Media pressure on the government to dispatch the South African Navy on a counter-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa may be counterproductive.
Indications are the government simply does not want to send the Navy on such a mission and public pressure will simply cause it to dig in its heals.
I can think of no good reason why “we” should not join the 23 or so countries that have already deployed forces to the Gulf of Aden and adjacent waters to fight an explosion in the incidence of piracy there over the last two years.   
To date not one African country has joined the effort that has seen unprecedented collaboration on the high seas, with mainland Chinese ships escorting Taiwanese vessels and the US working with Iran.
If ever there was an African problem begging an African solution, this is it.
But for reasons I, for one, cannot fathom, Cabinet does not seem to agree.  
Some of my colleagues believe the problem lies in SA`s foreign policy, which they see as irrational, one remarking that government has yet to meet a dictator it won`t suck up to. The latest incident of this must be former President Thabo Mbeki going to New York to plead for Sudan`s Omar Hassan al-Bashir who was last week indicted before the International Criminal Court that SA played a big role in creating.
I believe our foreign policy is quite rational, it is just not government practice.
While there is always a tension between policy, which can be idealistic, and practice, which must be, well, practical, the gulf between policy and practice is particularly wide in this case.
Our Navy has the capacity to deploy a force and fly an African flag off the east coast. It has told Cabinet this and apparently was slapped down for its trouble. Go figure.          
If I could Cabinet one thing, it would be to tell us what the problem is. It might even repeat the answer a few times to give it the force of truth.
Perhaps we might then move on.