Pirates Win Again

So remember last week when the world was happy (myself included) that the Indian Navy sunk a pirate “mother ship.” Well, it turns out, that wasn’t really the case. See, the supposed “mother ship” wasn’t really that at all, but rather a Thai fishing trawler, that had been seized by pirates a few hours earlier. Okay, so at least there were pirates on board, but I wonder why it took this long for people to realize what had happened.

I have some conspiracy theories, to be sure. The first, and most obvious is that India knew that it was not a pirate mother ship, but did not want to admit to sinking a vessel that belonged to another country by accident. And the second, only slightly less obvious, is that the sinking of the ship allowed for good press and propaganda. After all, the world is up in arms about the pirate problem, and it is a problem make no mistake about that, and what better way than to drum up a quick success and  make it seem like we can do something about these meancaers of the high seas by claiming to have sunk one of their floating fortresses. It’s like every time we hear about a key terrorist leader being killed–the implication is that we can win the war (whether it’s on pirates or on terrorists, which admittedly the line is very fine). Now I am not saying that India sunk the trawler knowing that it was a Thai boat, but that possibility has not completely escaped my attention or consideration.

One of the Thai crew members is known to have been killed on the trawler after it was hit by fire from the Indian boat, and fourteen others are missing. They are probably dead too, but let’s hope not because life is precious and these poor men were just fishing and trying to earn a living when they were commandeered by pirates (who don’t even wear puffy shirts or eye-patches and with nary a parrot or a peg leg to be seen) and then sunk by a big Indian warship. All they wanted to do was catch fish, and it is a shame that they most likely lost their lives (and at the very least their boat) because of it.

It remains to be seen what kind of effect this will have on the anti-piracy operations in the region, but my guess is that effect will be little to none. This is a tragedy, and steps need to be taken to help insure that others like it do not follow, but I doubt that will happen. The UN, what is supposed to be the world’s peacekeeper and deal maker, has essentially become worthless and powerless, essentially irrelevant. America has ignored it. Russia has ignored it. The people of Somalia and Darfur have ignored it. It no longer has any true ability to broker deals or work out treaties that might provide oversight to operations of this nature. And so far the countries who have sent ships to the pirate infested waters have yet to compile an operational mandate. I think things will just get hairier, especially after Blackwater and other private security firms join in on the action.

Oh sure, America threatens to listen to the UN and pull out of Iraq if a new security deal is not made, but that is not because we put any faith in the power of the UN (to Bush’s way of thinking WE ARE the UN) but because we want to pressure the Iraqis into signing a pact that benefits our monetary interests more than it does their safety and reconstruction ones. And, for Bush, who has said that we will stay until the job is done, this could be a nice way of getting out of Iraq without admitting defeat. After all, if he is finally going to recognize the UN now when when the question of US operation in Iraq is on the table, it is quite clear that he is looking for a way without having to admit that he was wrong.

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