Sunday, April 12, 2009

Maersk Alabama's captain, Richard Phillips: Free

It sounds like the Maersk Alabama's captain, Richard Phillips, is free, alive, and on an American warship.

A BBC article's first two paragraphs are, technically, accurate:

"The captain of a US container ship taken hostage by Somali pirates has been released, the US Navy has said.

"According to initial reports, three pirates were killed in the operation to free Captain Richard Phillips. Another is in custody...." (BBC)

One of the meanings of "release" is "the act of liberating someone or something" (Princeton WordNet). Technically, Captain Phillips was released: by the American military.

'Diplomacy' is Nice - So are Results

I approve of negotiation. Talking out issues and coming to a mutually acceptable agreement is a good thing.

Sometimes that's not possible.

In this case, the pirates wanted around $2,000,000 ransom for Captain Phillips. The people Captain Phillips worked for - and America - weren't about to pay that. For starters, paying kidnappers for abducting people is not a good way to discourage such behavior.

The pirates wouldn't budge, Somali elders "refused the arrest of the pirates," and the Americans insisted that they wanted Captain Phillips back.

"...'The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates,' said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans...." (AP)

Those Big, Rough Americans

With the proper direction, talks with the pirates, Somali elders and commissioners, Americans, and anyone else who wanted to join in, could have gone on for months. Maybe years.

Instead, American forces freed Captain Phillips, unharmed, and arrested one pirate. Three others were killed. I'd have preferred to hear that it was four captured pirates: but that sort of thing is a foreseeable outcome for people who take hostages and defy a military force.

Captain Phillips is Free, the Maersk Alabama Brought Food to Somalia

I'm sorry that there was loss of life. That's regrettable. But, the pirates chose to fight.

Perhaps the pirates miscalculated. The America they defied was not an America which avoids conflict at any cost, and will negotiate until issues become moot.

Related posts: News and views:

4 comments:

USpace said...

.
Great post, fantastic news! YEY!.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
don't destroy pirates' bases

pity the poor pirates
let them thrive and fester
.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

USpace,

Thanks for the good words. This is certainly not the outcome I thought most likely.

Destroying the actual bases of the Somali pirates will not, I think, be so simple. They are, I understand, towns and villages in Somalia. As easy and direct as it might seem to simply burn the places with the people inside: that's not the way America works (Code Pink notwithstanding).

Even the incident at My Lai, that interminably reiterated icon of the Vietnam War was, under the hype, a situation where a Vietcong munitions depot doubled as a village, and the villagers were, for the most part, Vietcong or Vietcong sympathizers.

Shane at Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty,LLC said...

"I'm sorry that there was loss of life. That's regrettable. But, the pirates chose to fight."

I agree with this. Loss of life is sad but for gosh sakes, these are people who had the free will to choose to become pirates.

Amen all is well with our ship but what about the others?

Something must be done.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Shane at Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty,LLC,

"Something must be done."

Agreed. Exactly what is the question. Whatever is done, my guess is that this will be resolved more quickly than the Barbary Pirates situation, a few centuries back.

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