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


Anonymous said...

So being armed is a criteria to have your boat seized and sunk? Seems to me that if tankers and freighters had a couple of .50 caliber machine guns, hand weapons and RPGs would not be much threat.

Demanding that all parties be disarmed only assures that all are sitting ducks, and there is no prevailing law on the high seas. No one even pretends to take responsibility.

Mel Rosenstein said...


I love your solution. There is one problem with this. It is my understanding that the "wonderful" U.N., that body of stupidity and irrationality, has passed resolutions to not allow individual Countries to bargain for the ransom but they must leave that to the owners of the shipping companies. This "brilliant" coup by the U.N. precludes any effective disincentive to the Pirates. Probably the U.N. will next find some way to blame it all on Israel.


John Davey said...

Pirates should be blotted fullstop and any unlikely survivors denied access to any free and fair Courts that take so long and are so outrageously expensive...It is the one and only language these villians understand and respond to quickly and positively. However, with the Democrats now in control I believe that typically they will most definitely try and adopt a softer and more gentle approach, something that meets the approval of President Putin, Chairman Hu, Hugo Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Kim Jong Il, Oprah Whinfrey, Bono etc. They will first try and analyse the pirates whole psychology and then try and find them some different form of employment, maybe in the NYSE or the Fed or with one of the Columbian drug cartels or something along those lines. In all likelihood they may even try and fathom out whether their aggressive behaviour may have something to do perhaps with their deprived upbringing and background that may be somehow linked to the way they were treated by their former colonial masters. After all, it is now generally accepted by those living in the West that those former colonialist racist oppressors were the root cause of all things evil, then, now and forever more....not just in Somalia but the whole African continent with Mugabe being a perfect example.

John Davey

November 26, 2008 10:40 AM

Leslie Sacks said...

To the anonymous post:

Correct - it seems companies and governments are not comfortable with defensive measures, which would be cost-effective and successful.

Leslie Sacks

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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