Pirates snatched a United States-flagged Maersk Line container ship with 20 American crew members off the coast of Somalia. The crew beat off the brigands but the pirates managed to hang on to Capt. Richard Phillips who is from Underhill, Vermont, about 25 miles south of North Puffin.
The Navy arrived. The pirates threatened to kill Captain Phillips. The world watched while a lifeboat tethered 100′ behind its stern stood off the worlds most powerful navy.
The Navy passed the buck to the President to allow them to use deadly force against the hijackers. President Obama granted permission three times but “only if the captains life appeared to be in imminent danger.”
Darned if it didn’t appear that the captains life was in imminent danger. Navy SEALs did their job and there are three fewer lawbreakers adding to the genetic pool.
Other pirates in Somalia bristled and promised to kill Americans in future hijackings to avenge the deaths of their brethren under the skull and crossbones. “In the future, America will be the one mourning,” the New York Times quoted pirate Abdullahi Lami as saying. I have to wonder why the cops can’t find this guy if the New York Times can.
At first glance, the incident was a police action and the Navy handled it well. The pirates committed grand theft-ship and kidnaping. The response was exactly what any trained law enforcement officer would bring to bear in a hostage crisis.
Seizing a United States-flagged ship is not a bank robbery.
Any Navy skipper has similar responsibilities but much more authority than the average police commissioner. After all, the average police commissioner doesn’t have combat troops, 5″ cannons, more than 100 missiles, and, perhaps, nuclear weapons. The cop on the street would ask for a sergeant or a lieutenant for permission to use deadly force to resolve a hostage crisis. The cop on the street would never ask the police commissioner. And a Navy Captain is not a cop on the street.
President Obama usurped the role of a police commissioner by micro managing this hostage crisis.
That sends the wrong message to the bad guys and a bad message to the troops.
The USS Bainbridge is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer with the right equipment and the right crew. President Obama should have sent the following message to Commander Francis X. Castellano: “Take whatever action you need to. I have your back.”
Terrorists changed the Rules of War when they first sent irregular “troops” to fight soldiers by blowing up civilians. The new Rules are simple: “if you attack a United States citizen or a United States property or a United States-flagged ship anywhere in the world, you have committed an Act of War against the United States.” We get to kill you all and let your God sort out which of you get to be Ahmed’s virgins.
Shooting at a man on horseback while riding at a gallop is man’s second hardest physical feat (hitting a major league pitch is the hardest). The Navy SEALs aboard the USS Bainbridge performed far better than their superiors on land.