Eretz Yisrael Time

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Monday, April 13, 2009
While the saving of the Merchant Marine captain from the Somali pirates was a success (and thoroughly amazing in that the Navy snipers hit their targets from a rolling boat at sea with one bullet each), the rescue operation as a whole revealed a fundamental flaw that ran through the entire operation.

The US Navy trailed the lifeboat holding the pirates and the hostage for days.

Two times before the Navy believed the life of the captain to be in “imminent danger” and received explicit permission from President Obama to utilize “lethal force” to save the captain ("act only if the captain’s life was in imminent danger, and the opportunity of having clear shots at each captor"). The third time the same thing, and this time they were able to act and killed 3 pirates, capturing a fourth while saving the shipping captain.

Jeez. It sounds like an episode of 24.

And that’s what is exactly wrong.

If the Navy had only been waiting for the perfect opportunity to kill the pirates without harming the hostage, that would have been one thing.

But that wasn’t the case.

The Navy was waiting until the captain’s life was in “imminent danger” – 3 times, until they felt it was legally legal for them to act. And even then they needed explicit permission from the President.

Isn’t it enough that the Captain’s life was in danger once (or even twice) that he would be in danger again. Or isn’t it enough that his ship was boarded by pirates in the High Seas (or Low Seas) and he was kidnapped?

How ridiculous can you get? These are pirates!

If that is how the US is going to react to piracy, and obviously to terrorism, and worse, to Iranian nuclear warheads, then there is a serious problem. There is a failure to act when needed.

And that is going to be a problem for all of us.


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