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Sun, Aug. 18

Editorial: Obama makes correct decision

President Barack Obama did the right thing to resolve the Maersk-Alabama pirate hostage crisis and he deserves high praise.

The president gave the order to shoot the pirates the moment all three presented a target that wouldn't endanger the hostage Alabama captain Richard Phillips. And shoot the Navy SEALs did in a phenomenal feat of synchronized marksmanship. They took out all three pirates at once with head shots.

In this instance, the president made it unmistakably clear that things won't go well for anyone who seizes a U.S.-flagged ship on the high seas. It has been 200 years since pirates seized a U.S. ship. It would be difficult to handle it any other way without inviting an avalanche of new provocations from a number of sources.

But this show isn't over.

"From now on," one pirate, 30-year-old Jamac Haberb, told the Associated Press, "if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill them (the hostages). (U.S. forces have) become our No. 1 enemy."

Somali pirates currently have 230 foreign sailors captive on a more than a dozen different ships anchored off Somalia.

The president, however, has the right idea.

"We have to continue to be prepared to confront them (pirate incidents) when they arise, and we have to ensure that those who commit acts of piracy are held accountable for their crimes," the president said.

This won't be an easy project. The lives of hostages scattered among many different locations are at stake. The stretch of oceans where the pirates operate is vast. Our whole Navy couldn't patrol it all. The key may lie in each affected nation equipping its ships better to defend themselves and providing escorts.

This definitely will require some international cooperation. If the United Nations is still worth anything, this is a chance to prove it.

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