In the last week, Somali pirates have killed four Americans, sparking renewed demands that the U.S. take more aggressive action against the oceanic outlaws. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson got fed up with pirates along the Barbary coast and sent the Navy to bomb Tripoli, says Jeffrey Gettleman at The New York Times. Is it time for the U.S. to once again stamp out piracy by force?
Yes, send in the Navy: The pirates have murdered Americans, says the Peoria, Ill., Journal Star in an editorial, and fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. Navy ship. These are acts of war. The Obama administration should give our warships a freer hand to "take down pirates" whenever they can. Otherwise these villains will take more lives with their "take-no-prisoners attitude."
"Time to return the favor to pirates who wage war on Americans?"
Put marshals on merchant ships: The U.S. has gone soft on pirates, says Amitai Etzioni at CNN. Instead of treating them like the armed combatants they are, we approach them with what's been called a "catch-and-release philosophy that's usually reserved for trout." The U.S. should put armed marshals on merchant ships and authorize them to "shoot to kill" if pirates try to board.
"Shoot pirates on sight?"
Force alone will not be enough: "Ending Somali piracy is not a purely naval operation," says John Campbell at the Council on Foreign Relations. We have to fight corruption in the parts of Somalia where these bandits thrive, and foster economic development so more people will be able to make an honest living instead of turning to lucrative piracy careers. We'd also have to capture the "fat-cat ringleaders" who run what has evolved from a "mom-and-pop" operation into an "international criminal organization."
"Fighting Somalia piracy onshore and off"
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