Not So Fast

Pirates Safe—for Now

The Somali pirates holding hostage a Saudi supertanker and its $100 million cargo have the American and British military right where they want them. “The risks [of a military rescue] are just too great,” said Lee Willett, a maritime security expert at the Royal United Services Institute. “It’s now more a matter of negotiating the size of the ransom.” Willett said a raid to free the hostages would be hard to justify given the potential for a massive loss of life. And then there are the legal issues. For a raid to be legal, it would require the permission of the country under which the ship flies, Liberia, and the country that owns it, Saudi Arabia, along with the operating company and the governments of each hostage on board—Britain, Poland, Croatia, and the Philippines. Given the chance of a peaceful solution by way of ransom, getting permission from all of those countries to perform a risky raid just won’t happen.