Ron Paul: How to Fight Somali Pirates

Channel: Fox News
Date: 4/15/2009


Newscaster: These attacks on US ships off the coast of Africa pose a huge problem for the US Navy. The issue is real estate and manpower, just how do you police an area larger than the Eastern Seaboard of the United States while trying to fight two wars in the Middle East at the same time. One congressman has a new plan. It takes a page from the early days of our Republic. Joining us now on the phone is Texas congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Letters, what would these letters have to do with fighting piracy, Congressman?

Ron Paul: Well, the term is Letter of Marque and Reprisal. It was used in our early history, ironically to fight piracy. And that means that Congress gets involved. We have an enemy. Somebody wants to attack or doing some damage to us, but there’s no government to declare war, so it’s a token type of declaration of war where you give the authority to the individuals involved, which would be the ship owners and the captain of the ship and it would be an international agreement that they will be authorized to be official representatives of our country and that they can, under the rules of war, fight anybody who wants to take their ship, which means that they would be armed and the pirates would know this and that they would have to defend those vessels.

There’s no way our Navy can do it and once we do get involved, I mean there’s ramifications from that because right now after having killed those three, it looks like things would be ratcheted up in many ways. Of course, one big way is that we probably double the size of our Navy pretty soon just because of this incident.

Newscaster: So essentially, you would be making people seagoing bounty hunters.

Ron Paul: Well, they don’t get a bounty. They get rewarded by having more safety. They are the people who are most likely to protect their ships are the people who own it and they would have an incentive.

Now, they are told by many countries, including ours that they can’t carry guns, and that they shouldn’t be resisting. That’s what they told us before 9/11. The airliners weren’t allowed to carry guns and they weren’t supposed to resist and that set the stage for somebody taking over these aircraft, and this is essentially what we’ve done with these vessels.

But it’s also the whole mess over there is a reflection of our foreign policy as well because we’ve been involved in Somalia for a long time. You know, Clinton got in a mess over there and Bush hired out the Ethiopians to go in and try to settle the disputes and it was thought to be in our interest to maintain control of that area and I don’t think that is true.

Newscaster: Well…

Ron Paul: And it will only lead to more problems.

Newscaster: I’m sure you’ve heard the critics though of these Letters of Marque idea. They say that it would be a dangerous idea potentially to take a colonial-era document or solution to a problem and try to apply it in a modern day and that you could run into a situation where, you know, innocent fishermen are getting blown out of the water in Somalia. What do you say?

Ron Paul: Then they’re responsible because they’ve signed a contract as to what they’re doing and they’re held liable and responsible for everything that they do. They’re not lawless, they’re under the law. But if you say that it should be to resort for the government shooting up all these vessels, sometimes they do more damage than the private owners might do. I would say those people who complain about using something 200 years old or resorting to the use of violence that been known for maybe 5,000 years, and that certainly hasn’t solved our problems either.

Newscaster: Interesting concept. We’ll keep an eye on it. Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Thank you.

Ron Paul: Thank you.