Negotiations break down with pirates over release of hero captain (Update: Captain freed!)

Rick Moran
No melodramatics. Captain Richard Phillips gave himself up so that the other crew members could go free.

He didn't have to. His crew had retaken control of his ship but were still in danger from the heavily armed pirates. Instead of initiating a fire fight that would probably have resulted in many casualties among his crew, the captain agreed to become a hostage so that his crew could steam away safely.

This much we know from the crew of the Maersk Alabama who docked yesterday following their ordeal. What is unknown is what the next step will be following the collapse of talks between elders of a village representing the pirates and the US government:

The pirates — demanding $2 million in ransom — seized Captain Phillips on Wednesday and escaped the cargo ship in a motorized lifeboat. According to a senior military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing talks, Captain Phillips is still alive, and the pirates have put him on the phone roughly once a day.

On Saturday, a group of Somali elders from Gara’ad, mediating on behalf of the pirates, spoke by satellite phone to American officials, according to Abdul Aziz Aw Mahamoud, a district commissioner in the semiautonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia. The elders proposed a deal in which the pirates would release Captain Phillips, with no ransom paid, and that the pirates would then be allowed to escape.

But Mr. Abdul Aziz said that the Americans insisted that the pirates be handed over to Puntland authorities, and the elders refused. By noon local time, the Americans cut off communications with the elders, he said.

Puntland’s president, Abdirahman Mohamed Faroole, said that he was working closely with American officials to free the captain and “we’re really concerned about the recent attacks.’’

That last quote from the president of Puntland could have been spoken by the Governor of Portobello or Cartagena 400 years ago who had about as much control over their pirate infested territory as he does. 

So what now? Victor Davis Hansen:

4) The Obamists better be careful in their serial apologetics, "Bush did it" throat-clearing, and caving to European, Russia, Turkish, etc. agendas. Slowly, but clearly we are establishing a new atmosphere in which the old unpredictability, military preparedness, and deterrence will be lost, replaced by a touchy-feely sort of seminar discussion, laced with atonement, reaction. And then the two-bit pirates who boast "We are not afraid of the Americans" will be the least of our problems.

We saw such extraordinary hand wringing yesterday when I posted about the Obama Administration's reluctance to attack terrorist camps in Somalia (unrelated to the pirates) for fear of what the world would think in attacking a nation we are not at war with. This despite the terrorist connections to al-Qaeda and the fact that there are apparently some Americans who are training there - probably to be infiltrated back into the US to carry out attacks.

And there is also the notion that the Obama Administration will be willing to talk to "moderate" Taliban war lords in Afghanistan. Ask Pakistan how that strategy is working out.
In this case, the Obama Administration was correct to show forebearance - for a few days. Now one has to wonder if the pirates will ever release Captain Phillips alive which means a military response may indeed be necessary and Phillip's only chance at survival.

Will Obama pull the trigger?

UPDATE:

CNN is reporting that Captain Phillips has been freed and that "3 pirates have been killed" with one taken into custody.

No word on how this probable rescue was effected but I would say that Obama has answered the question whether he can pull the trigger or not.


No melodramatics. Captain Richard Phillips gave himself up so that the other crew members could go free.

He didn't have to. His crew had retaken control of his ship but were still in danger from the heavily armed pirates. Instead of initiating a fire fight that would probably have resulted in many casualties among his crew, the captain agreed to become a hostage so that his crew could steam away safely.

This much we know from the crew of the Maersk Alabama who docked yesterday following their ordeal. What is unknown is what the next step will be following the collapse of talks between elders of a village representing the pirates and the US government:

The pirates — demanding $2 million in ransom — seized Captain Phillips on Wednesday and escaped the cargo ship in a motorized lifeboat. According to a senior military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing talks, Captain Phillips is still alive, and the pirates have put him on the phone roughly once a day.

On Saturday, a group of Somali elders from Gara’ad, mediating on behalf of the pirates, spoke by satellite phone to American officials, according to Abdul Aziz Aw Mahamoud, a district commissioner in the semiautonomous region of Puntland in northeastern Somalia. The elders proposed a deal in which the pirates would release Captain Phillips, with no ransom paid, and that the pirates would then be allowed to escape.

But Mr. Abdul Aziz said that the Americans insisted that the pirates be handed over to Puntland authorities, and the elders refused. By noon local time, the Americans cut off communications with the elders, he said.

Puntland’s president, Abdirahman Mohamed Faroole, said that he was working closely with American officials to free the captain and “we’re really concerned about the recent attacks.’’

That last quote from the president of Puntland could have been spoken by the Governor of Portobello or Cartagena 400 years ago who had about as much control over their pirate infested territory as he does. 

So what now? Victor Davis Hansen:

4) The Obamists better be careful in their serial apologetics, "Bush did it" throat-clearing, and caving to European, Russia, Turkish, etc. agendas. Slowly, but clearly we are establishing a new atmosphere in which the old unpredictability, military preparedness, and deterrence will be lost, replaced by a touchy-feely sort of seminar discussion, laced with atonement, reaction. And then the two-bit pirates who boast "We are not afraid of the Americans" will be the least of our problems.

We saw such extraordinary hand wringing yesterday when I posted about the Obama Administration's reluctance to attack terrorist camps in Somalia (unrelated to the pirates) for fear of what the world would think in attacking a nation we are not at war with. This despite the terrorist connections to al-Qaeda and the fact that there are apparently some Americans who are training there - probably to be infiltrated back into the US to carry out attacks.

And there is also the notion that the Obama Administration will be willing to talk to "moderate" Taliban war lords in Afghanistan. Ask Pakistan how that strategy is working out.
In this case, the Obama Administration was correct to show forebearance - for a few days. Now one has to wonder if the pirates will ever release Captain Phillips alive which means a military response may indeed be necessary and Phillip's only chance at survival.

Will Obama pull the trigger?

UPDATE:

CNN is reporting that Captain Phillips has been freed and that "3 pirates have been killed" with one taken into custody.

No word on how this probable rescue was effected but I would say that Obama has answered the question whether he can pull the trigger or not.