Friday, November 21, 2008

Pirates’ Heaven

Off Somalia’s vast Indian Ocean coastline, a set of entrepreneurial Somalis have found gainful employment in one of the world’s most impoverished settings. The Horn of Africa is the setting for a latter day “Barbary Pirates,” where ragtag groups equipped with GPS devices, rocket-propelled grenades and assorted machine guns roam at will, boarding supertankers and cargo vessels at a rate of about two per week. As a result, some 15 dormant ships are now berthed in lawless yet booming Somali ports.

Perhaps oil-thirsty America can bid for some of those oil-filled supertankers on the cheap and quietly fill our strategic oil reserve. Call it pragmatic politics if you will – an attempt to counter-balance the oil-slicked Saudi and Iranian financing of Hamas, Hezbollah and Tablighi Jamaat, the group at the forefront of the Islamic missionary and revival movement.

I write in all seriousness. Media reports about the globe’s latest pirates’ haven outline the infuriating helplessness of international authorities. In 1805, the U.S. Marines decimated the slew of pirate havens along "the shores of Tripoli,” as the famous song goes. Why not take direction from a 200 year old success?

This is not a scenario that lends itself to Obama-like negotiation – let’s keep that delicacy for our irascible friends Putin, Ahmadinejad and Chavez, etc. Instead, a NATO Navy assemblage supplemented by our Asian allies could implement some effective 19th century policies. All suspicious boats in the Horn of Africa area will be boarded and searched for weapons; those offering resistance will be ignominiously sent to Davy Jones’ locker. Other boats found with weapons will preferably be destroyed, with pirates summarily turned over to the authorities in the semi-autonomous Puntland region – the only effective government in the country – for long term imprisonment. To ensure compliance – after all, it seems some local officials have been taking a cut of pirate ransoms – NATO members could tangle the prospect of recognition before the leaders of this breakaway territory. What’s more, the shipping and insurance industries relevant to the area could be taxed modestly to cover a prison fee, say $100 per month per prisoner. This sorely needed foreign exchange will ensure the Puntland authorities willing compliance in keeping the pirates under lock-and-key as a permanent disincentive to budding bandits.

It should not be long before these remaining entrepreneurs of the sea find alternative employment.

Problem solved.

Now back to the cheap oil tankers?

“Pirates’ Delight” Wall Street Journal (Nov. 19, 2008)
“Pirates Exploit Confusion About International Law” Wall Street Journal (Nov. 19, 2008)
“Somali pirates turn villages into boomtowns” The Associated Press (Nov. 19, 2008)
Somali Islamists 'hunt pirates' BBC News (Nov. 21, 2008)
"How To Deal With Pirates" by Michael B. Oren Wall Street Journal (Nov.22-23, 2008)

Published on "The Absurd Report"

Published on

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thomas L. Friedman (of The New York Times) on Energy

Friedman writes eloquently of a seemingly radical yet eminently sensible and largely ignored concept that could potentialize the most important issues of our day:

- immediate energy conservation (oil)
- sizable development of alternative sources
- reduce oil funding to Jihadist/terrorism supporting countries
- directly reduce funding thereby for terrorist organizations
- reduction of our national debt and our negative balance of payments
- reduction of targeted taxes for all of America’s citizens
- ultimate reduction in the price of gasoline at the pump

Below Friedman’s recent article I provide a link to a related article I wrote some time ago on the same crucial solution for our time. Enjoy.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda by Thomas L. Friedman The New York Times: November 14, 2007

“Forcing the Oil Price Lower” by Leslie J. Sacks August 25, 2008

“The world is still flat” by Ben Naparstek The International Jerusalem Post: October 24-30, 2008, a review of Friedman’s latest book:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Leaving Chicago

A most interesting report from informs us that during the recent summer months (May 26th - September 1st, 2008), more Americans were shot and killed in Chicago (an estimate of 125) than in the whole of war-torn Iraq (65 U.S. soldiers). This astounding statistic begs the question:

When will we hear a strident call emerging from the bowels of the anti-war machine of Harry Reid and his Democrat minions for America to immediately withdraw from Obama's hometown of Chicago? We (of course) just can't abide the wasted lives, the unnecessary deaths – just as we cannot in Iraq.

Harry Reid, you showed your mettle with Iraq; now show us the way out of Chicago. Then, perhaps, we could review our continuing occupation of Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland, New Orleans, St. Louis...

Let's withdraw while we can.