The triumphant end to the Somali pirate crisis let President Barack Obama sail unscathed out of a tricky political squall and may have earned him early stripes as US commander-in-chief.
The seizure by heavily-armed pirates of US merchant Captain Richard Phillips was widely portrayed in the US media as a first test of nerve for the new president, at a time when political critics were ready to pounce.
Finally, there comes an end to negotiations with international thugs.
The surgical removal by snipers to take out three of the pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips wasn’t without future risk to those who venture into the Indian Ocean but it may be the only approach the kidnappers from Somalia understand. And if it leads to more violence as hand wringers warn, it may just be the price of securing some freedom on the high seas. Furthermore, a decision to continue to negotiate rather than respond firmly undoubtedly would prolong the overall threat to shipping that has emboldened the brigands and made them wealthy with ransom money.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Bush Cabinet officer who agreed to remain in place in the Obama administration, is demonstrating considerable policy courage.
So far, at least, he has shown himself to be a man for all seasons, politically speaking. In a very partisan time, with particularly intense rancor between Democrats and Republicans, he has been quite adept at bridging the great divide. Indeed, Gates is the first Pentagon head in history to continue in the post after an election resulted in a change in party in the White House.