Comes the horsemen of the Somali apocalypse, in dinghy and dhow in the middle of the vast Indian Ocean, lethal weaponry at hand after hijacking an American freighter and taking its captain as hostage.
Comes the U.S. Navy, FBI, CIA, State Department and goodness knows who else, while foreign navies watch the world's lone superpower held at bay for days by four paltry buccaneers.
They are from a Third World mess. but as close to a Fourth World catastrophe. Still, these are a people bent on providing a learning experience for the U.S. We are experts at war, much less so whenever we're in the middle of Mideast or African cat-and-mouse drama.
Now Navy warships and drones monitor every breath. That's a lot of technology for an ancient people.
We went into Somalia a few years ago to keep the peace. When that didn't work, we had a shot, a real deadly shot at the Somali brass and lost it primarily because we lost a few GIs. Their heroim saluted, we should have gone into Somali like the gangbusters we were in Iraq, then unleashed our own brand of nation building on the Horn of Africa.
Would have worked, too. For sure, we would have stood a better shot than that tribal curse of Sunni, Shiite and Kurd in Iraq.
Now we have only ourselves to blame. Because no matter how the hijackers of the Maersk Alabama fare against the American Navy, the United States will have a stern challenge in dealing with the poorest of the poor, a growing population who have no saner choice than to resort to piracy -- or terrorism -- to survive.