Apr 11 2009

Team Obama Is Experiencing DC’s Paralysis of Analysis Over Pirates

Published by at 12:30 pm under All General Discussions

Update: Finally, some small steps in the right direction:

U.S. warships are trying to stop Somali pirates from sending reinforcements to a lifeboat where an American captain is being held hostage as the high-seas standoff off Africa’s eastern coast entered a fourth day Saturday.

But sadly another step backwards:

Pirates seized a U.S.-owned and Italian-flagged tugboat with 16 crew on Saturday in the latest hijacking in the busy Gulf of Aden waterway, a regional maritime group said.

Why weren’t these potential targets being watched closer?

– end update

Too many people have been jumping into the Somalia pirate conflict half cocked and uninformed, proposing rash and immediate action without a lot of thought. Like any other armed robbery gone bad (yes, this is more like violent crime than an act of Jihad) with hostages it is prudent to take some time and avoid unnecessary loss of life – as the French just demonstrated.

But there is also the flip side to rash action which is just as bad, and that is doing nothing. Team Obama is getting its first serious test and I now can see the vague outlines of another Black Hawk Down situation arising, mirroring how neophyte President Clinton screwed up in his first challenge as President. Unlike the knee-jerk crowd, I did give Team Obama some time to take action before beginning to draw conclusions. But that grace period is closing rapidly.

The first trap an inexperienced President falls into is the inaction that comes from DC’s penchant for ‘paralysis by analysis’. Bureaucrats in DC hate to go out on a limb or take a position. You see they may be wrong and then all their hopes and dreams for personal reward are gone. So they pretend to be doing something through endless and useless debate over ‘what if’ and ‘suppose if’ and ‘this could happen’. Lots of heat – no fire. It is all DC really does when you boil it down.

This is how Clinton was talked into a limited incursion into Somalia’s capitol to take out a war lord, instead of using a large, unassailable force to do the job. The DC jabberwocky blabber probably warned Clinton that an overwhelming show of force would make America look too overbearing, too aggresive. So Clinton directed we go in light. The result was our people got creamed, and al Qaeda was born.

Obama better end the the endless DC chatter:

Senior Obama administration officials are debating how to address a potential terrorist threat to U.S. interests from a Somali extremist group, with some in the military advocating strikes against its training camps. But many officials maintain that uncertainty about the intentions of the al-Shabab organization dictates a more patient, nonmilitary approach.

The ‘strike hard and strong’ approach is the right one. At some point these delays go from being looked at as ‘prudent’ to being seen as ‘weak’. We have hit that point. We should have sunk any pirate assistance that set sail for the stand off. And we should obliterate the culprits if anything happens to our people. We probably should obliterate them anyway, to make it clear what happens when you mess with America.

Team Obama has gone past the prudent stage and missed too many opportunities (e.g., the captain’s escape attempt). It is debating and not acting. It is acceding the field to the pirates as they dictate terms. It is time to shut the yackers up in DC and send these so called pirates down to Davy Jones’ Locker.


24 responses so far

24 Responses to “Team Obama Is Experiencing DC’s Paralysis of Analysis Over Pirates”

  1. kathie says:

    Some were saying that Obama wasn’t saying anything because he didn’t want to escalate things while moving assets into the region, that sounded plausible. I think what Obama will come to know is that all the many opinions don’t have the ultimate responsibility, Obama does, it will be on his watch and HE IS GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE THE DECISION. That decision will be his legacy. He may come to know that given the “facts” a decision is made, he will have to live with it, weather the “facts” were right or wrong, and it is a tough job being the decider. Sound familiar?

  2. kathie says:

    What I have heard is that for insurance reasons, armed men are not allowed on ships. Blackwater offered to protect ships. American ships have moved further out to sea to avoid being captured, so the pirates have moved further out to sea as well, by using mother ships that the pirates sail from. To stop this senseless robbery someone is going to have to do something radical……..I’m wondering who that someone is going to be? Who leads when America does not?

  3. Whomever says:

    Child development theorists tell us there are three ways for parents to be: 1. Authoritarian 2. Authoritative 3. Permissive.
    In over-reaction to authoritarianism, some seek permissiveness. Many people saw Bush as #1 and became #3ish in reaction, when the way to parent is #2.
    The First Lady is probably #2 at home with the children and the President would support that and can deflect that #2 function largely to her at home since she covers it so well.
    Good job; happy balanced kids. The way to parent is #2.
    But it seems to me that the way to handle pirates is also #2.
    Limits must be set. Humans do not get to behave like beasts.
    Authoritative parents do not get to slip into #1 (demanding other parents to parent with them) or #3 (analysing to death as this post above analyses astutely) to get other parents to parent authoritatively with them. When authoritative parenting is called for, it is to come immediately, on the spot. Speak! Say something! Act! Set the standards! Direct, don’t meander. Take a stand! Parent! And say why so the world can understand that piracy is not ok, ever. Once that is clear, we can also look into why some young men jump into piracy, but first: no piracy. I guess what’s wrong with this simple theory is that it excludes the Captain. Or does it?

  4. kathie says:

    The problem with #2 is that it is tough, and progressives don’t like tough.

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  7. Rodney Graves says:

    “The seat of purpose is on the land”

    The sovereign remedy for piracy is likewise on the land.

    You capture and interrogate all the pirates you encounter alfoat. Once the interrogation is completed and the token trial completed, you hang them.

    You then proceed to the port from which they embarked and level that port.

    If we’re trying to be nice about it, we invest and blockade the port firtst. Then move the inhabitants to a detention camp built for that purpose, taking photographs, fingerprints, and DNA samples. We then burn and bulldoze the port.

    The former residents are then told that this will happen to any and all such ports where pirates embark from or bring their prizes back to, and that anyone of them found to be in such a future incident won’t be evacuated from the port prior to its complete demolition.

    Repeat as required until the costs are well understood to outweigh the benefits of piracy.

  8. Boghie says:


    President Obama is Liberal.

    Liberals are Conflicted.

    Thus, no decision will be made till dithering becomes impossible.

    It will be too late at that point to have a good outcome.

    Then comes a half baked plan initiated from the Oval Office.

    Then, you will have much of the liberal base carping at whatever decision was made. You see, if Obama was just a competent Liberal he would be able to single-handedly save the captain, capture the freedom fighters, send them through Shoe Repair Training, and repatriate them to Somalia.

    The only chance Captain Phillips had was the one he attempted. The Navy will not be permitted any action that my put him in jeopardy. The problem is: He is in jeopardy. That will become more so when the next claptrap pirate vessel lashes to the lifeboat. And, then even more so when he is brought to shore and dragged to a ‘safe house’. And, to make things potentially worse – what group of pirates would sally forth into the teeth of the American Navy. Yup, Islamic militants. We will find that these boats are either crewed by Islamists or are being coerced into action by Islamists.

    Day 4 of potentially 444 Days of National Failure.

  9. crosspatch says:

    “Why weren’t these potential targets being watched closer?”

    Because the idiot-in-chief and his bumbling staff are more interested in being politically correct than in preventing stuff like this happening.

    It is about rhetoric and posturing. By the time Obama is done will we have dozens of hostages all over the place. Carter on steroids.

  10. jd watson says:

    This is the reason electing someone like Obama, with no executive experience, was a tragic mistake. The most difficult responsibility of an executive is to make tough decisions when his advisors are not in agreement among themselves, when information is incomplete, and when the outcome is not guaranteed. The first few such decisions are agonizing and the neophyte typically engages in what is called “thrashing” in computer science, i.e., going back and forth between possibilities, never reaching a decision.

    Often the best way to make such decisions is to have some set of guiding principles. Here, the guiding principle is old and well known: you don’t ever pay the Danegeld. Another comes from Obama’s hometown of Chicago: if someone brings a knife to a fight, you bring a gun. My suggestions would be:

    In the short term, make clear to the pirates that if kill the captain, they are all dead. Prevent any assistance to them by any means necessary. Send in a team of SEALs late at night to capsize the lifeboat and rescue the captain, leaving the pirates to fend for themselves. If any are still alive in the morning, give your crew some 50 caliber machinegun practice and feed the sharks.
    Longer term, it should be possible via satellites to identify the mother ships being used as bases for these attacks. When such a ship is found in international waters, it should be immediately sunk.
    The port facilities and land support for these pirate operations shcould be identified and destroyed.

    Only when it is made clear to the pirates that the costs exceed the benefits will these operations cease.

  11. I R A Darth Aggie says:

    Why weren’t these potential targets being watched closer?

    Because we have a roughly 400 ship navy, we cover most of the world’s shipping lanes, and that’s an awful lot of water for an awfully small number of ships. That’s not considering that about half of that number is devoted to carrier battle groups, and a number of the remainder are support ships to support ships at sea.

    Even with the support of the Brit and the Indian navies in the region, the pirates will always have they initiative. We can’t arbritrarily blow trawlers out of the water, and the pirates aren’t going to engage in piracy while being watched.

    Long term, jd watson is correct in his assessment. Piracy currently pays pretty well. Until the risks are greater than the rewards, piracy will continue. Hows that saying go? you get more of what you subsidize.

    Except that I think any surviving pirates should be hung from the yardarm. That would be an awful waste of .50 cal ammo.

  12. kathie says:

    It’s never going to happen jd, Obama called in the FBI, I can’t imagine what for. Please what is the FBI going to do? Say that they are criminals. I think we already know that.

    I’m with you jd. Get the bastards, and make them pay a very high price. But then I was for winning the war in Iraq, what do I know?

  13. WWS says:

    Rather than ask why these ships weren’t being covered, ask why every ship operating in that area doesn’t carry a small detachment of marines authorized to use deadly force against any ship approaching within 400 yards.

    There’s nothing these pirates use that can’t be taken out with a 50 cal minigun.

  14. lacegrl130 says:

    The media is backing up Obama all the way. This morning on TODAY Lester Holt asked Cliff the FBI guy:This is a criminal situtation and should be handled as such, right? Right? (I paraphrase) But, the point is, there will be no outrage until the captain is dead. And I wonder if there will be outrage even then. My liberal friends have just tuned it all out. We are so cooked…

  15. crosspatch says:

    I think they should just ban hijacking and then ban the weapons hijackers use. That should fix everything.

  16. kathie says:


  17. Mike M. says:

    IRA Aggie, you’re mistaken about one thing. We do NOT have a 400-ship Navy.

    We have about 275 ships in commission. Trying, with limited success, to build back over 300.

    The Fleet has been gutted. And there is no relief in sight…not when the nation is squandering a thousand billion dollars on the porkulus.

  18. Neo says:

    Of course there is my favorite (from Hunt for Red October) …
    Jeffrey Pelt: Listen, I’m a politician which means I’m a cheat and a liar, and when I’m not kissing babies I’m stealing their lollipops. But it also means I keep my options open.

  19. crosspatch says:

    These guys are on a lifeboat 350 miles from shore. We give them the money, get the captain, and prevent them from going anywhere. When they get hungry and thirsty we charge them whatever the ransom was for a bottle of water.

    They aren’t going anywhere and they aren’t going to kill the captain. He is the only thing they have of any value and he is their meal ticket right now.

    If anything happens to that captain, they are dead meat and they know it. All we have to do is sail away and they are dead. They can’t get to shore in that lifeboat.

    This is really all a matter of time.

    But that is the narrow picture. The bigger picture is that coast needs to be cleaned up. The USS Boxer is on the way with 2000 of Camp Pendelton’s finest. I don’t think you need 2000 amphibious Marines to deal with a handful of idiots in a life raft. Maybe the Obidiot has grown a pair but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  20. joe six-pack says:

    I do not understand why grouping ships together in convoys has not already been done. This is a time tested method that has helped defeat far better organized, better equipped and more numerous enemies.