As a young Nation, one of our earliest challenges was piracy; sanctioned by foreign governments and unsanctioned criminals. The War of 1812 came about largely because the Royal Navy of Britain was boarding our ships, kidnapping sailors and "impressing" them into service. Separately, pirates were plundering our ships and taking hostages off the coast of Africa.
We were not the only target and the powers of the day decided to take the easy route: paying ransom. It was a lucrative business and the story is nearly the same today, and again, off the coast of Africa. As has become increasingly apparent over the last few days, the pirates have been paid off to the tune of $3 Million a ship. Clearly less than the cost of the ships and the cargos themselves, not to mention the value of the lives of the crew aboard.
When push comes to shove, Americans push back. Reach out an open hand and Americans will embrace you in friendship, give you a hand up, and even offer you food, as is the case with the Maersk Alabama which was delivering aid to Kenya. Push, Shove, and Demand with a closed fist and even our Merchant Sailors will shove back. It happened aboard the Maersk Alabama and it happened on the Barbary Coast, on the shores of Tripoli.
Sadly, Thomas Jefferson no longer presides over this government. The success of his strategy has been broken. After two centuries of pirates avoiding attacks on US Flagged vessels, they've been emboldened by the perception of weakness.
They afforded our new CinC a tremendous opportunity to prove himself. Twenty unarmed civilians fought off the armed pirates, capturing one. With half the Navy we had in 1992 and cuts slated in the near future, our warships cannot be everywhere. It took some time to arrive at the scene, but the USS Bainbridge arrived ready. It was joined by more warships. Updated with video of Navy cutbacks:
By the time they got there, the pirates had been reduced to a lifeboat nearly out of gas, a single hostage, and a total of three bad guys, perhaps four following their reneging on negotiations. We have a warship and crew to two pirate ratio. The bad guys had lost the iniative. Soon, we'll have a warship per pirate on the scene.
But we have failed Captain Phillips. In the history of hostage negotiations, the only possible better
hostage we could ask for would be Steven Seagal, but it's easier to win, when it's in the script. Captain Phillips has trained his crew. He has led the crew against an armed attack. He has agreed to be the hostage to separate the pirates from their leverage. He has escaped the pirates.
Some of this occurred without the US Navy to help. But much of this happened in the sights of Our Sailors. But instead of sending in the Marines or the SeALs, the CinC sent in FBI Agents, to talk. When the pirates were shooting at the escaping Captain, all our Marine Snipers needed was a "go" to take out the threat to the Captain's life.
The latest word is that the pirates are expecting re-inforcements. They've threatened to kill the Captain. If the pirate ship gets within 10 miles of that lifeboat floating on the high seas, it is a failure of the CinC. Standing orders should be: if the ship approaches within 50 miles, sink it. Outside of ear shot of the lifeboat.
About now, that lifeboat should be full of water. A small hole should have been drilled within hours of our ships arrival, just large enough to slowly fill the boat. Negotiations? Sure, I'd negotiate: "Surrender now and I'll allow you a fair trial, followed by life behind bars." Brandish a weapon and I'll order a round of 7.62x51 mm to your Brain Housing Group.
A standoff is the loss of initiative by both sides. With mulitple warships, a single hostage motivated to fight back, and three or four pirates languishing in a fuelless lifeboat in the middle of the high seas, there is no reason for ransoms to be paid. There is no reason for the standoff to continue. There is no reason that we have not regained the initiative.
And if these pirates get away, particularly if they get their ransom, Biden's prediction that Obama would fail his challenge will again be proven. Prophet Biden has struck again.
And no, I'm not convinced there are no ties between piracy and terrorism. Al-Qaeda started this war in Somalia. Terrorists regularly fund their actions with criminal activities. Though, we've not seen direct proof, there is reason to explore connections between the pirates and terrorists.