When Words Aren't Enough

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Apr 13, 2009 12:21 PM
The WaPo's Chris Cilizza notes that President Obama was keeping very much involved in the pirate crisis because he understands the political damage that could have resulted from inattention, inaction, or the perception of either on his part.

There's no doubt that Obama is an astute politician.  But let's hope that he's learned something through this episode -- that is, words and negotiations aren't always enough to solve a problem, especially when one is dealing with international outlaws.  A few Navy SEALs were able to bring a swift (and to my mind, highly satisfactory) conclusion to a "negotiation" that was going nowhere fast.

Of course, given that Captain Phillips' death appeared to be imminent -- and those at the scene could see this clearly -- the decision to act was relatively easy.  But what about the situations like North Korea or Iran, where international outlaws are working to be able, figuratively, to put a gun to the head of the entire world -- but aren't doing so in plain sight?  The decision to act may be less clear-cut, but at some point, it's no less urgent.