There are 300 million opinions on this, and that is just in the US.
Here is the take by Mr Bill Lind: "A Barometer of Order." I think that Mr Lind makes a good point that piracy—raw capitalism, "red in tooth and claw"—is an indicator of general world order. And, he makes a good point about it being seen as a problem since the days Rome ruled the waves.
The other thing Mr Lind's article does is satisfy our desire to wade in with both guns blazing. Unfortunately, that is not a good solution.
In the immediate situation we want Captain Richard Phillips back safe and sound. At some point the pirates will run out of food (although a report I read said the lifeboat was stocked for 38 people for ten days. That sounds like about 70 days of food, assuming they are careful and not worried about kosher cooking. But, the pirates are not about Wahhabist Islam but about making money. They may well be prepared to negotiate. We want Captain Phillips back.
Then there is the long range issue. What do we do to deter further such attacks?
A good first step is to ask if this is our problem? It is to the extent that we depend upon ocean shipping for our international trade. On the other hand, we have been immune to this problem in that we don't have that many US flagged ships out there to be attacked. The Dayton Daily News has this quote:
Douglas J. Mavrinac, the head of maritime research at investment firm Jefferies & Co, estimates that only about 5 percent of ships sailing in international waters fly a U.S. flag.This ship was US flagged because it was carrying cargo for the US Federal Government—as required by the contract.
OK, so it is 95% someone else's problem. How many are voting for the US to step back and let someone else take the lead for once?
If we take the lead, we have to then ask ourselves what we want to do. We could go in and level the home base, but as kad barma pointed out so long ago I probably can't find it, a lot of those people are just fishermen. If we act, we will be judged, so we want to show some prudence.
Then there is the question of if we want to try these folks in court. The British Foreign Office (read State Department) has warned the Royal Navy to not capture any of these folks, for fear they will then demand political asylum. Such is the modern world, per historian Sir John Keegan, OBE, writing in the Sunday Telegraph. Sir John wants to hunt down the pirates and sink their ships on sight. This goes along with the old fashioned view that pirates are hanged without a trial.
Of course that all comes out as Westerners oppressing Muslims.
The perfect plan would be to loan the Saudi Arabians three of our LCS platforms and let them do the job. That isn't going to happen, so we will have to continue to patrol and slowly whittle away at the problem.
One last thought, before you second-guess the US Navy Captain of the USS BAINBRIDGE, remember, he is being second-guessed by experts in Washington. And, if he doesn't follow their advice he is on his own.
This is a problem with no simple solutions, although I would like to just strafe the pirate home base myself. Isn't going to happen and wouldn't work anyway.
One last thought. Some tout this as a test of President Obama. I don't think so. This does not rise to the level of the President and we shouldn't try to make it do so. This is a problem for DoD and DoS.
UPDATE I changed hung to hanged. Thanks to $Bill. He also pointed out that I used "since" when I should have said "because." Also, I corrected the spelling of "following." And, I put an "ing" on carry.
The good news update is that we have Captain Phillips back.
Regards — Cliff