Anybody that has ever held a job involving high risk, danger/peril or a stewardship involving the safety of others understands the concept of liability, the simple fact that with that duty comes a responsibility to act reasonable and prudent, and when venturing beyond those parameters, the repercussions can be great. A soldier falls asleep on guard duty and his company is over run by the enemy, an airline pilot reports to work drunk off his ass and runs his plane off the runway, the fireman decides ,”Damn, those flames sure are high” and ignores the screams for help from a burning building, the cop that won’t budge from the booth of a donut shop even when a rape is going down in plain sight outside, a personal failing causing great harm to others.
But people, average folks, also have a responsibility to not be reckless and to act properly. I remember when the helmet and seat belt laws first came out. My usual initial reaction to much of this stuff is ,”Enough already, we have too many laws as it is, if people want to kill themselves, have at it”. The problem is that individual behavior always affects others, there is no such thing as a tree falling down in the forest and no one hears it, now days everyone hears it and it usually falls on someone in the process.
Last week when we heard about the amazing rescue by ST6 of that woman in Somalia, I understood the euphoria. No American fatalities, 9 dead Somali pirates, in and out with the hostages, what’s not to like? But my initial reaction was this, why were they there in the first place? As if people live in caves anyway, doesn’t the State Dept. warn people against visiting certain unstable countries? Is there a more dangerous at risk place on the planet then Somalia? When I heard about her situation, the charity work she was doing, my outrage was mitigated somewhat, but what if this rescue went bad, an RPG turned it all into another Blackhawk Down episode, and we had more dead soldiers on our hands, all because an American citizen put herself in to a position of danger.
This morning I read about another Bay Area man who was just kidnapped in Somalia, and I’m thinking to myself, here we go again. This guy was no aid worker, he was researching a book, he totally ignored the State Dept’s warning to stay out of Somalia, he put himself in harms way and he got himself kidnapped in the process.
I assume that our government is not bargaining with these pirates and are not offering to pay some of my tax dollars for his release. But say a few months into this ordeal we find out that he is not faring well in captivity and exhibits some medical problems, do we send ST6 back in for yet one more rescue of a dumb ass who should not have been there in the first place?
Some precedence has already been established for those flaunting personal responsibility. If you find the need to go spelunking in an active volcano and need rescuing, the authorities will come save your ass, then give you a bill for their efforts. Ditto for the idiot that goes pleasure sailing in a hurricane, or mountain climbing during a snow storm, we won’t leave you stranded, but you got’s to pay for your idiocy.
But this Somali rescue business is serious stuff. Unlike machine gunning pirate vessels in the Indian Ocean, where the risks are minimal, incursions well into hostile territory for civilian rescues are fraught with all kinds of complications. And the fact that we have now done it in two separate and well publicized occasions, both done with flawless precision and execution, should not cloud the fact that they are risky.
The fact that out military might and reach can go to almost anywhere on the planet and save one of our own, yes, that is pretty awesome. But the simple fact that we don’t do it on a regular basis (those two numb nutted kids hiking on the wrong side of the Iranian border come to mind) is also re assuring, from a risk/reward perspective.
I don’t know what the going rate for a flunky journalist is, and I hope that things turn out well for him, maybe having rich parents that can pony up the ransom money, but baring any additional info. (the guy is a CIA operative with personal knowledge of every agent on the African continent) the thought of more military men risking their lives in yet another rescue is a bit unsavory for me.