Monday, April 13, 2009
The ability of Navy sharpshooters to take out three pirates on a bobbing lifeboat, while sparing the life of their hostage, could be seen as further evidence of Barack Obama's charmed life. The president has avoided what could have turned into a tragedy or at least an embarrassing stand-off, and turned it into a triumph, while demonstrating that he has the resolve to use military force when necessary.
The pirates' threats of further violence against the United States will probably help the new administration politically. Pirates can cause a lot of shipping losses, and even some lives, but they cannot seriously expect to win a war with the United States Navy. Taking on pirates may do for Obama something like what invading Grenada did for Ronald Reagan. It makes him look tough without much risk. Meanwhile these pirate attacks have drawn attention to a political problem in Somalia, that the new administration can play a constructive role in resolving. They have also encouraged the world's navies to provide better protection to shipping lanes.