On Saturday night off the coast of Somalia, pirates attacked the Norwegian-flagged MV Front Ardenne. After a seven hour pursuit by NATO warships, including the HMCS Winnipeg, the USS Halyburton and a British naval supply ship, the pirates terrorists poor, misunderstood youth threw their weapons into the ocean and surrendered.
Let’s relive the final moments of this pursuit when the Canadians caught these pirates first:
As darkness fell, Cdr. Baines cut the lights and caught up with the smaller vessel by stealth. After firing another flurry of warning shots, sailors boarded the pirate craft, recovering a rocket-propelled grenade round.
Impressive! Kudos to Commander Baines and his crew. And what, praytell, do you think happened to these thugs?
Nuthin’. They let them go.
NATO forces disarmed and interrogated the bandits, then freed them because Canadian law did not allow their prosecution if they committed no crimes against Canadians or on Canadian soil. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: “We did briefly detain pirates and disarm them, and I think those were the appropriate measures under the circumstances.”
The appropriate measures? Letting them go after stumbling upon their attempt to hijack an 80,000,000 pound tanker from Norway? Here’s one opinion from a flag officer in the Canadian Navy:
“There have been a lot of comments in the media about how much easier it was a couple hundred years ago, when we could just hang them from the yard arm,” Canadian Rear Admiral Bob Davidson said in an interview with CTV’s Question Period yesterday. “There’s the rule of law that needs to be applied, so we’re not currently regularly detaining them, no. There are all kinds of challenges with that.”
There has been much angst over how to deal with these pirates for awhile now and still there is evidently no coherent plan from NATO as to how these thugs are to be dealt with, under the rules of engagement, in the eyes of some member nations. But Glenn Porter over at Forbes has a good point:
The NATO charter states the following: “The parties of NATO agreed that an armed attack against one or more of the NATO members shall be considered an attack against all.”
The MV Front Ardenne is a Norwegian flagged vessel and, the last time I checked, there was a Norwegian Delegation to NATO. The reality of the situation Saturday night is that the MV Front Ardenne would mostly likely be under the control of pirates and its crew under guard if not for the lucky coincidence of NATO worships cruising nearby. It was a blatant attack on a NATO member and those that perpetuated said attack were barely given a slap on the wrist by military forces of other NATO members. Boo-freaking-hoo. At the very least, after being disarmed, these “terrorists of the high seas” should have been promptly delivered to the authorities in Kenya where they would be ‘dealt with.’
The logic of the Canadian Navy in releasing these pirates is equivalent to a police officer letting armed robbers go if they are stopped in their tracks mere feet from the entrance of a bank. Because, of course, they haven’t committed any crime and could have just enjoyed wearing ski masks and holding assault rifles in front of buildings, right?
It’s time that the United States stop mucking about and take the initiative in pushing NATO towards a comprehensive and rational set of engagement rules by which embarrassing episodes like this can be a thing of the past.
But can we expect any kind of leadership from President Obama? Here’s your answer.