Readers Speak Out On Fighting Somali Piracy

SPEAK OUT

April 17, 2009

I wholeheartedly approve of the way President Barack Obama handled the pirate hostage situation ("Shots end crisis," April 13).

I heard some talking heads on Fox News chastising him for calling out the U.S. Navy to deal with this situation. That's hogwash.

U.S. maritime interests require the freedom of the seas, and the president, through the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, has a duty and a responsibility to protect those interests whenever and wherever they are threatened.

I find it ironic that some of the same people who glorified the invasion of foreign countries in the name of somewhat questionable U.S. interests (in Iraq, Nicaragua, etc.) suddenly have a problem with using the military to deal with a direct threat to U.S. citizens.

I give rare kudos to Mr. Obama on this issue.

Mark J. Bodman, Towson

The editorial "War at sea" (April 14) argued that "no one wants to contemplate a military incursion to clean out pirate havens on Somalia's coast."

However, I would not rule out sending in a military force to neutralize the pirates and make the shipping lanes safe once again. After all, we have 60,000 troops in Afghanistan and more than 100,000 more in Iraq. President Barack Obama should contemplate sending a force into Somalia to wipe out the culprits with or without the help of foreign nations.

But I do not see it as a job for the world's navies. I would prefer to see a United Nations or NATO-led force land on the Somali landmass to do the job.

Failing that, the U.S. military might be able to go in and do the job alone.

Jerry Todd, Linthicum

Bravo to the crew of the Maersk Alabama, Capt. Richard Phillips and the U.S. Navy. A clear message needs to be sent to the pirate community: You don't hijack American-flagged ships on the high seas and take our citizens hostage.

Allen Baker, Baltimore

The writer is a captain in the merchant marine.

Everyone seemed to be convinced that when the pirates in Somalia witnessed the great show of strength of the American Navy, they would just go away in fear and trembling.

Since that has obviously not happened (at least five more ships have been attacked since the Maersk incident ended), perhaps a better idea would be to stop all shipping to Somalia.

That would certainly get the attention of its leaders and might even stir them to act to get rid of the pirates.

Arlene Gordon, Baltimore

Since American ships have become a special target of Somali pirates, we should expect appropriate action by our Navy and special forces in the waters off the coast of Somalia.

There is a sure way to stop the attacks against U.S. ships and the vessels of other nations: Destroy the pirate boats and the larger vessels they use to ferry their felons to the targets. The towns and harbors used by the pirates are known to our military, and it would be easy to destroy every boat, trawler or other vessel larger than a rowboat, plus their harbor facilities.

Let the pirates and other Somali interests understand that every vessel and port is at risk unless piracy is halted.

As a former merchant seaman who served on American oil tankers, I know the lives of mariners engaged in peaceful international commerce must be protected from the crime of piracy.

Raymond S. Gill, Crownsville

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