"Somali pirates promised retaliation after Navy SEALs dispatched three of their fellow jihadists and freed Capital Richard Phillips this weekend. According to a British media report, the pirates have acted on that threat, hijacking four ships and firing on a fifth in the past 24 hours. They have upped the ante. How will we respond? Ralph Peters, a former Army Intelligence officer, offers a few suggestions in a column today entitled, “The Audacity of Rope.” Here are some excerpts of his column:
…This weekend’s success won’t be enough to keep our merchant mariners and cargo ships safe. Somali pirate gangs have already threatened retaliation against third-party captives. (We’ll see what they do.) And all Somalis believe that the United States lacks strength of will and staying power. They remember President Bill Clinton’s cowardly retreat from Mogadishu. They’ll expect a replay from President Obama.
…Will our president behave as Clinton did with al Qaeda, simply hoping the problem will disappear?
…It’s time for real audacity, Mr. President. But this one takes rope, not hope. Pirates must hang. …Deadly force should always be authorized against pirates. These aren’t shoplifters at K-Mart. We’re dealing with murderous terrorists. Can’t we please be serious?
Piracy is not a law-enforcement problem. It’s a military problem. Always has been. And retribution can’t be “proportional,” a tit-for-tat tap. Pirates and their supporters must be punished fiercely and comprehensively. What should we do?
* Attack their harbors with land, sea and air power. Kill pirates, sink their vessels (including those dual-use fishing boats) and wreck their support infrastructure. …The price for piracy should be stunning. …We could shatter these bands of pirates, if we had the guts. But Obama would have to stop campaigning and start leading. He might even have to do something that his foreign fans wouldn’t like. The next move is yours, Mr. President."
* Congress must forbid any shipping company or maritime insurer that pays pirates a ransom from doing business in American ports. …
* Train and arm crews. This would help somewhat, but we need to have realistic expectations. …We can’t fix this problem on the cheap by giving merchant sailors a few shotguns and rifles -- although they need such arms for self-defense. Again, this is a military problem.
Campaign for Working Families