… Thomas Jefferson understood you can not defeat pirates by chasing them one by one around a vast sea. We must either in concert with our allies or unilaterally, if need be, devise a strategy to take the fight to the pirates and re-establish some semblance of order.
Common sense and straight reporting — quite a refreshing combination:
Pentagon press conference right now. It was not a planned assault. What they are saying is that there was an imminent danger to Captain Philips and the on scene commander (I think that’s the commander of USS Bainbridge) gave the order to take the pirates down. Apparently there was an AK pointed at Philips and the commander authorized snipers to take their shots. It was a split section decision.
They had standing authority from the President to take action in the case of an imminent threat to the hostage’s life.
The SEAL snipers were on Bainbridge about 20 meters or so from the life boat and sea conditions were ‘deteriorating’. It sounded like Bainbridge had the life boat under tow at the time.
I’m guessing the early reports of a ‘fire fight’ were somewhat over stated. It seems 3 shots, 3 ex-pirates is more like the case.
As for Obama’s role in this, it seems it was neither heroic nor stupid. This is as it should be. He seems to have given his approval to the military’s requests for authority and then let them do their thing. He did his job, that’s enough for now.
Right now the praise belongs to Capt. Phillips, some kick ass SEAL snipers, CDR Castellano, the men and women of USS Bainbridge and the rest of the military and FBI that provided support on this mission.
The Other, Even More Unhinged Than the One Named John, McCain, gives Ace the contemptuous dressing-down he deserves for writing that Pres. Obama’s handling of this crisis was neither heroic nor stupid. That sounds too much like praise. You just can’t do that and retain your whacked-out far right creds.
John Hinderaker, amazingly (no! no! I know! even for him!) thinks that this crisis should “be a lesson” to Pres. Obama: “The pirate infestation is a sort of farcical echo of the much more serious problem of Islamic terrorism,” he advised the president. Actually, Somali pirates’ motives are largely monetary, not religious or nationalistic. The fact that the country they’re from has not had a functioning government for 17 years does not help.
John is especially eager to show off the results of his stupid lessons today. He adds:
Finally, among the several lessons I hope President Obama will take away from this incident are not only the courage, which Obama appropriately saluted, but also the humility of Captain Phillips, who said:
I’m just the byline. The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home.
I certainly share John’s admiration for Captain Phillips’ courage and humility — actually, I am awed by it. But it’s John who needs a lesson in the value of humility, not Obama. John and his co-bloggers just got through beating up on Obama for suggesting to his European audiences that the United States has sometimes shown an unbecoming lack of humility in its dealings with other nations. So now I suppose we must assume that John is accusing Captain Phillips of putting himself down?
Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the professionalism and skill of those Navy SEALs:
I’m no marksman, but hitting a pirate in the head on a moving platform at 100′ from a moving platform sounds ridiculously difficult. Kudos to the skill of the professionals on board USS Bainbridge.
Matthew Yglesias comments briefly on the larger issue of piracy:
Hopefully this [today’s rescue] will help tamp down some of the pirate-related hysteria of last week. With Somalia in chaos, it’s very hard to really eliminate piracy. And it’s hard to know how Somalia can be made unchaotic. But that situation presumably won’t last forever, and the international community is doing a decent job of bringing force to bear on the problem at sea.
John Cole laughs at “This is Obama’s test” lunacy:
I found the whole notion (as advanced by a few simpletons) that this was somehow a test of Obama to be laughably absurd. Our military budget is a half a trillion dollars a year. If we can not handle a couple pirates without the hands on involvement of the President, we need to just disband the Navy. Is it going to be a test of Obama every time some criminal somewhere takes a hostage?
Andrew Sullivan has the same reaction:
Unquestionably great news, with a few pirates dead to boot. But it does seem important to me that we not go overboard, so to speak, in hyping these incidents. In the grand scheme of things, this is not the most pressing national security issue, and the hyper-ventilating about it is a form of adolescent posturing. Somalia’s chaotic state means more of these incidents will happen; and we need to get a grip when they do.