Rescue Mission and Upping the Stakes in Somalia


Yesterday, we received the pleasant news that a Navy SEAL team freed two kidnapping victims in Somalia, Poul Hagen Thisted and Jessica Buchanan.

I wish to express my gratitude to all of the members of the rescue team and to the many supporting units that made the rescue possible. Well done, ladies and gentlemen. Very well done. I am also grateful that the President made the decision to authorize the attempt.

A rescue team parachuted near a compound at night, walked to the compound, and killed the pirates. Then, helicopters picked up the rescuers and the victims and left.

There is never a guarantee that the victims will not be killed before the rescue can be affected. The President decided to order that the risk be taken, in part because one of the captives, an American named Jessica Buchanan, was ill and possibly in danger of dying of an infection.

One pleasant improvement over the press releases about this rescue as compared to the Osama removal operation is that, so far, fewer details are being released. My preference would be to not even state that Navy SEALS were involved, but instead simply say, “The US Military and its allies conducted a successful rescue of two kidnap victims in Somalia yesterday, and all nine pirates were killed without loss to the rescue team or the victims.” Which units? How many rescuers? How did they do it? Which allies? They did it with magic fairy dust and a light saber. Leave the world guessing.

There have been some interesting comments by members of the media in response to the rescue. One commentator focused on the fact that the US and its allies rarely visit the locations where the pirates are in Somalia. True. In my view, a few more unannounced visits by unidentified US military units would go a long way toward reducing piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Pirates have been left to live safely and comfortably in their warrens for too long, and many of them are increasing their inventories of military equipment. Saudi Arabia has openly accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guards of training and supplying the pirates. This would be consistent with the IRG’s past conduct, and consistent with its long-standing policy of supporting terrorism against nearly anyone.

The pirates have, in a couple of recent cases, used highly sophisticated electronics equipment to track and identify targets. It’s not the sort of equipment that one normally sees at garage sales in Somalia.

The equipment and training might, in fact, be coming from IRG units. The Iranian government would likely deny any allegations, but the IRG does not take orders from the Iranian “government.” They take orders from their own leadership and the simple-minded, bogus religious leaders who they support. These are no longer the Revolutionary Guards thugs of the eighties.

The mullahs may understand a limited number of things about the world beyond their personal harems and hash dens, but they have always clearly understood that normal Iranians would not indefinitely tolerate the sort of abuse that they intended to dish out. To deal with the fact that they have always known they deserved to be stoned to death by their countrymen, they have consistently poured oil revenues into expanding the IRG and improving its capabilities.

The mullahs have succeeded in their goal. The IRG is now very large and very capable. The one draw back to that strategy is the same one that Hitler had to deal with on “The Night of the Long Knives” in Germany on June 30, 1934. Hitler’s Nazi paramilitary, the SA, and its senior members had become too powerful, and it became a threat to the very man who it was supposed to be working for. Hitler had to use his other state police organizations to quickly wipe out Ernst Rohm, the leader of the SA, and disband his many followers.

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any pending IRG plots to replace the quirky mullahs who run Iran. It is, however, operating with increasing independence from its own unified command system, and that makes it more likely that the IRG is supplying the pirates.

The other source of weapons and technical support for the pirates is wealthy businessmen in the region. Certain wealthy businessmen are reputed to be supporting the pirates with the intent of the pirates conducting more lucrative raids and sharing the profits with them.

Given that most wealthy Middle Eastern businessmen live above the law (whatever small bit of law there may be in their country) this is a possibility. The fact that some pirates have now been operating out of Yemen supports this notion. Also, two hijackings have recently taken place far outside of the anti-pirate patrol area off of the coast of Somalia, which indicates that the pirates are vastly improving their operational capabilities.

The common thread among pirates of various culture groups is that they like profit and dislike loss. They especially dislike the loss of their own lives. By operating against pirate bases in Somalia and Yemen whenever the mood moves them to do so, the US military could, at a low cost in dollars and lives (our lives), change the profit/risk ratio in the pirating business in the Indian Ocean.

Most pirates are not suicidal. In my opinion it’s long been time to up the stakes.

Planking–It’s Not Just for Pirates Any More

Pirate’s Chest Planking at the Putt Putt

Blame it on Shawna Coronado. I’m going to, anyway.

When I first heard of planking, I thought it might be some sort of arid region form of waterboarding, or a type of pirates’ Russian roulette. But Shawna set me straight, and now I’m hooked. Yes. A planking junkie. I now look at the whole world as a planking opportunity. There are few things that I will say will change your life, and planking is not among them, but it’s a hoot, nonetheless.

I call Shawna Coronado the Green Queen. She is the author of Gardening Nude and has a great blog about gardening and living green called The Casual Gardener. Stop by, and she’ll teach you everything from edible front lawn gardens to building renaissance-style castles with discarded water bottles. More or less.

Shawna Coronado, image from — You’ll have to find the nude gardening pictures for yourself.

When I saw Shawna’s planking pictures up on her FB page, The Planking Files, I was mesmerized. What could this brilliant athletic feat be? Shawna took me by the hand and guided me to the wooden plank path of enlightenment.

I personally believe planking is a direct result of the economic downturn. It is the sort of fun, harmless, and quirky thing people do when they don’t have enough money for a movie. For those of you as ignorant as I was about this soon-to-be-Olympic-sport, planking is the act of pretending you are a wooden plank. Generally, you get a friend or family member to take your picture as you do this.

I was a bit shy about it at first so I practiced in my living room.

Ok. Time to go outside. Still feeling unsure of my technique so I started with a dirt road in the country.

Emboldened, I moved over near an oil well.

Planking by the oil well got me to thinking about our oil economy and things we might be able to do to change our ways, so to focus, I went to a nearby labyrinth.

All that contemplation made me hungry. I stopped off for some fresh Colorado Western Slope peaches at my favorite vegetable stand.

And on to the Leanin’ Tree Museum to enjoy some of the finest Western art in the world.

That was exhausting in a very pleasant way. Time for a plank beside the river.

Ahh. All refreshed and ready for a bit of excitement down at Pearl Street, Boulder’s outdoor mall.

As I planked through the day, some folks stared, and some folks laughed, but most just ignored me. For some reason, none of them jumped into my pictures.

Have you ever gone planking? Do you have any planking pictures you’d care to share?

My deepest gratitude to Shawna Coronado for inspiring a great day with my daughter and photographer.

All the best to all of you for exploring the Joy of Planking.

Piper Bayard—The Planking Pale Writer of the Apocalypse