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Feckless inaction on piracy off Somalia coast

The Obama administration put out a disturbingly weak statement last week after the latest piracy outrage off the coast of Somalia. Four Americans vacationing on a 58-foot yacht died during a standoff between a U.S. warship and the pirate crew that seized their vessel.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the act deplorable, which it was, but what did she urge? More “decisive action” by the “international community,” which has been largely ineffective so far.

The U.N. Security Council adopted an anti-piracy measure more than two years ago. It created a 28-nation entity to deal with the problem and permitted attacks on the pirates’ land bases.

Certainly when Americans are endangered, Washington shouldn’t wait for the United Nations to engage in “decisive action.” That said, the problem is a knotty one because some authorities believe the pirates could be holding several hundred hostages awaiting ransom at their land bases.

Several nations have warships patrolling the area, but as is usual with U.N. efforts there’s little coordination.

Even so, pirate gangs operate at sea from small vessels served by “mother ships.” In the case of the slain Americans, the mother ship was believed to be a Yemeni fishing boat.

The Navy would begin sending the right message if it began interdicting suspected pirate vessels and sinking them if they refuse to surrender. Any pirates captured should be held for trial.

The East Africa piracy problem has festered far too long, mainly because the “international community” has chosen to do nothing effective about it ― inaction that has endangered the lives of innocent travelers.

(The Kansas City Star, March 1)
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