No-drama resolution to abduction of American captain off the coast of Somalia by pirates

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm a really big fan of this approach to national security issues, where buzz words like War on Terror are avoided, no huge fusses are made over incidents like this, but work goes on behind the scenes to resolve situations like this as swiftly and efficiently as possible. Just as in politics it's always a big mistake to let one's enemies (or political rivals) to ever see you caught off your guard or overly excited.

Since the standoff began last Tuesday, Obama made no public, in-person remarks on the topic, even declining to answer when questions were shouted at him during a press availability.

He didn't call in his Cabinet for a high-profile command meeting. He let military and top administration officials do the talking, but even they kept saber-rattling out of the equation.


So what Obama did was receive regular briefings, sometimes as often as half a dozen times a day. He weighed in with two critical decisions allowing the military to take action to save Phillips' life. And he laid the groundwork for a federal criminal law enforcement response.

Reminds me of this image.

Naturally the operation itself was carried out by a sniper team and the situation could have gone either way, and I don't subscribe to the idea that the outcome of sudden national security issues should have that great an effect on a presidency, unless there was some direct mismanaging of the situation by the President himself. It's certainly possible that Obama could have done the exact same thing but ended up differently if the pirates had been aware of what was going on. Nevertheless I do like the way in which it was handled. I definitely prefer a policy where opponents never (or rarely) get a chance to see the government/country visibly ruffled.

What this approach requires though at the same time is a large visible demonstration of personal interest; that is, showing that you care. People like a calm and unruffled government, but they don't like a cold and distant one.


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