This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.
The U.S. Navy's rescue of ship captain Richard Phillips on Sunday morning put a face and an identity to what heretofore had been brazen but obscure attacks by Somali pirates on merchant ships in the Indian Ocean. The rescue is a turning point in the long-running standoff with pirates who have made shipping channels near Somalia the most dangerous in the world. The fight is now personal, and America is ready to lead the charge.
The rescue shows that the pirates no longer have the upper hand. Now, they know that much more is at risk than spray from a water cannon, or being thwarted when they attempt to seize unarmed vessels. The next step is for the international community to coalesce around taking away the financial incentives that make this brand of pirating an extremely lucrative business.
This means refusing to pay the million-dollar ransoms that reward and embolden the pirates.
For the moment, though, America and the civilized world can celebrate Capt. Phillips' safe return home and express gratitude for the crisp military operations that turned the tables on the small band of bandits. For a while, the pirates' position seemed a textbook example of an asymmetric confrontation in which the weaker adversary neutralizes the powerful opponent's great advantages.
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