One of the heads of a WSJ editorial today leaves no doubt about what the editors think:
American alive, pirates dead, let's hope more to followThe editorial begins - - -
The Easter Sunday rescue of cargo ship Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates is a tribute to his personal bravery and the skill and steel nerves of the U.S. Navy.
Now the Obama Administration has an obligation to punish and deter these lawless raiders so they'll never again risk taking a U.S.-flagged ship or an American crew.
The story of Captain Phillips and the Maersk Alabama is full of the kind of divine providence or good luck that can't always be counted on. Not every merchant marine vessel will have a crew that fights back against armed raiders, or a captain willing to trade his own safety for that of his crew.
It's also fortunate the U.S. Navy arrived before the pirates could make it back to land, where they would have been much harder to track down.
We can be grateful that the pirates exposed themselves long enough for U.S. Special Forces to shoot and kill three of them and free Captain Phillips.
Any such rescue carries risks, as we saw when a passenger was killed during the weekend French rescue of a pirated pleasure boat off Somalia. Patience was rewarded in the U.S. case, but also so was preparation and the willingness to act when Navy officials say Captain Phillips appeared to be in "imminent danger."
White House and Navy officials say President Obama had issued a general authorization to use force in these circumstances, and that is to his credit. With all the world watching, the U.S. Navy couldn't afford to be long stymied by sea-faring kidnappers.
No doubt Mr. Obama would have been criticized in some quarters -- though not by us --had Captain Phillips been killed once the order was given to shoot the pirates. But that is the kind of decision that has to be left with commanders on the spot. The pirates made themselves potential targets of deadly force under the law of the sea the second they took Captain Phillips hostage.
A fourth pirate was captured, and we hope the Justice Department tries him under U.S. laws rather than transfer him to Kenyan control. Better still if he's transferred to Guantanamo and held as an "enemy combatant," or whatever the Obama Administration prefers to call terrorists. ...
The rest of the editorial’s here.
Before getting to the editorial I want to thank all of you who’ve commented on the piracy, the rescue, etc. Your comments are an excellent example of the worthwhile “conversations” the Net makes possible. You gave me, others and yourselves plenty to think about.
After I read John Keegan’s DT column, my first thoughts were: this is so informed and thoughtful, so like Keegan, and so like much that’s being said by the commenters.
Now to the editorial - - -
With one exception, the portions I’ve posted here reflect my thinking.
The exception – that President Obama would have taken heat had Captain Phillips been killed.
I doubt Obama would’ve come in for much criticism although there would surely have been plenty of second guessing from “the harpies on the shore.” (read MSM)
But the people who’d have taken the heat were the military personal most directly involved in the rescue attempt, with the Captain of the Bainbridge a particular target of the harpies.
Other than the exception I’ve just noted, I applaud the WSJ for a clear, sensible, unapologetic summery of what was at stake and why the U. S. needed to act as it did.
I’ve said enough. Now it’s your turn.