Like a six lane highway funneling down to two, the traffic jam of hot spots awaiting PEBO (Prez-elect Barack Obama) after inauguration is approaching critical mass. As “that one” deftly dodges any appearance of supporting either Israel or Hamas in the ongoing Gaza conflict consuming the daily news, the future Commander in Chief may find himself being pressured to use more extensive military force against the still proactive Somalian pirates off the East African coast.
All the typical check list items are in play. UN Security Council approved? Check. Back in October 2008, the SC authorized foreign navies and aircraft to use force against pirates seizing vessels… all within LOST regulations, of course. The resolution was submitted by the French, and unaminously approved.
Evidently air and sea power wasn’t enough. And in response to a UN Somalian representative’s description of his country’s problems, the SC expanded their blessings this month for what may turn out to be a chaotic war on the pirates … now allowing the individual nations’ pursuit to go ashore, within Somalia, where the pirates operate.
In other words… the Security Council has just okayed any and every willing and able country to wage war on the sea thugs… at sea, in the air, and with boots on the ground. And as far as I can see, there is no coalition organization to such operations.
Andrew Miga’s AP story today describes Sen. John Kerry’s recommendations on the Somalian pirates… calling the action long over due, but urging caution.
Nearly 40 years later, as incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry favors using hot pursuit against pirates in the waters off Somalia, but urges a cautious approach before U.S officials consider sending American forces to chase them ashore. Kerry plans committee hearings next year looking at the problems posed by piracy.
The Massachusetts Democrat, who was on President-elect Barack Obama’s short list to be secretary of state, said a hot pursuit policy on Somalia’s coastline is “long overdue.” But he warns against any “haphazard, sloppy” military missions.
“You gotta know what you’re getting into and where you’re going and under what circumstances,” Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I mean, if you send five police officers raging into the center of Mogadishu, you are asking for trouble. You gotta be smart.”~~~
The resolution could set the stage for increased American military action in Somalia, a chaotic country where a U.S. peacekeeping mission in 1992-93 ended with a humiliating withdrawal of troops after a deadly clash in Mogadishu. The movie “Black Hawk Down” portrayed the ill-fated operation.
The senator said he was mindful of the dangers of hot pursuit cases, particularly given his Vietnam experience and his work as a longtime member of the Foreign Relations panel.
“If you’ve just got one patrol boat and it chases guys in and people go ashore without enough firepower, without knowing what they’re up against, you can get into a lot of trouble,” Kerry said.
Our own Scott Malenski has been posting on the US tangles with the pirates. But with the recent Security Council resolution, and hawkish utterings coming from traditionally anti-war Congressional types like Kerry, I suspect Somalia may be a “national interest” presented to the new CIC not long after his coronation…. er, inauguration.
Comes now a lesson from an unlikely source – the New Europe weekly publication. In a somewhat scathing op-ed (towards the US and the EU) back in Sept 2008 called Lessons in gunboat diplomacy coming for Somali’s pirates, they speak of the pirates being emboldened by the reluctance of any military to follow these mercenaries – out for bounty and bootie instead of ideology – to their nest.
When seafaring bands of brigands who patrol the coast off Somalia in speedboats and raid and plunder passing ships with impunity, because the United States and Europe have been too timid to go after them, boarded a Ukrainian freighter, they found what they must have thought was a bonanza: 33 Russian tanks, the mother lode of a USD 30 million haul that included grenade launchers and piles of ammunition they can now sell or use against more ships who are defenceless because almost nobody will stop them.~~~
The pirates have been emboldened by reluctance on the part of the world to follow them wherever they are. These are not suicide bombers or political fanatics, people who don’t care if they die. They are thieves who want to live to spend their bounty and, faced with the prospect of returning live hostages or killing everyone on board, they’ve probably figured out that would include them and that it’s cheaper to return the boats and hostages and live. Putin wouldn’t care if the crew died anyway because he wants the tanks.~~~
They work the heavily-traveled waters of the Gulf of Aden, where there is a multi-national fleet of warships patrolling. Of course, they can’t use their guns because of political reasons, but if they were allowed to open fire, this nonsense would stop. Pirates aren’t stupid and they can figure out that if one of their little raiding parties gets blown out of the water with 100-millitre guns and cannons that they can look for a safer and more profitable line of work that allows stealing without any risk of being caught, or shot. Like politics.
Back when this was written, the 1st of the two UN resolutions had not yet been passed. This, however, did not stop Putin… who sent a Russian warship to the area the day after pirates seized his cargo of tanks, grenade launchers and ammo.
Another “hell no, we won’t go” type turned out to be France’s Nicolas Sarkozy – who sent commandos instead of Euros when the pirates seized a yacht.
That was then… and now, two UN resolutions later, the “go ahead” for all out military action has been signaled. And as the New Europe op-ed states:
None of this would have been necessary if European countries had simply gone after the pirates long ago, pointed a gun boat in their direction and asked, “How are you going to get off that boat?”
Now what remains to be seen is what a President Obama will do about Somalia… a place that is intrinsically tied to AQ and affiliate strongholds, and a haven for any global Islamic jihad movement in need.
If he can’t even speak out against Hamas, lobbing missiles at Israel and breaking a ceasefire, for fear of lessening his goodwill amongst Arabs and Muslim leadership, how will he deal with the Somalia piracy? Especially since there will be many of his own party, turning into “warmongers”.
Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.