Posted by Ilan Goldenberg
It's amazing how one hostage crisis involving pirates can turn an ongoing story that was basically being ignored, into a national outcry to somehow make this a top priority (Just look at the extent of the coverage) . The reality is that Somalia is a mess and a combination of counterterrorism officials and Africa experts have been warning about this issue for a while and getting very little attention. Now suddenly, there is a universal call to end the scourge of piracy. The amount of stupid things written about this in recent days is remarkable with Ralph Peters of the New York Post being perhaps the craziest of all.
I guess that is one option. Even though just about everyone who has seriously covered this issue would tell you that it would only make things worse. Or we could return to the land of reality and recognize that the piracy problem and Somalia more broadly is a serious problem that needs to be effectively managed and addressed. But we also need to deal with serious concerns regarding: the financial crisis, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Russia, North Korea, Mexico, the Arab-Israeli conflict, global warming, non-proliferation, etc... The point is that Somalia and the piracy/terrorism issue belong somewhere on the list. But it would be wise to take a deep breath and evaluate our options seriously, taking into account other priorities and limited resources before doing anything rash. The whole country would benefit from a sane conversation and reasonable media coverage on this issue, instead of having a whole bunch of people who didn't even know this was an issue two weeks ago weigh in with all kinds of wacky options.
Update: Noah Shachtman breaks down the options.