Arrrrrr, Matey. What to Do Next?

I applaud President Obama’s decision to order US Navy Seals to rescue Capt. Richard Phillips from his Somali pirate captures. After spending the first several days of Capt. Phillips’ ordeal not commenting on the situation and having his administration call it a distraction, the President should strength in allowing the military to do its job - rescue an American who was in grave and imminent danger.

The next question to ask is what will President Obama do for an encore. Hopefully, he will continue to take aggressive action against the threat that the pirates cause to international commerce. There was a time, of course, when Americans captured and killed pirates. Unfortunately, this may no longer be the case. When asked last week whether those involved in this incident would be brought to justice, Attorney General Eric Holder declined to make such a commitment. He said, “I’m not sure exactly what would happen next.” Coming from our nation’s top law enforcement office, this doesn’t exactly instill confidence.

Additionally, the military has already prepared battle plans for ending the problem of piracy off the cost of Somalia once and for all. Ambassador Robert Oakley, who was the US special envoy to Somalia in the 1990s, said that US special operations forces have drawn up detailed plans to attack the pirates, but were awaiting orders from the President to implement this plan. Oakley says that if given the order, our special operations forces “could take care of the pirates in 72 hours.” By giving the order, Mr. Obama could take eliminate the piracy scourge and help restore the perception of American strength and resolve that has been eroded in the past two and a half months.

Most view the problem of international piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia as a series of isolated incidents in an area of the world that is far away. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As Mark Steyn points out, a lot of the world’s lawless areas were not lawless that long ago.

Somalia was a colony of Britain and Italy. Iran, under the reign of the Shah, was a Middle Eastern country that educated its population, including women, and was not a state sponsor of terrorism. It was, in fact, an ally of the West. Now, however, Iranian surrogates run Gaza and Lebanon, in addition to funding, training and arming Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists around the world. Prior to the Korean War, what is now North Korea was not a murderous dictatorship that kidnapped Japanese citizens and exported its nuclear technology to other state sponsors of terrorism like Iran and Syria.

Most Western nations lack the ability to defend themselves. And, unfortunately, most that do have this ability lack the will to do so. The once mighty Royal Navy, which has done more over the years than anyone to rid the world of piracy on the high seas, has been advised that under the European Human rights Act, any pirate taken into custody will be entitled to claim refugee status in Her Majesty’s realm. Talk about the enemy within.

This comes just two years after the Royal Navy’s embarrassment by Iran in the Persian Gulf. At the time that of the kidnapping of the 15 British Sailors and Royal Marines, the British Navy was operating under rules of engagement called “de-escalation”. Evidently, this meant no confrontation at all. Instead, the 15 British subjects were paraded out on TV and used as pawns in an international game of chicken.

With bold, swift and decisive action, President Obama has the ability to show the world that the United States has both the ability and the will to defend herself. To put this in maritime terms, such action would be a shot across the bow of those who stand to profit from lawlessness across the globe. Let’s hope that the President makes this choice and that he strikes, literally, while the iron is hot.

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