Pirate Problem

So India sank a so called “mothership” of the pirates operating off the Somali coast. This is good news in the sense that someone was finally able to do something of some significance against the pirates, but it really is more of a symbolic rather than menaingful act. What is one ship among who knows how many? And even after the sinking, there have been more pirate attacks, bringing the total for the year up to 120 attacks. And we still have six weeks to go before the new year.

This whole situation is ridiculous. It is ridiculous that there are pirates roaming the open seas, hijacking vessels and kidnapping people. It is ridiculous that it took the seizing of a Saudi Arabian supertanker to make the world pay attention. Sure, we noticed when a Ukraine ship carrying ammunition and weapons was seized, but we still didn’t show any real sign of caring. After all, those were just weapons, you know. Weapons that could be used by the pirates to conduct more assaults and seizures, like the one conducted against the supertanker that was seized.

We thought that it was a shame that some of the vessels that have been hijacked were carrying food and other supplies bound for the starving and war torn country of Somalia, but hey, those people have been fighting and starving for years so what’s a few more?

It is good that the world is now starting to take notice of this. It is good that world leaders are finally starting to look beyond the human rights violation/unjust suffering inducing distraction that is the US War on Terror and are fnally beginning to see that there are real and actual threats to the world that need to be addressed. One of these threats, which will not be easy to deal with, is the pirate threat. It is possible that if we were not stuck in the quagmire that is Iraq, the US would have more resources (money, aircraft for patrol, soldiers) to add to the ant-pirate movement. I know Iraq is in the desert, and you traditionally need ships to combat threats on the sea, but airplanes and helicopters work too. If we had mroe of these available, we might be in a better position to help and to lead the world against a true threat.

Sure, terrorism is a true threat, too, in that it kills innocent people and creates a general atomosphere of fear and uncertainty, but it does not directly threaten food and oil supplies as they move from one point of the world to the next. The planet is facing an oil shortage, an economic crisis, and a dwindling food and water supply. These (except for the oil if we would just get off our asses and admit it, find a viable alternate energy source and move on) are essential things to any country, society, civilization. And yet, the pirates conitnue to operate in the open and in vast numbers because there just aren’t the resources to fight them.

And now, finally, countries are taking action, but only on a small scale. There are meetings plannes, and strategies being played with, but nothing will be concrete until sometime next year, like January or February. Sure, that’s only two or three months away, but that will just be more time for the pirates to increase their collection of stolen ships and booty (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Better late than never, I suppose, but tell that to the 800 odd people that are being held captive by the pirates, or the starving people who in Somalia who are even worse off because what little food aid they were receiving has now been interecepted.

Taking on the Pirates will not be easy or cheap, but it is something that needs to be done. The worst part about this, I think, is that these attacks could have been prevented if the UN, US and others had taken a more active role in helping to establish a viable Somali government that could provide for the well being of its citizens. I am not talking about nation building, but taking a humanitarian interest and allowing them the opportunity to create their own legal government. That didn’t happen, though, because there was some resistance to the US and we lost 14 troops. That happened and we left. A short time later the UN left and Somalia has been in chaos ever since.

This is a tough situation and it will only get worse. I predict 150 pirate attacks by the end of the year becuase world governments move much too slow for anything real or effective to be done about the pirate problem in the next six weeks.

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2 comments on “Pirate Problem

  1. Pdub says:

    am i the only one who gets a warm feeling in his stomach knowing that there are still pirates out there, roaming the high seas?

  2. Possible solutions to the problem of Somali Piracy need to be based on the root causes of the problem. The symptoms of the causes of the problem are Somali pirates hijacking ships and holding crew members and ships for ransom.

    Some of the root causes of this piracy are:

    1. High Unemployment
    2. Easy access to weapons
    3. Little deterrence

    Possible general solutions based on these root causes are:

    1. To find / provide / create gainful employment for the pirates.
    2. Attempt to restrict the sales of weapons in the area. Interdiction, stronger enforcement, fines, disruption of supply lines…
    3. If we implement strong enough deterrence then many if not most pirates will find other, easier ways to make money.

    Possible Solutions.

    1. Turn some of the pirates into paid, protected informants and perimeter guards. This tactic significantly increases our intellgience on the ground and beefs up our deterrence. If we pay them then it keeps them gainfully employed and gives them a reason to give up piracy. This tactic effectively reduces the number of pirate attacks while at the same time better defends shipping.
    2. Ensure that our new allies (paid informant and defensive patrol pirates) are protected. I suggest well fortified compounds that include water, livestock, and farming. We need to provide them with a positive environment that they can thrive in, where trade can flourish. Let’s ensure that they can live off of the land or find other trades, skills and jobs so that they will not be tempted to go back to piracy in the future. (Think micro loans, US AID wells, farming livestock and supplies, etc.)
    3. Traps as deterrence. I suggest that we bait the pirates into attacking ships that we plant as traps. These ships should be loaded with soldiers and whatever equiment that they need to lure and kill / subdue pirates who attack. If the pirates attack enough of these ships and if there losses become high enough many will become frusrated and will find ways to feed themselves and their families.

    Let’s make sure that we do provide the local economy with enough alternate employment so that when we begin this campaign the pirates have other options to go to. They are much more likely to walk away if they have a different option than piracy.

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