar cargoes go past on the horizon.

Don't be so quick to judge them. You would do EXACTLY the same.

Posted by: polaris11 | April 15, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

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