Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama’s & Gates’ Piracy Comments Today

From Agence France Presse in plain text with my comments interspersed in italics and bracketed- - -

The Somali pirates who took a US merchant captain hostage for five days were heavily armed but inexperienced youths, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday, adding that the hijackers were aged 17 to 19.

The pirates who kidnapped Captain Richard Phillips, three of whom were killed by US Navy snipers Sunday, were "untrained teenagers with heavy weapons," Gates told a group of 30 students and faculty members at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia.

( The “teenagers,” if that’s what they were, were old enough to engage in piracy, take Captain Phillips hostage, and kill him with their AK-47s. )

"There is no purely military solution to" piracy in the region, he added.

(There was no purely military solution to defeating the Axis in WW II, either. But as with the Axis, so with the pirates: they won’t be stopped unless and until decisive use is made of military force.)

"As long as you've got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there's really no way in my view to control it unless you get something on land that begins to change the equation for these kids."

(Gates needs to give “these kids” more credit. They understood “the equation” was beginning “to change” as soon as they heard three pirates had been shot dead. I'm confident the "kids" also know the change wasn't in their favor. )

A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Gates' quotes, which were first reported in the American Forces Press Service.

(How sad. I was hoping Gates was misquoted or his remarks taken so out of context as to mispresent what he actually meant. I still hope so.

On the other hand, if he really said and meant what’s being attributed to him, I hope he considers resigning his current post and instead heads up a Peace Corp project in Somalia.

BTW – Did Gates today say anything about the splendid service of all the teenagers serving in the Navy and other branches of the U. S. military?)

President Barack Obama on Monday said the United States was resolved to hold those who prey on merchant shipping accountable.

Earlier, he pledged to combat the rise of piracy off the coast of Somalia, after naval forces rescued Phillips from the small lifeboat where he was being held, surrounded by US warships.

"We remain resolved to halt the rise of piracy in this region," said Obama.

( The overwhelming majority of Americans will back President Obama on that. So will civlized people in other nations.)

"To achieve that goal, we must continue to work with our partners to prevent future attacks, be prepared to interdict acts of piracy and ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes."

( I think Obama’s words are just right. My fingers are crossed he’ll put them into action. This is no time to wobble. That would only flash a big, green light to the pirates when we want them thinking about those 3 dead “teenagers.”)

The rest of AFP’s story’s here.


Locomotive Breath said...

"the risks are relatively small"

They just got bigger. Let's make them unacceptably big.

Anonymous said...

To talk of pirates as "teenagers" in an attempt to empathize with them, as Gates is doing, shows how out of touch he is. There is nothing more dangerous than a teenager with raging hormones inside and peer pressure outside. Add to that equation an AK-47 or and RPG and you've got a Frankenstein monster-like creature.
I've got a news flash for our esteemed SecDef: these pirates aren't underprivileged young thugs from the 'hood in LA. They're Islamic terrorists who have been raised in the belief they must slay all non-believers to guarantee their share of the "virgins" in Islamic paradise.
JinC's suggestion that Gates resign his cabinet post and volunteer for the Peace Corps is spot on!
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

These untrained teenagers sure are making a good living from the Piracy gig. Without any training they managed to get guns, a boat, to board a ship and take a hostage.

Imagine what they can do with a little more experience and trainging? I'd sugest not letting them get that extra experience and training.

Scott S.

Anonymous said...

Though they may be "kids" in the western sense, they are not kids in the great majority of the world where teenagers have achieved adulthood status and are expected to conduct themselves in adult ways. The biggest mistake thatcould be made is to view the pirate in US custody as a teenager andt to think that he can be "rehabilitated". My question would be rehabilitated to what? He needs to be made an example of - a public execution that would be broadcast on Somali television (and the rest of the Arab world) might just change the view of some in that region that the US is a pushover. I think that if anything, with a president who comes from an African heritage wnd who has Muslim ancestors, it would put the leadership of amny of teh Arab nations in an awkward position to be criticizing what is (at elast right now) a popular president both within the US and abroad. Given the number of Europeans that are currently being held hostage by Somali pirates and the demand that their governments do something (the reason why the French took it upon themselves to act in the not so distant past) could very well find tough action by the US a relief and at the same time a spur to their own governemnts to act boldly as well.

RebeccaH said...

Is Mr. Gates aware that Africa is notorious for child soldiers, some as young as nine or ten? They are every bit as lethal as adults, maybe more so. If Mr. Gates is not aware, then he is hopelessly ignorant and unqualified for his job.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, going to Somalia as a humanitarian aid worker is a really good way to wind up dead -- there are dozens of people who you can no longer ask about this, just in the past year.

Anonymous said...

Years and years ago, I recall quite a bit of global initiatives to help that nation from its impoverish state. Do you guys remember a starving child laying on the ground, sick, frail and delicate seeking for help? It's always televised and as always it touched our hearts and even drove us to assist immediately. A lot of nations pulled together to help them out ONLY to get bitten back with all these savage attacks. I am bitter and sadden about all this. If you were one of those who contributed to save that nation before, the same child you saved maybe one of those pirates...quite a possibility. I guess it's petty to have my kind of perspective but none of these acts make total sense to me especially when progressive nations like US make it a point to send aid to these less fortunate nations.