The Obama administration put out a disturbingly weak statement last week after the latest piracy outrage off the coast of Somalia. Four Americans vacationing on a 58-foot yacht died during a standoff between a U.S. warship and the pirate crew that seized their vessel.We used to refer to "calls for action" as "kicking the can down the road," a clear sign that nothing was about to change in a hurry.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the act deplorable, which it was, but what did she urge? More “decisive action” by the “international community,” which has been largely ineffective so far.
The United Nations Security Council adopted an anti-piracy measure more than two years ago. It created a 28-nation entity to deal with the problem and permitted attacks on the pirates’ land bases.
Certainly when Americans are endangered, Washington shouldn’t wait for the U.N. to engage in “decisive action.” That said, the problem is a knotty one because some authorities believe the pirates could be holding several hundred hostages awaiting ransom at their land bases.
Several nations have warships patrolling the area, but as is usual with U.N. efforts there’s little coordination.
Even so, pirate gangs operate at sea from small vessels served by “mother ships.” In the case of the slain Americans, the mother ship was believed to be a Yemeni fishing boat.
The Navy would begin sending the right message if it began interdicting suspected pirate vessels and sinking them if they refuse to surrender. Any pirates captured should be held for trial.
The East Africa piracy problem has festered far too long, mainly because the “international community” has chosen to do nothing effective about it — inaction that has endangered the lives of innocent travelers.
Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/02/28/2688868/the-stars-editorial-feckless-inaction.html#ixzz1FuyKi460
I guess the good news is that ship owners and operators are beginning to engage, in a serious way (and in growing numbers), armed private contractors to defend their ships and crews instead of waiting for government action.
UPDATE: It might also help if the U.S. Navy had a number of ships that were better suited to the interdiction and monitoring of boats and ships off Somalia. See here and the links therein for some thoughts on how to build a sizable small ship anti-pirate force in a relative hurry.