President Obama gets credit for authorizing this action and the use of lethal force. This may help his credibility among our enemies. He has proved that he will order the death of foreign nationals in order to save an American.
That resolved the short-term crisis but not the long-term problem of piracy. There are several possible results:
- Somalis may think twice about pirating in the future. This is very unlikely. There is too much money to be made by piracy. In fact, four ships have been hijacked since the rescue.
- Somalis may leave American-flagged ships alone but continue raiding other ships. This is probably the best that we can hope for but it is still unlikely. Again, there is too much money involved.
- Somalis may escalate attacks against US-flagged ships. Some pirates promised this when they heard of the dead pirates. I am skeptical. Right now crews are willing to surrender to the pirates because they can count on good treatment. If the pirates start beating or killing captives then ships will be more likely to fight back.
- Nothing will change. This is most likely given the events of the last couple of days.
I expect President Obama to take the opposite approach - try to stop the pirates through increased patrols. Historically this has never worked. The surest way to eliminate pirates is to deny them safe harbor.