Life's been interesting for some other folks in the last 48 hours as well. We've heard more about pirates lately than when Pirates of the Caribbean opened. But they don't look quite like Johnny Depp:
Piracy is making a comeback in the open seas off the Somali coast. Not too long ago, Somali brigands captured a Ukrainian arms vessel (the last thing that country needs is more weapons floating around); a few days ago, they hauled in a Saudi oil supertanker loaded with $100 million worth of crude; today, the Indian Navy was engaged by, and proceeded to sink, a pirate "mothership" that threatened them with RPGs and automatic weapons. Piracy is nothing new, of course (one of the Marine Corps' first missions after the Revolutionary War was destroying the Barbary pirates who were enslaving American merchant crews), and has plagued other parts of the world in modern times (Southeast Asian countries had their own problems, which vigorous coordination abated). The Gulf of Aden, however, is only getting more inhospitable, partly because of the sheer size of the area that needs patrolling, but also because there's no consensus on what to do with the pirates when they're captured. This isn't a Disney movie; this is a real threat to international order, the ability of countries to freely trade goods, and our own national security (Somalia is rife with al Qaeda-affiliated radicals who could find all kinds of bad uses for Ukrainian tanks and Saudi oil). Maybe one of President Obama's first foreign policy initiatives could be the creation of a muscular anti-piracy agreement between affected nations, as well as fewer restrictions on the ability of our Navy to chase down these criminals. After all, our Navy has guaranteed the security of the high seas for decades; there's no reason we should be on the defensive against contemporary Blackbeards.
Other fun news from another bad boy in that region: a week ago, Iran tested a multi-stage medium range ballistic missile capable of striking Moscow, Greece, and southern Italy. No good can come of this. I'm sure some people might argue that at best, Iran is a regional threat; that its military is so fragmented in its command structure that it'd be ineffective against our own; that they're years away from getting nukes; that they're not interested in nukes at all; that diplomacy will solve everything. Some or all of this may be true, or it could be profoundly wishful thinking, given that Iran has suffered no punishment for its continued nuclear program. With this test, Iran's 'region' has gotten even larger; and even if they're only able to make a few nukes, one would be enough to blackmail any country within its striking range.
One small victory: the Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit that would have prevented naval vessels from conducting sonar training whenever whales or dolphins strayed into the area, on the chance - not proven fact - that sonar might interfere with those animals' lifestyle. Thankfully our Navy can continue training to confront modern threats without worrying about environmental groups lobbying on behalf of Shamu.