I am feeling a little sorry for Abduwali Muse, the pirate who has now pleaded guilty in New York to hijacking the Maersk Alabama off the Somali coast last year. That's the incident that saw Captain Richard Phillips taken hostage and eventually freed after American snipers killed three of Muse's fellow pirates.
As very few people would have any reason to know, I have a lot of respect for Capt. Phillips, who acted bravely, but, more importantly, lives in the Wadhams family seat of Underhill, Vermont and whose wife, Andrea Coggio, was briefly my uncle's sweetheart back when they were in middle school (true story).
Still, put aside Phillips' admirable trait of living in Vermont and his wife's discerning tastes, and pity Abduwali Muse. Prosecutors argue that he was the ringleader of the pirates who attacked the Maersk Alabama, a claim that is no doubt meant to get him a longer prison sentence but is almost certainly untrue. He was probably nothing more than a lowly peon in a much larger criminal enterprise. He's 18 years old (or 15, depending on whom you believe), a desperate kid who was trying get by in one of the most miserable places on Earth. Sure, piracy is bad, but he's no criminal mastermind.
Typing the above, I'm struck by the absurdity of even arguing about the case. It's bonkers to try a Somali pirate in the American legal system. It's not just that these are two different worlds. The two places seem to be governed by entirely different physical laws. It's like trying to use a lampshade to determine the philosophical leanings of a tiddlywink. The American legal system is so totally irrelevant to Somalia's piracy problem, and Abduwali Muse seems to have been caught in a drama that is much more about the U.S. trying to look tough than it is about anyone wanting to do something useful for Somalia.