The New York Times reports that a “436-foot-long German-owned cargo vessel called the Magellan Star,” with a crew of 11, was hijacked in the gulf of Aden by Somali pirates on Wednesday morning. Coming to the rescue of the Germans was 24 American marines. They boarded the ship and captured the pirates without firing a shot. I’m sure that their arrival was a welcoming sight to the detained crew members. However, this raise critical questions concerning America’s role on the high seas.
Let me be upfront concerning what I don’t know. I’m not aware if there is an American, NATO, or UN policy that places the United States in the role of international naval police. If that is a reality then the fuss that I’m about to make concerning the actions that the military took is unwarranted. Furthermore, America could have spoken to German officials and received permission to act in behalf of their captured countrymen, or perhaps the sea of Aden falls within American jurisdiction–this is probable if the U.S. has bases in the area.
If the points stated above are not true, then I invite all to entertain my musings on U.S.’ military involvement where, perhaps, it shouldn’t be. Before I go further, let me say that I’m not against the idea that America shouldn’t be stagnant in responding to emergencies in which it is capable of providing superior aid. With that reasoning, there is also a need to set up policies and regulations concerning what should be viewed as an appropriate emergency to be acted on and what should the appropriate actions be.
In cases which require humanitarian aid it is often easy to make quick and quarrel-less judgments concerning if action should be taken and what type. Flying over a village and dropping sacks of rice and/or medical aid will usually get you less gun fire than marching U.S. soldiers into a sovereign state, even if it is to liberate them. Everyone is excited about liberation but no one is excited about occupation–which is necessary if peace is to be sustained until the freed people establish their government. Of course, the manner in which one is occupied plays a major role in their view of the occupiers.
With the boarding of the German ship, the American military retrieved the assets of employees belonging to another nation, and saved their lives. What if these employees where killed in the rescue attempt, would the Germans have been angered at the Americans? What if it was a Saudi ship? What would have been the result? Though involving in these situations is noble, it may get complicated.
This is why, if it hasn’t done so already, the UN needs to establish some sort of international naval police. There is no need to allow the U.S. to run amok as if it is some kind of international police. What if it was another nation that boards an American vessel in order to save it and the mission goes wrong? There is no outrage when things go right, but as soon as there is a problem intentions are forgotten.
America has become too involved in the affairs of others. The Somali pirates need to be dealt with by the Somali officials if they are operating on Somali owned waterways, and the UN if they are operating on international waterways–meaning, areas of the high seas that do not fall under the jurisdiction of any nation. The American military is stretched out as it is and the last thing they need is to be the sea police.
The United States seems to have become like the old British empire, upon which “the sun never sets.” Well, the sun did eventually set–though it may be argued that the British still retain major influence in large parts of the world. Their influence is no match for America’s dominion of the world. This is due largely to the long arm of the American war machine. The sun never sets on the American empire.
- U.S. Marines Free Ship From Somali Pirates (nytimes.com)
- US marines retake hijacked ship (bbc.co.uk)
- U.S. Marines seize ship from pirates in the Gulf of Aden (reuters.com)
- You: U.S. Marines nab Somali pirates in Gulf of Aden (washingtonpost.com)