I just learned that Somali pirates have killed the US hostages they’ve been holding. This amidst a world where political unrest is rocking the Middle East, the Koreans are at each others’ throats, and the future of our planet is threatened with environmental collapse and resource shortages.
So it occurs to me on this occasion to ask the following:
If the United States of America does not possess the political and military might to stop Somali pirates, what in the hell makes us think that we can fix any of those other problems?
There was once a time when the US was truly a “policeman to the world”, but that time is past. I’ll save for another day any commentary about whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but for me, this event is something of an eye-opener, because nothing could possibly illustrate our collective international helplessness more vividly than this.
Go read this, and then reflect for a moment on the international status of the United States in 1801. That’s pre-Civil War. Over 100 years prior to WWI, and a century and a half before the United States would emerge as the world’s first superpower at the end of WWII.
The United States of America has reverted to a 17-century level of international influence.
Note that this isn’t a bipartisan issue. It’s not like we’re not doing anything about this because half the country thinks it’s a pretty good idea to allow these pirates free reign. Oh – and don’t start with “this is Obama’s fault” — this has been going on in earnest since 2005.
No, the problem here is very simply one of not being capable of projecting influence. We can talk until we’re blue in the face, but until the day comes that we can convince a bunch of Somali pirates that the pirate business doesn’t have a future, I’m going to be pretty skeptical that we can do a lot of good in the “how to build a new nation” department, let alone the “how to save the world” department.
I’m not asking you to like it, but you know I’m right.
- Somali Pirates Kill All 4 American Hostages on Yacht (blippitt.com)
- US military: Somali pirates seize yacht with four Americans onboard – CNN International (news.google.com)
- Somalia Pirates Kill Four Hostage Americans: Reports (huffingtonpost.com)