The captain of the Maersk Alabama is safe, but it took the the world's most powerful Navy four days to get him out of a lifeboat manned by a handful of fishermen turned kidnappers.
As grateful as Americans have to be over the rescue of Richard Phillips, his travail adds a punctuation mark to what the military experts call asymmetrical warfare but looks very much like impotence in the face of lawless attacks by those who have nothing to lose in a world of asymmetrical power and wealth.
On all sides, 21st century sophistication is beset by crazed criminals--Taliban thugs who live in caves, Pakistani gunmen who terrorize India's most upscale city, drug dealers who make a shooting gallery out of America's Mexican border--and there seem to be no answers to what is more like the gang warfare of the Roaring Twenties than the high-tech world of today.
Afghanistan, Iraq et al are treated as military and diplomatic dilemmas, but the world is looking more and more like one big crime scene.
Where is Eliot Ness when we need him now?