At sea

The NYT writes about the apparent inutility of navies and the potential to "come together to end the scourage of piracy".

WASHINGTON — The Indian Ocean standoff between an $800 million United States Navy destroyer and four pirates bobbing in a lifeboat showed the limits of the world’s most powerful military as it faces a booming pirate economy in a treacherous patch of international waters. ...

While surveillance aircraft kept watch on the pirates and their captive, the Navy task force that had steamed more than 300 miles to go to the captain’s aid showed no sign of confronting the pirates. There is no evidence, experts say, of any links between the pirates and Islamic militants in Somalia, and officials said it was unlikely that the United States would strike directly at pirate sanctuaries along the Somali coast, even though the American military has fired missiles within Somalia several times in recent years at suspected operatives of Al Qaeda.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the pirates “nothing more than criminals” and noted that they were not a new problem for the United States — though this was the first time in 200 years that pirates had captured an American vessel. “One of the very first actions that was undertaken by our country, in its very beginning, was to go after pirates along the Barbary Coast” of North Africa, Mrs. Clinton said at a State Department news conference, in which she called on the international community to “come together to end the scourge of piracy.”

Meanwhile, Senator Kerry called for hearings on the pirates. "The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called for hearings on the mounting piracy threat as the fate of an American cargo-ship captain remained in limbo Thursday."

"These acts of piracy off of Somalia’s coastline may seem surreal, but they’re all too real and a thorough policy debate is long overdue," said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in a statement. "When Americans, including at least one from Massachusetts, are endangered, you’ve got a complicated and dangerous international situation brewing, and that includes questions about a hot-pursuit policy on Somalia’s coastline."