Real Men Invade Somalia
It seems that with the successful rescue of Captain Phillips from Somali pirates, the line from the Obama administration's critics like Commentary's Jennifer Rubin is that, yeah, that's fine, but he really needs to invade Somalia:
The task now is to re-establish peace and security on the seas and go about the task of recovering, if possible, over 250 hostages held by the pirates. Thomas Jefferson understood you can not defeat pirates by chasing them one by one around a vast sea. We must either in concert with our allies or unilaterally, if need be, devise a strategy to take the fight to the pirates and re-establish some semblance of order.
Agreed. So what's the plan for establishing some semblance of order inside Somalia?
UPDATE: John Boonstra at UN Dispatch demurs:
Well, I don't think looking to a 200-year dead president for advice on combating modern piracy and statelessness is the best idea, but I also don't think Rubin is necessarily prescribing invasion here. She's right that "eradicating safe havens" will be an important step, though I'd rather eradicate the problem of piracy than the entire city of Eyl, say. For that matter, what Rubin suggests -- going ashore to pursue the pirates, which has become a pretty trendy policy recommendation -- has already been permitted by a Security Council resolution. This is definitely a helpful tool, and the fact that such a provocative step has a UN seal of legitimacy is significant. But navies would still be wise to use this authorization carefully, as precipitous excursions could have a strong likelihood of destabilizing Somalia further and galvanizing all sorts of landlubbing "pirates," which nobody wants.
I think treating pirates as "criminals" -- and in fact taking seriously the grievances of at least the original fishermen-cum-vigilante-pirates (namely, the illegal fishing and toxic dumping that engendered the whole viable life-as-pirate thing) -- is in fact the appropriate thing to do....This is something that affects every country that sends a ship through or around the Gulf of Aden. It only makes sense to pool these countries' collective resources and wisdom and address the problem together.
That's fair enough, but none of it addresses the fact that what's required inside Somalia is nation building on a fairly robust scale to shore up the poverty and lawlessness that is enabling piracy. Nothing I've read to date offers up anything like a plausible explanation of how that's accomplished (although I've by no means canvassed everything written on the subject).
UN Security Council resolutions notwithstanding, I suspect that none of the nations currently patrolling the Indian Ocean have much interest in going ashore to root out the pirates, much less dumping soldiers in to police the country. Advocates of bombing Somalia don't really have a well thought out response to what happens if piracy continues despite the bombings. After all, as we learned during the 1990s inside Afghanistan, dropping some bombs on an already impoverished country doesn't exactly dry up international threats.