North Korea Tests Nukes And Iran Deploys Bluewater Navy

I’d bet my next paycheck that back during the 2008 Presidential Campaign, when Barack Obama pledged to sit down with Iran without any pre-condidtions, that the governments of Iran and North Korea were listening very intently even if the voters who voted for Barack Obama were not.

In fact, recent developments lead me to believe that the governments of Iran and North Korea took their current actions precisely because of what Obama promised.

First, North Korea tested more nukes and the missiles necessary to deliver them, most likely as a test of the how strongly the Obama administration would respond. From Reuters:

The nuclear test was a major diplomatic challenge to Obama at a time when he is facing a global economic crisis and working to curb Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, which the West fears is aimed at producing nuclear arms but Tehran says is for energy.

Obama vowed when he took office to extend a hand to troublesome countries “willing to unclench your fist” but so far he has had little success with North Korea or Iran, which have continued to advance their nuclear programs and showed little interest in renewed dialogue.

And then the Iranians decided to flex their naval “muscle” in the Gulf of Aden, yet another test of Obama’s resolve to stand-up to regimes that oppose the goals of the United States. From Fox News:

The deployment is “a signal of military strength, resolve and continued defiance to U.S. and U.N. Security Council efforts to end the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program,” said Jim Phillips, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Heritage Institute.

“What’s very important here is the timing of this move — and this naval muscle flexing comes after Iran’s missile test earlier this week, which was saber rattling that was meant to send the same signal as this naval dispatch.”

Phillips said Ahmadinejad was using the opportunity to thumb his nose at the U.S. and U.N. to advance his own popularity in Iran ahead of the country’s hotly contested June 12 election.

A coincidence that these things are happening on the watch of an American President whose international policies are soft on terror? I think not. These were calculated moves. It now remains to be seen whether or not Obama has his nation’s best interests at heart, or the interests of those who want to see the U.S. weakened and even attacked again.

I’m willing to bet that Obama will put politics above the national interest.

You can access both articles on-line here:

Obama Says North Korea Nuclear Test A “Grave Concern”
David Alexander
Reuters
May 25, 2009

Iran Sends 6 Warships To International Waters In ‘Saber Rattling’ Move
Fox News (from Reuters)
May 25, 2009

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Fred C. Iklé: Kill The Pirates

Short, sweet and to the point. The title says it all. Kill the pirates. That is the best way to stop them. It worked down in the Carribean 300 years ago and it will work again today.

Writing for the Washington Post, Fred C. Iklé (a distinguished scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and author of Annihilation From Within and Every War Must End) makes clear that anything other than meeting this threat head-on will be counterproductive.

From his column:

It is naive to assume that the millions paid annually in ransom to pirates merely enables them to purchase villas and fancy automobiles. Somalia is a country without government, where anarchy is being exploited by terrorist organizations. Although the threat that pirates pose to commercial ships is increasingly known, little is being done to combat it. And we must consider the bigger picture: Terrorists are far more brutal than pirates and can easily force pirates — petty thieves in comparison — to share their ransom money.

Who among you believes that paying $1 million in ransom money will actually end piracy? You would have to be incredibly gullible to believe so. The pirates will think about it this way: if taking a ship is worth $1 million in ransoms, then taking a ship twice as big should be worth $2 million in ransoms.

Paying the ransom only encourages the pirates to attempt more hijackings in order to get more money.

Mr. Iklé goes on:

So why do we keep rewarding Somali pirates? How is this march of folly possible?

Start by blaming the timorous lawyers who advise the governments attempting to cope with the pirates such as those who had been engaged in a standoff with U.S. hostage negotiators in recent days. These lawyers misinterpret the Law of the Sea Treaty and the Geneva Conventions and fail to apply the powerful international laws that exist against piracy. The right of self-defense — a principle of international law — justifies killing pirates as they try to board a ship.

So, what should we have been doing all along? We should have been putting armed personnel aboard those ships. A pirate would think twice about going out on such a venture if he knew that the last three times someone from his group went out to attack a vessel that armed crewmen killed the attackers. There is not much profit in death.

More:

Nonetheless, entire crews are unarmed on the ships that sail through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Shipowners pretend that they cannot trust their crews with weapons, but the facts don’t add up. For one thing, in the United States most adults except felons are allowed to have guns, and the laws of many other nations also permit such ownership. Even if owners don’t want everyone aboard their ships to be carrying weapons, don’t they trust the senior members of their crews? Why couldn’t they at least arm the captain and place two experienced and reliable police officers on board?

When these pitifully unarmed crews watch pirates climb aboard their vessels, they can do little to fight back. And while the United States and many other naval powers keep warships in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean — deployments that cost millions of dollars — these ships cannot keep pirates from boarding commercial ships that have unarmed crews.

The international right of self-defense would also justify an inspection and quarantine regime off the coast of Somalia to seize and destroy all vessels that are found to be engaged in piracy. These inspections could reduce the likelihood that any government will find itself engaged in a hostage situation such as the one that played out in recent days. Furthermore, the U.N. Security Council should prohibit all ransom payments. If the crew of an attacked ship were held hostage, the Security Council could authorize a military blockade of Somalia until the hostages were released.

Cowardice will not defeat terrorism, nor will it stop the Somali pirates. If anything, continuing to meet the pirates’ demands only acts as an incentive for more piracy.

Absolutely.

You can access the complete column on-line here:

Kill The Pirates
Fred C. Iklé
Washington Post
April 13, 2009