Somali Pirates Kill Americans. Again. NOW What?

According to just about every news source on the planet, Somali pirates have killed four Americans aboard their hijacked yacht. Here’s the details as we currently understand them…

The Quest, a yatch owned by Scott and Jean Adam, was hijacked on Friday off the coast of Oman. Also aboard were Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle. U.S. forces had been closely monitoring the situation aboard the vessel. They had been participating in an international yacht race, the Blue Water Rally, but left it on February 15th to take an independent course from India to Oman.

According to FoxNews:

Two pirates died during the confrontation and 13 were captured and detained, along with two pirates already in custody. U.S. forces also found the remains of two other pirates already dead aboard the vessel and believe a total of 19 pirates were involved in the hijacking.

The Adams had a bible ministry, and had been sailing the world with their yacht packed full of Bibles since 2004.

Here’s a fun factoid that will help put things in perspective: not counting the attack against the Quest, pirates hold 30 ships and more than 660 hostages at this point in time.

This brings up a number of questions and I’ve got a few observations to go with them.

  • If it’s true that the best way to avoid trouble is to not be there when it happens, and if there are a total of 30 ships currently held by pirates, isn’t it taking the laws of self-preservation less than seriously to sail your yacht anywhere NEAR Somalia?
  • Adding to the danger, isn’t it just asking for a bunch of ignorant, Muslim terrorist/pirates to just pull the trigger by sailing around with not just one Bible, but a litteral boatload of ’em? Just sayin.’
  • When is an American President going to reach back in time, channel the spirit of Thomas Jefferson, and deal with this modern-day incarnation of the Barbary Pirates (“not one penny for tribute”)?

Look, nobody’s gonna confuse me with being a liberal. But this isn’t necessarily a Left versus Right thing, or a Dem versus GOP thing. It’s an international sovereignty thing. America has a long-standing rep (now seriously pooched) that when American citizens travel abroad, yea though they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, they shall fear no evil, because we’re the most powerful sonsabitches in the valley. Damn straight. But when the “third way” kicked in under Clinton (resulting in Blackhawk Down), followed by the “kinder and gentler” nonsense promoted by Bush II (9/11), and the subsequent “it’s all our fault” meme favored by the ObamaNation, is it any wonder that nobody’s afraid of us any more?

Being the remaining world superpower is a lot like being a parent. When you’re a parent, you can’t afford to be best buddies with your kids. You want respect and obedience. You love them, but that sometimes means you have to show them tough love. And if the choice comes down to discipline or friendship, the smart parent chooses discipline every time. From where I sit, there’s one thing (and one thing only) that those in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa fear. It’s the projection of brute force and the willingness to use it. We’re screwed because they no longer believe we are willing to use it.

I can count on the fingers of one hand, the number of times I have had to resort to corporal punishment with my child. And have several fingers left. Yet, my daughter both loves and respects me. She respects me, because I love her enough to discipline her when it’s appropriate. To do less would not win her affection…it would lose her respect. I want to write a book: Everything I Need To Know About Diplomacy, I Learned Being a Dad.

International relations, despite what Hillary might like to think, is not about the velvet glove holding the dove or the rose. It’s about the steel gauntlet inside the glove. Speak softly, but carry a big stick. That sort of thing. No power = no respect. And I’m afraid that this “progressive” attitude that infects BOTH parties has led to the emasculation of America. Or to put it bluntly: On the world stage, who would you respect/fear/obey more: John Wayne or Alan Alda. Metrosexuals? We don’ need no steenkin’ Metrosexuals!

Back when the last ship of American registry got waylaid by Somali pirates, the U.S. Navy (God bless ’em!) had snipers on a nearby ship, awaiting approval by the Commander in Chief to engage the pirates. That approval, as the story goes, was NOT forthcoming. Seems the Ditherer in Chief was more worried about world opinion than he was saving American lives. So the ship’s captain (who could see the whole psycho-drama playing out before him, made an executive decision. The SEALs were ordered to take their shots. And so they did. The outcome was predictable: the best marksmen on the planet brought home the bacon (snicker) and shot the leaders of the less-than-merry band of Somali pirates dead. The rest did the French hands thang, and surrendered. (The one poor S.O.B. we captured was recently convicted in a U.S. court of law.)

So here’s a thought. You wanna end piracy of U.S. ships on the high seas? How about letting the commanders on site run things. We put these guys in charge of literally billions of dollars of military gear. We give them the best training. We put them in harm’s way. Don’t you think it’s about time to give them the authority to call the shots in situations like this? Maybe if we had a few more incidents where the captains on the scene could improvise, prosecute, and attack, the pirates might just think twice before hijacking a ship flying the ol’ Red, White and Blue. We used to say “those colors don’t run.” It’s high time we stop forcing our sailors to run away from a battle on the high seas.

comments

  1. avatar Wes says:

    I’m not sayin’ the U.S. might want to take a lesson from the Russians on this one, but I’m just sayin’.

  2. avatar Javier E says:

    In my personal opinion the belief that WE wont do squat to bad people began in 1991 when we left Saddam Hussein in power. Now, we can what if til the devil comes, but that wont change anything. What needs to happen is we stop the putting ourselves out there for the pirates to get us. As for the pirates, screw them to the mast as warning.

  3. avatar karl b says:

    US forces left Lebanon right after the Beirut bombing in ’83, so the tradition goes back a bit further that Clinton or GHW Bush.

  4. avatar Aaron says:

    This story made me angrier than almost anything else I’ve seen in the news over the last couple of months. Imagine the horrible mix of fear and hope those four unfortunate people felt, right up until the moment they died.
    It’s time for everyone sailing a pleasure craft in international waters to start arming up.
    And it’s time to unleash the full fury of the US Marines on every Somali pirate ship and pirate base.

  5. avatar BCB says:

    It seems like we tragically need the occasional story of violence and crime abroad to bring us back to this point. We have a right to be outraged and demand retribution – we also have a responsibility for our own personal safety.

    I am saddened by the news of four good people being gunned down after an encounter with lawless pirates, but it’s also an illustration of tragic hubris which may have been preventable. We seem to forget that while life in America is relatively safe, cushy, and filled with processed foods, the rest of the world can be a scary, dangerous place.

    That said, 30 vessels and 600+ hostages currently being held? I know our Navy is out there busting ass to protect commercial and private interests from pirates but perhaps the best thing to do would be to stay out of the region unless you:
    a) need to be there
    b) are aware of the risks and travel to minimize them
    c) have the means to protect your vessel (be it Naval escort or otherwise)

  6. avatar The 4th says:

    The problem with depending on the government to protect you while sailing is the same as relying on the police to protect you at your local 7-11 – when seconds count, they are minutes away. I lived on a boat for five years and sailed throughout the Caribbean. The weapons you can legally protect yourself with on a boat in international waters depend on the laws where the boat is registered. But when you enter a foreign port, you are subject to the laws of that country. And in most foreign countries, almost all firearms are illegal and you will be arrested and jailed for an illegal weapon. Thus the dilemma faced by many at Toys-R-Us and other places that ban concealed carry – do I do it anyway or take my chances? Piracy worldwide in 2009 was 406 cases, up from 293 in 2008. See http://www.icc-ccs.org/news/385-2009-worldwide-piracy-figures-surpass-400. Now considering the total number of ships sailing the oceans, that’s not much. But personally, I carried then and I will carry now. I simply refuse to be a victim.

  7. avatar Martin Albright says:

    So am I the only one here who thinks that what really happened was a botched rescue attempt by the Navy? Two pirates were killed in confrontation but two were “found dead” on the boat? WTF? Did they have high cholesterol and suffer sudden spontaneous heart attacks before the Navy swooped in? Or were they severely depressed and committed suicide?

    Or is it more likely that the commander on site did exactly what Brad is suggesting, ordered his sharpshooters to fire (killing the two pirates) which only caused the remaining 17 to say “oh, so that’s how we’re gonna play this, huh?” and execute the hostages.

    My point being that while we can rejoice at incidents like the one last year where the SEAL snipers took out the baddies with no further bloodshed, we ought not to start thinking that this sort of outcome is normal.

    The ugly little secret of Special Operations like this is that they fail a lot more than they succeed. In situations like this, there are about 100 possible outcomes: Outcome 1 is the bad guys get taken out and the hostages are rescued alive (best possible scenari0.) Outcome 2 is everything stays the same as it was before, and outcomes 3 – 100 are various stages of disaster that involve innocents and/or members of the rescue force getting killed.

    As far as laying waste to the pirates and those who harbor them, it is an illusion to think that can be done without some serious political blowback. Political decision makers have to look at the macro, not just the micro.

    1. avatar Aaron says:

      I remember poor Col. Higgins, who foresaw his abduction and murder in the Middle East in the 1980s.
      “If I’m abducted” he calmly asked his fellow officers. “Come and get me. I’d rather die in a botched rescue than be slain by my captors and dumped somewhere.”

      1. avatar Wes says:

        Or the great Captain Reynolds, who said, “Remember, if anything happens to me, or you don’t hear from me within the hour… you take this ship and you come and you rescue me.”

        1. avatar BCB says:

          and “Someone tries to kill you, you try to kill them right back!”

        2. avatar Aaron says:

          I love Mal’s propensity for killing bad guys with quick head shots, usually in mid-sentence as they’re trying to “negotiate” with him.

    2. avatar miforest says:

      I find your lack of faith in the navy seals disturbing.
      It that were the case , they would have told us that and then offered an explanation for why it didn’t go as planned.
      your scenario is completely implausable. the last time they shot them they shot a 4 at once. why do you think they lost their competence since then. the seals are not going to start anything wthout a plan to reach sucess. they are not ” lets shoot a few and see what happens ” kind of guys.

      by the way, ar you madelin’s hub?

      1. avatar Martin Albright says:

        I realize that a steady diet of Steven Seagal movies, silly television shows and Navy propaganda could lead one to believe that SEALs are some kind of military supermen who are incapable of making mistakes. However, they are just as human as anyone else, as are those who give them their orders, and as such they are just as capable of making mistakes, both in execution and in judgment.

        As for whether the Navy would be evasive or dissemble about whether this was a rescue mission gone awry, you’re right, of course. I expect the Navy would be every bit as honest and forthcoming as the Army was about the death of Pat Tillman.

  8. avatar James Montgomery says:

    We, as a nation, are neither speaking softly, nor are we toting our big stick. We’re blathering loudly, and acting ashamed of our global military presence.

  9. avatar Steve Kraemer says:

    I agree with the author of the above passage. The on-site commanders SHOULD NOT have to wait for the President’s “green light” to attack those scumbags. They should be able to give their own authorizations for the use of force. There were THREE US warships and the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, right behind that vessel. They had to wait for the President to give the authorization to attack? Too late. The result is four innocent Americans are now dead. We should just send in a squadron of F-18 Hornets to OBLITERATE every Somali pirate hideout, base and safe house. Just send them a FAT warning message…

  10. avatar Gabriel says:

    Perhaps the two pirates found dead aboard were killed when the pirates took the yacht? As for not being there in the first place, that part of the ocean is like an interstate that goes through a bad part of town, as long as you stay on the freeway, things will be ok 99% of the time. I prefer the Jeffersonian solution.

  11. avatar Kevin W says:

    I totally agree with this post. That our citizens abroad should be harassed is a problem that desperately needs to be addressed. However, we must not allow this to compromise our integrity as a nation. If there is a problem on international waters, let it be solved by force. However, as for ” send[ing] in a squadron of F-18 Hornets to OBLITERATE every Somali pirate hideout, base and safe house,” I think that would be far beyond our rights as a sovereign nation. As for waiting for the Navy to arrive, I agree with The 4th. It’s not plausible to expect protection. If you want to be safe, stay at home. You might consider never leaving your house, actually.

  12. avatar homobangbangamus says:

    We have a pissant commie president and government. Don’t be surprised if they don’t hand the accomplices over to the International Court. Several MOABs would flatten Mogadishu and that would solve the problem but we’re not going to do that and besides, we’ve allowed them to amase hundereds of hostages, which was done for this precise reason.

    Say, I wonder. Do you think anyone is making money off of this besides the hostage takers? It would be a sweet deal!

  13. avatar Vericocha says:

    Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps… Lets get some facts first, boys – if we ever CAN – else ur wasting My time AND urs.

    In th interim: TRUTH IS – YES, we’ve become a wimp Nation & need to unleash our Commanders out there. Period. Any more [relevant] questions?

  14. avatar Mike the Limey says:

    The present situation will not improve unless & until Western nations as a whole abandon the fiction that being nice to others is the only way to conduct their affairs.
    “Human rights,” “equality” & “multiculturalism” are yet more symptoms of an ideal overtaken by moral cowards who refuse to make unpleasant decisions affecting others.

    In the case of pirates “gunboat” diplomacy is the ONLY kind needed: There WILL be casualties initially but the hijacking of ships will come to an abrupt halt.

    The only order given to the military commanders should be “stop the pirates,” with no caveats whatsoever as to the how.

  15. avatar Pat Guyton says:

    If you are being boarded, or being attacked at sea in international waters
    you have every right to defend yourself with whatever you have to
    defend yourself with. All vessels in these waters should be armed in
    some way. Many countries will allow you to enter their ports if your
    weapons are locked in a safe, only the master or first mate have a
    key. The safe will be sealed by the port authorities or held until you depart.
    Would a couple of .44 mag pistols or hunting rifles be of any use if attacked?
    I think so.

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