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Analysis: Pirates put Obama in 21st-century bind

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Everything is everything... Staff Member

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    By Gearan, Ap Military Writer – 2 hrs 35 mins ago

    WASHINGTON – A ragtag band of pirates has put President Barack Obama in a bind: He commands overwhelming firepower in the form of a growing flotilla of U.S. warships, but he doesn't want to use it.

    Thursday's decision to turn to FBI hostage negotiators showed Obama reaching for all of his limited options in the high-seas hostage drama. Negotiators in the United States were communicating with the pirates through a Navy destroyer that shadowed the small lifeboat where four pirates held American cargo ship captain Richard Phillips.

    The president wasn't saying a word about the situation in public, though he dispatched aides to reassure the nation that their government was pressing to free Phillips.

    "These people are nothing more than criminals and we are bringing to bear a number of our assets, including naval and FBI, in order to resolve the hostage situation and bring the pirates to justice," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said while Obama remained silent for a second straight day.

    "Piracy may be a centuries-old problem but we are working to bring an appropriate 21st century response," Clinton said.

    That modern-day response included more warships — a remnant of 20th-century U.S. exceptionalism — as well as high-tech surveillance planes buzzing above the crisis waters.

    In private, however, U.S. officials acknowledged there were way too few to counter a rising scourge of piracy along the lawless Somali coast.

    Even as more Navy ships, including the guided-missile frigate USS Haliburton, arrive near the Horn of Africa, there will be fewer than two dozen international warships patrolling an area nearly five times the size of Texas.

    "It's a big area and you can't be everywhere at once," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Thursday.

    The Obama administration is also considering changes to an international anti-piracy partnership proposed by the Bush administration in its last weeks.

    Outside advisers have recommended expanding the task force mandate to hunt pirate "mother ships" far from shore. These nondescript larger vessels shelter the small speedboats that pirates usually use to quickly close on a commercial ship and scramble aboard.

    "We are looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of what we are doing," Clinton said.

    The top U.N. envoy for Somalia, in Washington for previously scheduled talks, said the piracy problem cannot be resolved until proper governance is restored in the country.

    "This problem is at sea, but the root causes are on land," Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said. He urged U.N. Security Council members to urgently revisit rampant insecurity and instability in Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since 1991.

    "We go after rogue states, why not anarchic states?" he said.

    The International Maritime Bureau and the International Maritime Organization said attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia more than doubled from 2007 to 2008.

    In 2007 there were 263 attacks worldwide with 41 occurring in the Gulf of Aden or the east coast of Somalia. In 2008, there were 293 attacks worldwide, 111 of them in the Gulf of Aden or Somalia's east coast.

    Over $30 million was paid out in ransoms in 2008 alone. The average ransom per successfully hijacked ship is between $1 and $2 million.

    U.S. military and counterterrorism officials are scrutinizing the brazen hijackings for any links to al-Qaida or other militant groups operating in East Africa.

    So far, they see no direct connection between Somali pirates looking for a fast buck and the Islamic extremists looking to attack America or her allies.

    But informal links are there, mired in Somalia's complex and combative clans, where a man can be a pirate one day and traffic in weapons another.

    "I don't see direct connections," Adm. William "Kip" Ward said. "But, again, if you look at the clan structure, the tribes — to think that there may not be linkages probably is a bit naive."

    Ward, who heads the Pentagon's Africa Command, said that in a volatile country like Somalia, it is difficult to tell who is a pirate, who is connected to a terrorist group and who is simply a fisherman, until someone is caught in a criminal act.


    EDITOR'S NOTE — Anne Gearan covers national security for The Associated Press. Pauline Jelinek, Matthew Lee and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

  2. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    Are we going to do this with all pirates, if so its going to bankrupt us faster, or does Obama have a make believe plan to fix that too?
  3. sbark

    sbark Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    they are basically terrorists.......just happen to be on water

    <LI class=article>Petraeus: US will increase presence near pirates

    Thursday, April 09, 2009 8:09:11 PM · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 3 replies · 84+ views BreitBart ^ | Apr 9 02:16 PM US/Eastern | BRIAN SKOLOFF

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The head of the U.S. Central Command says the American military will increase its presence near the Horn of Africa within 48 hours. Gen. David Petraeus spoke in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday as a hostage standoff with pirates continues off Africa. He did not give specifics, but said more ships would be in the area because "we want to ensure that we have all the capability that might be needed over the course of the coming days." Somali pirates tried to hijack the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama on Wednesday, but the crew took...
  4. MetalHead

    MetalHead Benched

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    Pretty much.
  5. MetalHead

    MetalHead Benched

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    I have a plan...see other thread on this subject.
  6. sbark

    sbark Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    [SIZE=+1]U.S. military already prepared with battle plans for Somalia pirates, say intelligence sources[/SIZE]
    New York Daily News ^ | April 9th 2009 | James Gordon Meek

    Posted on Thursday, April 09, 2009 4:15:00 PM by rhema

    U.S. military commanders have already prepared battle plans for ending the scourge of piracy on the high seas off Somalia if President Obama pulls the trigger, sources told the Daily News Wednesday.
    The Navy sent a warship to intercept Somali pirates Wednesday who hijacked a U.S.-flagged freighter, as commanders weighed military options for nailing the brigands' bases.
    Retired U.S. Ambassador Robert Oakley, who was special envoy to Somalia in the 1990s, said U.S. special operations forces have drawn up detailed plans to attack piracy groups where they live on land, but are awaiting orders from the Obama national security team.
    "Our special operations people have been itching to clean them up. So far, no one has let them," Oakley told the Daily News.
    The veteran diplomat, who also was ambassador to Pakistan, said teams of Army Delta Force or Navy SEALs "could take care of the pirates in 72 hours" if given the order to strike. "They have plans on the table but are waiting for the green light," Oakley said.

    (Excerpt) Read more at nydailynews.com ...
  7. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    yes i read that, liked that plan.

    The problem with this, is you have to put yourself in the captains shoes. Now i hope he was assessed of the dangers that come with this position and was detailed on all the possible scenarios that could happen.

    You really really want to be in that situation and be think to yourself, the calvary is coming and ill be back to where i was in a few hours. The reality of the situation is what move do you make? As i said in the other thread, once you begin negotiations, you tell your enemies, kidnap away, we'll work with you. This is a sign of weakness, but hopefully hopefully you get that captain back.

    Its easy to say blow them out of the water, and that would be my direction as well. But there is that human aspect right there.

    This scenario does work, because Christian churches did it. Kidnap a priest, to create a pay day from the money flowing church and you strike it rich. Oppps, we dont deal with kidnappings, and your kidnapping problem drops to low rates.

    How much does all this cost us and do we tell everyone else that gets kidnapped afterwards, we'll do it for you too.

    How many pirates are going to hear of this and go and kidnap our boats? This could turn ugly. But i have hope in Obama that the miracle man can clear it all up.
  8. sacase

    sacase Well-Known Member

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    What's the problem? Law of the Sea allows ship captains to hang them without trial. Just hang them right then and there, no muss no fuss. But of course I am sure the "world" would get mad at us if we did what the law allows.
  9. vta

    vta The Proletariat

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    The double standards that exist for civilized nations...
  10. Jon88

    Jon88 Benched

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    I say we give each Somali pirate leader an IPod or a 25 set DVD collection. Or better yet, let's bow to them. That might work.
  11. Jon88

    Jon88 Benched

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    If Obama is anything like Clinton they'll be held back. He was a ***** with capital letters.
  12. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    I am not so much worried about the World, that flip flops like a fish out of water. The real danger comes from what our country thinks. I said it in a thread a while back, if I am the military I am scared to do anything. Obama and Gates already scaled back on some projects, they could pull more if the Left gets up in arms about what our military is doing out there.
  13. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    Not really.

    They are criminals, yes, but not terrorists unless the money is somehow being funneled into the real terrorists.

    Unlike the madmen out there, they aren't walking around chopping peoples heads off and trying to convert them. They treat the hostages as well as hostages can be treated, they don't really destroy the boats or their cargo, they just want the money.

    If they're terrorists then Madoff is a terrorist and should be executed, not jailed.

    I know the term terrorist has been generalized now, so I can understand why people would say that, but there's a pretty big difference between the two. They've also learned that the best way to keep from having other countries just blow them out of the water is not to harm people.

    Attacking an American vessel was a big mistake however, they've more or less justified any response we give.
  14. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    How do you know they are not terrorists? What definitive proof do you have they are not terrorists? I bet the family of the captain would disagree with you. I bet the family would also approve of water boarding the captured terrorist/pirate if it resulted in info that brought their family member home.
  15. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    Is that the new American motto? Terrorist until proven otherwise?

    Some people are just criminals, if you feel the urge to demand they be terrorists so you can torture them, then feel free.

    I've got some American criminals I'd like tortured as well when you're done.

    For the record, and I'm not sure if I missed part of the story, they know exactly where the Captain is, so I'm not sure why you think torturing the captive would change anything.
  16. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    Why will you not answer the simple question? How do you personally know, without a doubt, these dirt bags have no terrorist ties? Please tell us.

    Or are you just speaking out of your arse again?
  17. JBond

    JBond Well-Known Member

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    So Obama is just to big a puss to go rescue him? Why is he not home already?

    Water boarding is scary, but it is not true torture. My father has told me about some of the ordeals he went through in Vietnam. I have watch the videos of Saddam henchmen torturing people. It is a completely different deal. Of course you are incapable of understanding the difference.
  18. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Backwoods Sexy Staff Member

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    Actually waterboarding is torture, if it were not the US would not have prosecuted others for waterboarding people. But let's not let facts get in the way.

    Others may do worse, but that does not dismiss waterboarding as torture esp when the US has prosecuted people for that very thing in the past.
  19. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    The US has prosecuted peoply wrongly for many things over the years, right Brain?
  20. TheCount

    TheCount Pixel Pusher

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    Careful. I never said I knew without a doubt, allow me to actually quote my own post since you didn't bother to read:

    Again, if your method is to declare everyone a terrorist until proven otherwise, that's your prerogative. I'm not trying to change you.

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