Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Pirate Standoff Continues

Yesterday, as I got ready to leave work, I thought the pirate attack on the U.S. cargo ship off the coast of Somalia was pretty much over. The crew had fought back, disabled the ship, and even was rumored to have captured one of the pirates. The other 3 or 4, I believed, had gone over the side with their tails between their legs. Even One Ring, not known for patriotic furvor, joked, "Don't mess with the U.S.!" And I was feeling very proud of our merchant marines. I still am.

But now it has become apparent that while the pirates did go over the side in a life boat, they took the captain of the Maersk Alabama with them. The USS Bainbridge, a destroyer, is on location now, and the FBI hostage rescue team and hostage negotiators are also working to free Captain Richard Phillips. Here's the latest from the AP wire.

Unless the pirates are incredibly stupid, desperate (which is possible), or suicidal (again, possible), Capt. Phillips should be okay. The problem is, though, that no matter how this standoff ends, the piracy situation is unlikely to change. There are only 20 warships in the waters around Somalia, an area 5 times the size of Texas. Clearly a much larger force is needed. Furthermore, Somalia has not had a working government since the early '90s, and the last time we tried to fix that, we ended up in the famous Blackhawk Down scenario.

So if you're of a mind, keep the Captain, his crew, and his family in your thoughts and prayers. Hopefully this situation will be worked out, both in the short and long terms.

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