John Keegan, writing in the London Telegraph, gets it exactly right:
“our campaign must be ruthless and pitiless: pirate ships must be sunk on sight and the crews left to swim to safety, if it can be reached. . . . [Pirates] needed to be hunted to extinction – and the time to start the hunt is now.”
Ms. Clinton was in error when she referred to the pirates as “criminals.” Historically pirates (and terrorists) are,
Distinctions between lawful and unlawful combatants go back to Roman times.
As the eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard argued shortly after 9/11, the status of al Qaeda terrorists is to be found in a distinction first made by the Romans and subsequently incorporated into international law by way of medieval and early modern European jurisprudence.
According to Mr. Howard, the Romans distinguished between bellum (war against legitimus hostis, a legitimate enemy) and guerra (war against latrunculi, pirates, robbers, brigands and outlaws).
Bellum became the standard for interstate conflict, and it is here that the Geneva Conventions were meant to apply. They do not apply to guerra. Indeed, punishment for latrunculi, "the common enemies of mankind," traditionally has been summary execution.(emphasis mine)
Black’s Law Dictionary
Those committing thefts on the high seas, inhibiting trade, and endangering maritime communication are considered by sovereign states to be hostis humani generis (enemies of humanity).
It seems to me that we have centuries if not eons of precedent how to go about handling piracy. Why try to reinvent what’s demonstrably proven to be a very successful and available response?