Sunday, April 12, 2009

Unanswered Questions About the Navy Rescue

Amid feelings of relief and gratitude, there are important unanswered questions concerning the rescue of the courageous American cargo ship captain from Islamist-linked, Somali Muslim pirates--specifically, with regard to President Barack Obama's authorization of deadly force if the captain's life was in "imminent danger."

1. Why did the President have to twice OK use of force?

2. Why was his authorization limited to a determination of "imminent danger?"

3. Why weren't the snipers ordered or authorized to shoot the pirates simply if the snipers believed that they could kill the pirates without endangering the life of the captain?

4. Was the hostage crisis, in which the captain was kept in a lifeboat for five days, needlessly prolonged by the imminent danger rule of engagement--which seems to indicate a legalistic concern for the lives of the pirates?

5. Would the lifeboat have been allowed to drift to shore had one or more of the pirates not made the fatal mistake of making menacing moves toward the captain?

The President has vowed to work with other nations to interdict Somali pirates at sea and bring them to justice. Maritime security experts dismiss the pledge as empty propaganda. Swift, decisive attacks on the pirate bases and their Islamist protectors, including the Al Qaeda-associated Al Shabab, which shares in the profits of piracy, are needed, along with a naval blockade, possibly, of the key ports. There is no need to coordinate with other nations or ask their permission.

The U.S. spends about a half-trillion dollars a year on defense; it should be able to obliterate well known pirate bases and terrorist training camps--Al Shabab has several in southern Somalia--and blast pirate ships out of the water before they capture more ships and take more hostages.

POSTSCRIPT: One hostage crisis down, two to go.... Two American reporters are being held hostage in North Korea; one Iranian-American freelance journalist is being held hostage in Iran.