At one point a few days ago, Somali pirates were holding hostages from the United States, Russia, Germany, France, Italy and the Philippines, sometimes on ships captured from those nations. At least a dozen other countries have sufffered losses to the pirates in the past.
There is something very, very wrong with this situation. A few hundred vicious Somali pirates, armed only with weapons that could be overcome by a good-sized city police force, are being allowed to victimize nations representing hundreds of millions of people.
Somali pirates have killed innocent seafarers, reaped millions of dollars in ransoms for people, ships and cargoes, and sometimes harmed their own countrymen. When seized last week, the U.S. vessel Maersk Alabama was carrying food intended for famine victims in Somalia, Rwanda and Uganda.
For years the pirates have been permitted to go about their deadly business with little or no interference. Occasionally, as occurred when the U.S. Navy freed the captain of the Maersk Alabama during the weekend, someone has the nerve to strike back. But pirate leaders, their bases and their arsenals remain untouched.
Why hasn't the United Nations done anything about the Somali pirates? The world body was established to help keep the peace. A U.N.-organized military strike could eliminate the nest of pirates operating from Somalia - and send a message that such criminals in the future will be dealt with swiftly and harshly.
If the United Nations will not do it, other countries - perhaps those listed above - should.
Piracy is another form of terrorism and the modern world should not have to put up with such a threat. It's time for peace-loving nations to join forces against this scourge.