John Kerry Misses the Spotlight
Good news for those sailing near the Somali coast: John Kerry is on the case. More than four years after running one of worst elections in history, he’s been craving the spotlight – especially after Hillary got the State Dept gig over him. In an effort to see his hair on television, he’s holding pirate hearings.
“When Americans, including at least one from Massachusetts, are endangered, you’ve got a complicated and dangerous international situation brewing, and that includes questions about a hot-pursuit policy on Somalia’s coastline.”
Yes, Senator Kerry, it’s especially complicated and dangerous when someone from Massachusetts is endangered. Not sure why having someone from Massachusetts makes it more complicated and dangerous.
“I plan to hold hearings to further examine the growing threat of piracy and all the policy options that need to be on the table before the next fire drill becomes an international incident with big implications.”
It’s a good thing he’s decided to hold hearings a year or more after the piracy off the Somali coast has been a pressing problem. And it’s a good thing he’s going to examine those options before the next fire drill is held off the Somali coast.
I suppose he doesn’t think this “fire drill” has big implications since he’s talking about the next “fire drill” having them. Even the Somalis themselves like the fire analogy when discussing maritime matters.
Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Omaar said Thursday, “The pirates are playing with fire and have got themselves into a situation where they have to extricate themselves because there is no way they can win.”
If Kerry is interested in really examining the problem as opposed to simply getting his face on the news, he might want to call Andy McCarthy as a witness.
Turns out it’s a jungle out there. What impresses, as all America’s enemies from the Barbary pirates through Osama bin Laden have always known, is the strong horse against the weak horse. What makes possible global trade, which turns into American wealth, which turns into unparalleled American largesse, is American might — American might and an American commitment to use that might as necessary to ensure a civilized global order.
“Civilized” is a much-misunderstood word, thanks to the “rule of law” crowd that is making our planet an increasingly dangerous place. Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn’t recede willingly before the wheels of progress.
There is nothing less civilized than rewarding evil and thus guaranteeing more of it. High-minded as it is commonly made to sound, it is not civilized to appease evil, to treat it with “dignity and respect,” to rationalize its root causes, to equivocate about whether evil really is evil, and, when all else fails, to ignore it — to purge the very mention of its name — in the vain hope that it will just go away. Evil doesn’t do nuance. It finds you, it tests you, and you either fight it or you’re part of the problem.
Unfortunatley, those in power don’t see evil that way. They only see evil in their own country. These pirates are only victims of American evil. We only need to discard our principles and ask the to forgive us for our past sins and then we can negotiate with them.
Senator Kerry needs to have David Rivkin and Lee Casey testify before his committee.
Experience — especially that of colonial America — suggests that a few sporadic antipirate efforts will not be enough to solve the problem. Only a dedicated naval campaign, along with a determined effort to close the pirates’ safe havens, will succeed in sending piracy back to the history books.
Does President have the cojones to order such a determined effort? So far, his silence is deafening. There may be reasons to delay speaking, such as letting actions speak for you. I hope that is the reason for his silence: that he is planning major actions. We obviously have the strength to shut down these goons in row boats. Do we have the will? Will Obama’s base allow him to fight the way we need to fight? Will there be a few missile attacks or a sustained campaign?
Capturing pirates is not the critical problem. Rather, the issue is how to handle those in captivity. Traditionally, pirates fell within that category of illegitimate hostiles that once included slave traders, brigands on the roads and, in wartime, unprivileged or “unlawful” enemy combatants. As Judge Nicholas Trott, presiding over a pirate trial, explained in 1718: “It is lawful for any one that takes them, if they cannot with safety to themselves bring them under some government to be tried, to put them to death.”
Something tells me Obama’s base won’t like this approach.
The key problem is that America’s NATO allies have effectively abandoned the historical legal rules permitting irregular fighters to be tried in special military courts (or, in the case of pirates, admiralty courts) in favor of a straightforward criminal-justice model. Although piracy is certainly a criminal offense, treating it like bank robbery or an ordinary murder case presents certain problems for Western states.
To begin with, common criminals cannot be targeted with military force. There are other issues as well. Last April the British Foreign Office reportedly warned the Royal Navy not to detain pirates, since this might violate their “human rights” and could even lead to claims of asylum in Britain. Turning the captives over to Somali authorities is also problematic — since they might face the head- and hand-chopping rigors of Shariah law. Similar considerations have confounded U.S. government officials in their discussions of how to confront this new problem of an old terror at sea.
The left doesn’t want us to fight terrorists and they don’t want us to fight pirates either.
Bret Stephens also shares some history on how we defeated piracy two hundred years ago. Senator Kerry would be wise to consider this as well.
Piracy, of course, is hardly the only form of barbarism at work today: There are the suicide bombers on Israeli buses, the stonings of Iranian women, and so on. But piracy is certainly the most primordial of them, and our collective inability to deal with it says much about how far we’ve regressed in the pursuit of what is mistakenly thought of as a more humane policy. A society that erases the memory of how it overcame barbarism in the past inevitably loses sight of the meaning of civilization, and the means of sustaining it.