The tiresome Somali pirates are at it again, or rather they never really went away and have expanded their operations, attacking an American flag vessel. So our eyes are upon them again. It's heartening that in this case, an American crew resisted and took back their ship. As I write, a standoff exists in which the pirates hold the ships Captain hostage on a lifeboat which is adrift. Fellow pirates are rushing to the scene in a delusional effort to assist. I say delusional because they do not hold any valuable asset save for the Captain.
The pivotal element in this dumb show is the pirate's belief that Westerners will always pay rather than fight so long as any hostage or ship is at stake. As weak as we Westerners are now in such matters, I think they are mistaken. As they are expanding their range of operations they make themselves too big a nuisance to be ignored. The cost to the world economy of shipping critical materials around the cape of Africa just to avoid these fools will be too much to bear.
I am waiting to see Obama's reaction to this. On one hand I doubt that he finds the spilling of African blood appealing. On the other, this is a good opportunity early in his administration to show what stern stuff he is made of. My sense of the man is that he would not like to fight but this inclination may be put aside for the greater good of his image.
The answer to Somali piracy is simple. Deprive them of their bases. As I opined before, greasing the palm of some Somali warlord or other will bring the whole thing to a stop. If this proves impractical, I think should inform the Somali maritime community (such as it is) that we will act in a draconian way to the next act of piracy beyond a certain day. That day will pass with no cessation of piracy. The simple expedient of sinking every Somali vessel over 15feet, will concentrate their attention and shrink their bellies to a point of reasonableness.
Finally, the immediate hostage situation has a simple resolution. A phone call to the captain is in order. At this point he simply jumps overboard and the navy shoots the pirates dead. You see, Somali pirates cannot swim!