Friday, April 10, 2009

The Pirate Standoff

The French just got one of their hostages killed in a daring raid. Whether this will actually smoke out a comment from Obama remains to be seen. Perhaps this is an opening for him to remind people that if the pirates just unclench their fists Obama will reach out his hand and drop 'em some cash.

Meanwhile, this gizmo was all the rage several years ago, representing one of my early posts. What other than high technology, the modern equivalent of the Pinkertons, or destroyer escorts will solve this problem? We simply cannot go in there blazing guns and get Captain Phillips killed. Obama's presumed position is correct--we just don't do that in America. We give them the money, get the captain back, then have a C130 gunship meet them onshore.

MORE 4/11/09

They strike again, this time an American Italian tugboat with 16 crew. Guess they're trying not to discriminate against old Europe.

Yet Obama remains mute on the subject, completely ignoring it in his weekly address (although it was a fine address overall). He did mention his speech in Turkey where he said America was not at war with Islam. So, here's the conspiracy theory of the day:

The media has told us the Somali pirates are not affiliated with al-Qaeda. We've also been told it's hard to get journalists into that lawless enclave. Yet recently in a conversation with al-Reuters this exchange occurred:
Reached by Reuters via satellite phone, the pirates on the lifeboat sounded desperate. "We are surrounded by warships and don't have time to talk," one said. "Please pray for us."
How Reuters would have such connections is a mystery unto itself, but this certainly suggests the pirates are faithful to some religion. And what religion might that be?

Well, it could be Christianity, but just speculating there's only one religion that provides verses that could possibly be twisted enough to justify their high seas pilferage--the same one used by the Barbary Pirates over 200 years ago:
It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every muslim who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy's ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once. [2] [3]
So if Obama were to roll in the Navy and Marines with guns ablazin' leaving pirate bodies all over the place he'd likely be accused of going to war with Islam, a place he doesn't want to be. There are other reasons, but that certainly might be one, which is not being discussed in polite company right now.

But I'm willing to be corrected on this theory by facts, assuming they come to the surface anytime soon.


The WaPo has a fairly interesting article that goes through all the complex reasons that Obama is taking a careful approach here, ending with this paragraph:
They are "walking slowly," the official said, "and for the players with continuity, the frustration continues to grow."

But many on the national security team insist that it is their caution and willingness to consider all aspects of the situation that differentiate them from the overly aggressive posture of the Bush administration that they say exacerbated the terrorist threat.
Nutshell--they are worried about the connections between the pirates and al-Shahab, just as the Bush admin was, but are pretending that any response to hostile action is in fact the cause of hostile reactions. That's somewhat reminiscent of the relatively non-confrontational Clinton approach, which only led to increasing escalation of the attacks as time passed culminating in 9/11 and suggests a lack of understanding of the problem. But I guess they've got to try it and see for themselves. Who knows, maybe Obama can pull it off.

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