The United States should start calling these "pirates" by their true name. They are Islamic terrorists who make millions in ransom from ship hijackings and kidnappings. They don't buy fancy cars and big houses like members of some drug cartels. Instead, they use the money to finance terrorism around the world. Our notion of pirates is of a "Peg-Leg Pete"-type with an eye patch, a parrot on his shoulder and a cup of rum in his hand; more of a character than a killer. That's not the profile of Somali pirates.
There is word from some of the terrorists that they plan revenge. On Monday, a few of them fired mortars at the Mogadishu Airport just as Rep. Donald Payne's plane was taking off. Payne, (D-NJ), the highest-level U.S. official to visit Somalia in years, was in Somalia to meet with the country's prime minister and other Somali officials to discuss ways to combat the growing pirate-terrorist problem.
The Obama administration is reportedly going to help Somalia form its own Coast Guard so that it can defend itself from terrorists and lessen their threat to merchant ships. This, as well as a plan to put marshals on the vessels to deter future ship seizures, is a good start, but why wait for these goals to be accomplished? Right now Somali terrorists are believed to be holding more than 200 hostages from other nations. If they won't agree to release these people now, how about a little military intervention? Let us demonstrate in no uncertain terms that America is not to be trifled with.
There was a time when few would dare harm an American for fear of retaliation. In recent years, that fear has subsided and now some terrorists may think they'll get a free ride with President Obama and his party, which is too often seen as preferring dithering to decisiveness, hand-wringing to neck-wringing; U.N. resolutions to American resolve and purposeful action.
The best thing the president could do for the country -- and himself -- is to prove he is not a milksop. And if the president takes on the terrorists, he should have the full support of all Americans, conservatives included. We can argue about the Left's hypocrisy later. When it comes to combating terrorists, we are all in this together.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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