On Monday, a gang of Somali men (high on khat, wielding Kalashnikovs, and seizing unarmed vessels, therefore qualifying either as pirates or a 'voluntary coast guard' depending on if you're a rational person or Al Sharpton, respectively) shot and killed their four hostages aboard the American yacht Quest. U.S. Navy vessels trailing the yacht killed two pirates and captured thirteen.
Two out of thirteen is a start.
But given the increasing problem of piracy off the coast of East Africa, and the tepid international response (led by President Obama, the Prince of Tepid), what is the U.S. to do?
The latest trend has been to hand such pirates over to Kenya, the closest relatively civilized country, for trial and some jail time if convicted. This is the penalty Somali pirates consider in their stimulant-hazed calculations of risk vs. million-dollar ransoms.
Perhaps we should alter the calculus. Here's what we should do:
The responding U.S. Navy ship should tow the pirates' vessel back to its home port. The captain should then convene a tribunal. Unless the pirates have a really good excuse for seizing ships and killing hostages ("We're a voluntary coast guard! Ask Al Sharpton!") they should be hanged from the yardarm in full view of their khat-sucking kin. I don't know if U.S. Navy ships still have yardarms, but if not, we'll send them back to port immediately and refit them, just for this.
Then the pirates' vessel should be set on fire and sunk; again, in full view of shore.
If the Somalis open fire on the U.S. ship, the U.S. captain should say "I got something for that" and open fire with .50 caliber machine guns, 5-inch rapid fire cannon, and possibly cruise missiles. Just for 'funsies.'
"What's that? They're shooting RPGs now? I got something for that, too" the U.S. captain should remark. Flipping a safety cover and pushing a big red button labeled "50 Gigawatt Cobalt Fusion Laser," a 50 gigawatt cobalt fusion laser mounted on a satellite in geosynchronous orbit would then incinerate the entire town, a bug-zapper of biblical proportion.
What's that? There's no such thing as a 50 gigawatt cobalt fusion laser? No problem; we'll make that too. Just for this.
That's the response I'd like to see.
Instead, we got SecState Hillary Clinton impassively offering condolences at a press conference, and promising more of the same vague, pointless half-measures.
What happened to you, America? You used to be beautiful...
I'm going a little Tarantino there. Maybe America should, too.