In an adventure which will enter history as legend the US navy secured the release of a naval captain held hostage after his vessel was seized by pirates off the Somali coast. Who will get the credit. Certainly the captain who offered himself as hostage to save his ship, and the marksman who picked off the pirates in the cramped lifeboat, one of whom was pointing his rifle directly at the captain’s back. It is Obama who will benefit most, however, since although it was a minor operation compared to Iraq and Afghanistan the White House staff have made it clear that it was the President’s clear commands following many briefings that contributed to success.
Such incidents show the fragile and complex nature of presidential fortune since has the operation turned sour Obama would have faced headlines as Clinton did when an invasion of Haiti went wrong, and Carter after a rescue mission in the desert ended catastrophically. Earlier this month a French operation ended by killing one of the hostages as a small yacht seized by pirates was reclaimed.
Clearly piracy has allowed the growth of a lucrative industry in the face of the dire poverty in this region. It’s an area where there have been US military operations which appear to be ongoing without the media coverage engaged in the major theatres of war. The big test comes to see if the U.S. will adopt different approaches to foreign policy which begin to allow peaceful developments to occur instead of looking for alternative sources of wealth: drugs, people trafficking and now piracy included.