“Easter Miracle”

That’s what some are calling the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips. Jules Crittenden comments:

Exactly. God helps those who helps themselves. A 5.56/7.62/9 mm miracle, by the grace of frogmen.

The details of the rescue are still not entirely clear, to me anyway. It appears that the three remaining pirates on board the lifeboat threatened Captain Phillips, causing the commander of the Bainbridge to order snipers to take them out:

One of the pirates pointed an AK-47 at the back of Phillips, who was tied up and in “imminent danger” of being killed when the commander of the nearby USS Bainbridge made the split-second decision to order his men to shoot, Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said.

An early report had Captain Phillips jumping into the water for a second time, thereby allowing the snipers to start firing, but that apparently was incorrect. The AP tells us that the “operation” was “personally approved by President Barack Obama,” but if the above account is correct, the “approval” must simply have been authorization to start shooting if the commander on the scene thought it necessary to do so.

Still, I hope Obama takes a lesson–maybe several–from this happy outcome. The pirate infestation is a sort of farcical echo of the much more serious problem of Islamic terrorism. Here, too, some are quick to claim that self-defense can only be counterproductive:

“This could escalate violence in this part of the world, no question about it,” said Gortney, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding the Greek ship anchored in the Somali town of Gaan said: “Every country will be treated the way it treats us. In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying,” he told The Associated Press. “We will retaliate (for) the killings of our men.”

Yeah, right. I’m sure you’re looking forward to your next encounter with the U.S. Navy. As for the remaining pirate, who apparently was negotiating with someone and therefore away from the boat at the climactic moment, there is talk of bringing him back to the U.S. to “stand trial.” Earlier today one of my brothers suggested that a rope and a cement block would be cheaper, but I don’t suppose that advice will be heeded.

Finally, among the several lessons I hope President Obama will take away from this incident are not only the courage, which Obama appropriately saluted, but also the humility of Captain Phillips, who said:

I’m just the byline. The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home.

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