Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Piracy on the high seas

Well, the African pirates finally did it, they boarded an American flagged ship. They woke the sleeping giant. Or did they?
President Barack Obama was following the situation closely, foreign policy adviser Denis McDonough said.

Following the situation?

What about the cavalry? How about sending the Navy with a few big guns, missiles, airplanes, and marines? Then follow that situation.

I'll grant that sending the Navy isn't going to be immediately effective.
U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Nathan Christensen said the closest U.S. ship at the time of the hijacking was 345 miles (555 kilometers)away.

That's a pretty large distance for quick response. But if a ship flying an American flag means anything it needs to mean "Don't mess with me". It needs to mean that the US will respond with serious force If it doesn't mean that then it doesn't mean anything.

In 1968 I was on a Navy gunship type destroyer when the Pueblo was boarded and captured by North Korea. We were sailing enroute to the Naval Gunline of the DMZ of Vietnam. When the Pueblo sent out their distress messages every ship in the 7th fleet heard it. We were hundreds of miles south of them, in the middle of the Pacific, and there's no way we could respond quickly enough to be of any direct assistance to the crew of the Pueblo.

That didn't matter. We changed course, sailing North, fully expecting to go to war with North Korea. We didn't get orders to sail North, our Captain just did it, assuming that we'd be getting orders to do so soon.

In 1968 the crew of a US Navy warship had a large proportion of what was basically draft-dodgers -- sailors who had joined the Navy as a way to avoid the draft since the draft typically meant 2 years in the infantry. In 1968 2 years in the infantry did not seem like a rational career plan to many of us.

Going to war with Vietnam was just something we had to do, even though (to paraphrase Cassius Clay), "No Vietnamese never done nothing to me". But North Korea was different. When they seized the Pueblo they did something to me personally. I wasn't on that ship. But I could have been. And if I had been I'd have wanted to know that Col. Custer and Major Reno were fixing to come riding right over the top of that hill over there. That's the whole point of flying under a US flag.

Of course the Navy didn't look at it that way, we soon got orders to resume course to Vietnam. The crew of the Pueblo could be assured that LBJ would "monitor the situation".

Update Althouse comments on Rush's thoughts on the hijacking.

Update: It's time to authorize a campaign medal for the crew of the Bainbridge for a job well done.

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