The Somali Pirates are not a baseball team... they aren't even a romanticized version of swashbuckling seamen on deck beneath billowing sails... but rather, they are thieves and thugs! Their successes should be an embarrassment to the shipping countries of the entire world, and to the naval forces of those countries patrolling the shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean.
The gravity of the situation was compounded by the thugs' use of the Maersk Alabama's Captain as a bargaining chip for both financial reward and freedom. There are several problems arising from this single act of piracy:
1. Piracy itself is a violation of the United Nations Maritime Law (International Maritime Law) which was signed by 150 nations.
2. Merchant vessels are currently prohibited from arming themselves, which makes them relatively easy targets for the Somali sea thieves.
3. Although 150 nations signed the UN's Maritime Law in 1982, there are only about a dozen countries providing naval patrols along the shipping routes. Another fine example of the effectiveness of the United Nations. This extremely limited response should be a major embarrassment to the United Nations.
4. Four Somali thieves - with a hostage in a lifeboat - are holding a ship of the line from the United States Navy at bay, while the thugs try to negotiate their way out of the problem they have created for themselves. This must be an embarrassment for the US Navy, if not for your doesn't-have-a-clue President! There are a couple of ways of looking at it:
a. The USS Bainbridge and the USS Halyburton have been instructed not to attempt a rescue of the freighter's Captain for humanitarian reasons. These would include bringing the power of a US Naval Destroyer to bear on four ingnorant, thieving natives in a lifeboat, or accepting that the pirates would, as threatened, kill their hostage should any rescue attempt be made.
b. These four Somali thugs are extremely threatening to the US Navy combat vessels, and the ship's Captains are afraid that the thugs will sink their ships ... yeah - right.
c. The entire standoff is to preserve the life of the Maersk Alabama's Captain. This one is my personal choice - simply because if it were not for his presence on that lifeboat, it would have already been converted to a deathboat!
My suggestion would be to send 5 Navy Seals over the side after dark, and simply have them kill the pirates, and rescue the hostage, in one single synchronized movement. End of standoff, and everybody except the bad guys goes on about their business. But, perhaps that's an oversimplification of how to deal with thugs.
I could be wrong about this... but not as wrong as choosing to let this standoff go on for an extended period. Kill 'em all, and let God sort 'em out!