Our Secretary of State cackles about the Somali pirates, and our President refuses to answer any questions about the four-day standoff over the hostage captain of the Maersk Alabama. And while we have warships at the scene, so far they seem to be keeping their distance.
So now the AP reports that Somali pirates have hijacked a US-owned, Italian-flagged tugboat with a crew of 16 aboard.
I’m starting to get really worried. While I have every confidence that, given the right political guidance, the Navy and Marines could sort this out in very short order, it’s the apparent return to our pre-9/11 mentality that is scaring me.
Changing gears slightly, my friend John in Carolina ignited a blog brushfire over our shared dismay at the MSM’s seeming unwillingness to call out Obama and Biden when they, shall we say, stretch the truth. Scott Johnson at Power Line, over the bow to the king of Saudi Arabia:
Why the lying? Perhaps Obama realizes he made a mistake. As the American head of state, protocol dictates that president does not bow to royalty. Yet Obama holds himself out as a sophisticate and cosmopolitan. His ignorance of the governing protocol is both a personal and national embarrassment. The Office of Chief of Protocol apparently remains unfilled by an appointee. Is it better to lie than to admit a mistake?
Perhaps admitting that the bow was a mistake would be an insult to the King of Saudi Arabia. Yet even his Muslim subjects don't bow to him. It's hard to see how the frank confession of error would cause offense….
Obama's bow may signify something like his clueless compulsion to prostrate himself before the Islamic world….
Maybe. We’ll know more when we see what Obama eventually does about the Somali pirates. Meanwhile, Mackubin Thomas Owens gets the last word for today:
…the various new substitutes for "unlawful enemy combatant" abolish an important distinction in traditional international law. As the eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard argued shortly after 9/11, the status of al Qaeda terrorists is to be found in a distinction first made by the Romans and subsequently incorporated into international law by way of medieval and early modern European jurisprudence. According to Mr. Howard, the Romans distinguished between bellum (war against legitimus hostis, a legitimate enemy) and guerra (war against latrunculi, pirates, robbers, brigands and outlaws).
Bellum became the standard for interstate conflict, and it is here that the Geneva Conventions were meant to apply. They do not apply to guerra. Indeed, punishment for latrunculi, "the common enemies of mankind," traditionally has been summary execution.
Though they don't often employ the term, many legal experts agree that al Qaeda fighters are latrunculi -- hardly distinguishable by their actions from pirates and the like.
Robert Kogod Goldman, an American University law professor has commented: "I think under any standard, the captured al Qaeda fighters simply do not meet the minimum standards set out to be considered prisoners of war." And according to Marc Cogen, a professor of international law at Ghent University in Belgium, "no 'terrorist organization' thus far has been deemed a combatant under the laws of armed conflict."
Thus al Qaeda members "can be punished for all hostile acts, including the killing of soldiers, because they have no right to participate directly in hostilities." But the Obama administration is about to extend legal rights -- intended to protect civilians -- to the very latrunculi who want to blow them up by considering the possibility of trying them in U.S. courts. Indeed, Attorney General Holder did not rule out trying the Somali pirates….