Vail Valley Voices: The real heroes off the Somali coast |

Vail Valley Voices: The real heroes off the Somali coast

Jim Akin
Vail, CO, Colorado

I wish to comment on a commentary by Cal Thomas, “Where credit is due,” published in the Vail Daily on Saturday.

The article implies that some believe President Obama can take credit for the “flawless rescue of Capt. Phillips from the hands of terrorists masquerading as pirates.”

If you are like me, about day three of this incident you were scratching your head and wondering why the Navy SEALs had not taken these bad guys out within the first few hours of the taking of Capt. Phillips. After all, these SEALs are experts at this kind of special operation, and I find it hard to believe that they were not acting immediately to rescue the captain.

Well, guess what? Our inexperienced president’s lack of toughness and no track record of decisiveness decided that any outcome other than a “peaceful solution” would not be acceptable. In other words, unless the hostage’s life was in clear, extreme danger, do nothing.

Give me a break. There were four young, mostly teenage, nervous, scared to death, ragtag criminals pointing AK-47s at the captain at all times. Any one of them without provocation could have accidentally pulled the trigger and killed Capt. Phillips. It sure appears to me he was in “extreme danger” from the get go.

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When Capt. Phillips tried to escape by jumping off the life boat, I have to believe the SEAL sharp shooters onboard the destroyer had a clear shot at the captors, but none was taken. Why?

An indecisive White House had said take no actions other than “peaceful” actions, so an incident that could have been resolved within a few hours dragged on.

We don’t know the facts just yet. But if the truth be known, I think the captain of the Bainbridge and the SEAL commander decided enough is enough and that they had the authority to determine the extreme risk to Capt. Phillips, and they took the decisive actions the White House would not take. A few hours later there were three dead pirates, one captured scared but happy to be alive ragtag kid and one very safe and happy Capt. Phillips.

When the news reached the White House of the successful release of Capt. Phillips, there had to be one big sigh of relief — “we escaped the bullet on this one!”

Almost immediately, the Obama administration and its supporters claimed credit for this daring rescue and victory against the pirates. Not! What happen to the no actions other than “peaceful” actions?

What should have been a standoff lasting hours became a worldwide, four-day embarrassment to the United States. All the credit for the success of this operation should go to the captain of the Bainbridge and to the SEAL team.

As Mr. Thomas points out in his commentary, conservatives made a point during the campaign that “Obama is too inexperienced to be in charge of America’s national security.” This was the first test of Mr. Obama’s reactions to a national incident, and as far as I’m concerned, he failed miserably.

What if the outcome had been different? Just such a lack of decisiveness and a failed mission probably costs Jimmy Carter’s re-election. How will Mr. Obama’s inexperience affect the outcome of the next event that may involve hundreds, if not thousands, of American lives? We can only hold our breaths.

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Thomas’ conclusion that we all should support our president in taking on the terrorist and that military intervention is needed to resolve the Somali pirate attacks. However, there should be no more incidents where a handful of ragtag criminals with pistols and rifles stand off a U.S. Navy warship. That is downright embarrassing.

Mr. President, stand up and make America proud.

Jim Akin is a Vail resident.

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