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RE: Piracy Escalation - A Note On Resolutions and Resolve

Jay made note earlier that the Somali piracy situation has escalated, with the involvement of one of the FBI's hostage negotiating teams working in conjunction with the US Navy on scene. We should be thankful that such men and women stand at the ready to do the work others would (and do) shrink from. Those that are at arm's reach of the situation are working diligently to do what must be done, in their estimation and analysis, in order to safely bring home the Maersk Alabama's captain.

Don't expect such diligence from elsewhere, however. Even if genuinely well intended, Washington is likely going to find themselves wholly unable to cobble together any more (or any different) of an international cooperative approach to the Somali piracy problem.

I caught just enough news earlier to hear Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describe the pirates as just "criminals" and go on, as SecState's generally do, about the need for an "international resolution." Two observations on that, really quickly.

1. The root word of "resolution" is "resolve," to mean either a solution or sheer determination. International "resolutions" fly out of the UN building at Turtle Bay with all the alacrity of a printing press in overdrive. Yet none of them contain a workable "solution" or have the necessary teeth to accommodate any "sheer determination." Two of the most pressing crises the UN has been grappling with for years have been the Iranian nuclear program and the various threats and human rights violations emanating from a belligerent North Korean dictatorship. How are those working out?

2. The Secretary of State might prefer to refer to barbarous pirates off the Somali coast as "criminals," but as I wrotelast night it is more appropriate to consider them "maritime thugs - terrorists at sea." And, as noted at The Tank on National Review Online earlier today, "the potential of al-Qaeda in (or entering) the mix must not be ignored."

What's more, the last UN "resolution" where resolve and solution were actually employed, the American President was the one widely derided as "criminal" for actually doing so.

Expect little "resolve" or "solution" from any UN "resolution," though one would receive wide media fanfare and photo ops.

The "solution" will necessarily fall upon the "resolve" of the private shipping firms who must operate their vessels in the danger zone, taking action themselves in protecting their property and crew members. The US Navy can only do so much and is, as on display today, quite necessarily reactive in nature. This does not deter the maritime thugs - terrorists at sea. It presents a solvable obstacle.

That's what my thoughts in Somali Piracy: A Solution are all about. The best way to prevent successful piracy and defeat the pirates is to harden and defend the mosquitoes' targets, not sparsely occupy a space with sledgehammers.

2 Comments

You are aware that Capt. Phillips essentially volunteered to go with the pirates to allow the rest of his crew go free. From all that I have heard he is a hero.

Unfortunately, this may mark the beginning of a third front in this "Overseas Contingency Operation."

I also should have mentioned that private security firms like Espada Marine Services is positioned to deploy teams onboard ships to discourage pirate assaults.

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