Every now and then, I’ve mentioned the growing threat of piracy on the high seas. It’s a low-key threat, for now, but it’s something that does concern me — and ought to concern a lot of other folks, as more and more nations draw down their conventional militaries — especially their navies.
The first major challenge our nation faced after independence, after all, was piracy — more specifically, the Barbary pirates — the original Muslim terrorists.
Well, it seems that some of the pirates off the Horn of Africa made a very, very poor choice of target — a United States Navy vessel.
The USNS John Lenthall is an oil tanker that was sailing off the coast of Somalia when two small boats started chasing her, closing from the stern. The Navy security team on board fired off warning shots when the would-be pirates came within 400 yards of the Lenthall.
(For those who don’t understand the distinction, the letters “USS” stand for United States Ship, and indicate a naval warship. “USNS” means United States Naval Ship, meaning non-commissioned ships belonging to the Navy, but largely crewed by civilians.)
Pirates ain’t romantic swashbucklers. They’re roughly analogous to organized criminals and terrorists who work the seas, and they are a constantly growing threat to the freedom of the seas. They are considered the enemy of every nation, of every warship, no matter where they prey. It is one of the few areas where “international law” actually applies, and means something.
I find myself hoping that this attack on a United States Navy ship will finally be the clarion call that we need.