Pres. Obama passed a major test of will -- he ordered the dispatch of the USS Bainbridge and its Navy SEALs who effected the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama after the ship had been captured by pirates, the Captain had exchanged himself for his captured crewmen, and the crew had retaken the vessel whilst Phillips remained captive of Somali pirates for more than two days.
Obama needed prodding -- the military reportedly urged Obama to act before the president did so, and only when it was apparent that the pirates would kill Phillips did the rescue occur. Indeed, Obama seems to have limited the SEALs' authority to act such that they did not initiate rescue attempts when Phillips sought to escape on Friday. And there had to be some embarrassment level within the administration as Obama dithered Thursday and Friday as the Maersk crewmen took matters into their own hands and retook their ship.
Kudos to the Navy SEALs who gunned down three pirates including the one with a rifle aimed at Phillips. And ultimately, the best outcome occurred -- Phillips was rescued, the pirates were killed and the SEALs' tremendous competence was displayed. This will be a triumph for Obama, which would become a greater one if the president took some initiative and ordered strong action against Somali pirates, who continue to hold more than 200 hostages.