In one of its more overstretched spins on a news event involving the U.S. military, the New York Times front page yesterday opined that the hostage stand-off with the Somali pirates "showed the limits of the world's most powerful military." What it has in fact showed so far is the apparently still-needed distinction between the behavior of the civilized world and of barbarism.Amen. It's a serious mistake to view trying to save an individual citizen with weakness or tolerance for pirates.
The U.S. aircraft over the small pirate boat bobbing off the Horn of Africa are prevented from turning that boat into floating scrap only out of concern for the American hero of the moment, Captain Richard Phillips. The Somali pirates holding Capt. Phillips and many other hostages succeed only because, like all criminals confronting the civilized world today, they have reduced the value of human life to zero.
Amid the crisis Wednesday for the Maersk Alabama cargo ship, Capt. Phillips calculated without hesitation that he would put his life at risk to save the lives of his crew members. He traded one life to save many. In some corners of the nation, that honorable act is also well understood as a show of American strength. General David Petraeus, now head of the U.S. Central Command, will surely seek a way in turn to save Capt. Phillips' life. That may require patience.
Out of view of the world's media yesterday, the French government acted against Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden who had captured a French sailboat Saturday. The French navy killed two pirates and captured three. Four hostages, including a child, were freed. One hostage died in the operation. The message sent was that France will act to ensure the safety of all French citizens.
All Americans this weekend are hoping the best for Capt. Phillips. And we would guess that most Americans understand this event has little to do with U.S. military "might" and a lot to do with U.S. self-respect and honor, of which Capt. Phillips and his men have shown plenty.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
From the Wall Street Journal, Against Somalian Pirates, the U.S. Military Still Upholds a Respect for Human Life: