Attack the pirates: fight fire with fire

Capt. Richard Phillips, an unusually brave and resolute man, was freed Sunday from his pirate captors off the coast of the Horn of Africa by Navy Seals who killed his three captors.
Capt. Phillips had offered himself six days ago as a hostage to the pirates so that they would leave his ship and let it proceed with its unharmed crew.
The pirates escaped in an enclosed lifeboat 18 feet long with limited food and water supplies and became an oven under a broiling sun. At one point he jumped overboard to swim to shore but was recaptured by the heavily armed thugs. Three Navy ships kept the lifeboat under guard and prevented it from going ashore, giving the Seals time to plan and execute their rescue mission.
News stories of the daring rescue did not go into detail. They did report, however, that the captured pirate, who surrendered earlier to seek medical aid, said he was disappointed that his fellow marauders had not killed Phillips before they were killed.
At the present time pirates in Somalia are holding about 12 ships with more than 200 crew members hostage while ransom negotiations continue. The hostages come from more than 10 nations, including Bulgaria, China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, the Philippines, Russia, Tuvalu, Ukraine and Taiwan.
Those captives are now in danger of being killed to revenge the deaths of the three slain pirates.
Rather than continue to pay multi-million-dollar ransoms to free hostages and recover ships and cargoes, Sunday’s events should be the signal to use whatever force it takes to move in and end the threat.
It should be clear by now that paying huge ransoms only encourages further piracy. Young men with weapons in lawless Somalia have no legitimate way to earn more than a subsistence living. Their own government is powerless to control them, to capture them or to punish them for their crimes.
The nations that send ships through that huge expanse of ocean have found no affordable, effective way to protect them from being captured, but, by acting together in concert with the navies of China, France, Japan and the United States they surely could effect the release of the current hostages and ships and, in the process, capture and imprison enough pirates to end the threat.
If piracy became a certain ticket to prison or death it would end. If ever there was a time to fight fire with fire, this is it.

— Emerson Lynn, jr