In the period between President Obama’s November 2008 victory at the polls and his taking office on January 20, 2009, members of Obama’s transition team began talking to military planners about various options that might be available for dealing with Somali pirates.
In my estimation, this is smart planning by the Obama team. It’s always smart to have serious options and gamed-out scenarios for brewing national security problems.
But the source recounted to me that those asking for the development of these option plans seemed more focused on whether a low-cost, low loss-of-American lives action could be quickly taken in a strike against pirates because of the need to demonstrate that Americans could still strike hard and achieve their military and political objectives.
The source worried that in my source’s opinion, there was perhaps not enough consideration of what it might be like to potentially open yet a third active military front in that region.
This is very interesting to me because after Obama’s election, I believed that Obama would have to find a small country to bomb, or find a way to flex his military muscles as a way to ward off accusations of being “appeaser-in-chief” when opening negotiations with Iran, Syria, and other problematic countries.
His tough-edged team of Robert Gates at Defense, Jim Jones at the NSC, and Hillary Clinton at State seemed to take down a notch the need for credential building, but I still worried a bit that Obama might do something rash early on in his administration, like John F. Kennedy had done, to prove that he had a hard side.
Since the Israel invasion of Gaza, I sense that this desire to start a conflict, even a small one using special force units, has dissipated — but still could happen. And frankly, the Somali pirates are a problem that may need to be dealt with in such a way.
While I hope that Obama is not eager to execute any of the options that may have been prepared for him by the military and intelligence bureacracies on the pirates, this could still take place soon.
I was surprised to see this report that Japan, largely absent from global affairs as of late, is going to get in to action in sea lane protection off the Somali coast — throwing some of their military capacity into the Somali pirate problem.
Japan rarely moves unless it senses America will too.
— Steve Clemons