41 responses to “The Solution to Piracy: Self-Defense and Marque & Reprisal”

  1. Kenny

    The Somalia government, let say for grins it exist, has the internationally recognized right to do as it pleases with 12 NM of their coast. It also has the right to regulate non-transient commercial activity up to 200 nm, such as fishing and drilling.

    Arming ship moving through the area make sense, and would very cheap.

    However Ron Paul is wrong about issuing a license, (which is what a letter of marque is) to Blackwater to go into Somalia and arrest the pirates, under US law, would be received by the international community.

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    1. Mike

      Greg,

      Re the U.S. restoring law and order...well, that's one of the reasons for our intervention just about anywhere-including Somalia 12+- years ago. It always starts out that way, then ends up with people such as yourself criticizing us for it. If we're going to go through the hardship, in lives and dollars, of intervening anywhere, I say we have a right to do it in a way that benefits our self interest. It's an ugly business no matter how you go about it, so all else being equal we might as well benefit, perhaps by ending up with a leader sympathetic to U.S. interests. To expect pure altruism is naive.

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  2. Mike

    Greg...exactly WHAT policies of the Bush Admin? I know certain people take it as an article faith that W. is to blame for evrything, but the FACT is that no President ever did more for the people of Africa than him. He is actually quite revered there- even Bono knows it.

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    1. Mike

      Greg, don't assume you're more informed because you read Zmag. Maybe you're the one who knows absolutely nothing. Everyone spins- everyone, from Deocracynow to CNN to Fox, and to assume your source doesn't is as patently arrogant and close-minded as you're trying to make me out to be.
      Which only makes eodltc's contribution to this nice little chat even better. Frankly, I do not care why pirates are pirates, or muggers are muggers, or racists are racists. To try to solve the roots of such enormous problems ALWAYS results in people chasing their tails until there is no right and wrong. Well I KNOW that piracy, mugging, and racism are wrong. To endlessly dig for answers that simply aren't there (other than "it's all our fault") only destroys one's moral compass.

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      1. Mike

        I don't think I ever said anything about blowing anyone out of the water. My understanding is that a good number of these criminals have been tried in Kenyan courts. How about a World Court? I dunno- I imagine that wouldn't mean much to a sailor on a merchant vessel with an AK-47 in his or her face, a perspective which I think validates Cong. Paul's point. Understand this, though: if we can't even go so far as to even identify the pirates as criminals, we enter an endless cycle of platitutes and meaningless phrases like "a more viable option may be found." Like what....Option 2 perhaps?
        One other point: where exactly did these poor starving Somali's get the guns and fancy boat? And who is fencing the booty? Sounds to me like someone needs to get overthrown, but I guess that would be...what's the word...arrogant?

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        1. Greg

          They got the guns and boats by stealing them. They are ransoming ships and their crews for multi-million dollar ransoms. It was actually rather peaceful (insurance companies paid the ransoms and the crew were relatively well treated) until they took a ship under US flag and we wouldn't play ball. I'm not saying that we should have paid up and I believe the situation was well handled. But you can't solve piracy on a case by case basis. You have to correct the underlying problem which means nation-building. We destroyed Somalia and we have a moral and humanitarian obligation to restore law & order. Reparations need to be paid by the criminal dumpers for the damage done by illegal polution and over-fishing.

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        2. Joe Blow

          "It was actually rather peaceful (insurance companies paid the ransoms and the crew were relatively well treated) until they took a ship under US flag and we wouldn’t play ball."

          So as long as they don't kill anyone, piracy is OK with you?

          "I’m not saying that we should have paid up and I believe the situation was well handled. But you can’t solve piracy on a case by case basis."

          Sure you can. In every case, kill the pirates. Problem solved.

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        3. Greg

          So when crews of these cargo ships start coming home in body bags and boats continue to be hijacked, this will constitute an improvement because you killed a couple of African thugs? Sure you get to wave your dick around like you're some sort of big man, but now the situation is even worse. We can't stop the bombings ON LAND in Iraq despite all the US military stationed over there. It is absurd to think you're going to stop them AT SEA by giving pop-guns to a few sailors.

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  3. Joshua

    Greg, your argument is totally insane. We could spend an eternity trying to make up for past mistakes and it will never be enough (Native Americans ring any bells ?). Maybe we should all move to Somalia to make up for what we did to the Indians.

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    1. Greg

      It was the British who colonized India. Americans bear no guilt for their treatment of the Indians.

      I'm not talking about ancient history. I am talking about the policies over the last few years of the Bush Administration.

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      1. Mike

        Greg…exactly WHAT policies of the Bush Admin? I know certain people take it as an article faith that W. is to blame for everything, but the FACT is that no President ever did more for the people of Africa than him. He is actually quite revered there, although it never paid off politically since leftist activists such as Bono & Geldof would rather eat shit than thank a Republican for anything..

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        1. Greg

          I'm talking about the US backing Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia.

          More info here:

          http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Africa/Somalia_America's_Role.html

          There's no reason for me or anyone to resort to making up things to blame on the Bush Administration. The FACTS will be sufficient to keep people busy for generations to come.

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          1. Mike

            Well, I checked the link. Honestly, it didn't exactly seem like the most reliable source (anybody out there want to back me up here?), but even conceding its validity, you have to admit in any situation like this there are 2 options: 1) do nothing, and 2) build a nation. History shows that when option 2 is chosen, no matter who is footing the bill, you choose your poison. To be blunt, Somalia would be a shithole no matter what anyone does.
            Furthermore, you never did acknowledge Joe Blow's excellent point that the pirates prey on ships well outside any possible Somalian sovereignty. They're just thugs, pure and simple, no different than a mugger in Central Park.

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          2. Greg

            Mike, the article is reprinted from Zmag.org. Sure, the particular site that reprinted it is a bit sketchy, but I didn't want to waste my time tracking down the original. It was clearly credited to Zmag.org at the beginning.

            Your assertion that there are two options is false. You have made the assumption that bombing the shit out of Somalia and overthrowing their government was inevitable. I am saying that if you are going to choose to cause such massive destruction to a nation, then there is a humanitarian obligation to keep innocent civilians from starving to death. Option 2, as you call it, was effectively chosen when we chose to overthrow a foreign government. Just like we did in Iraq. That is why we have to stop pulling that shit. It's not good enough to say "bring the troops home" after the fact. We need to have the foresight not to get them into that situation in the first place.

            As for Joe Blow. His is not an "excellent point" because it perpetuates the fallacy that westerners can act lawlessly in Somali waters yet continue to hold Somalis to act lawfully in international waters. That is like punching someone in the face and then insisting that your victim cannot strike back because to do so would be "assault".

            Finally, your comment about Somalia being a "shithole" is pure ignorance. Why do you feel entitled to an opinion about something you know absolutely nothing about?

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  4. eodltc

    I do not care 'WHY' pirates are pirates. Nor do I concern myself with the 'influences and conditions' that led to piracy as a way of life for these individuals.

    Lets us go back to the issue of identifying the best method for stopping the piracy. Personnally, I do not think that we will ever end all piracy; however, we should be active in making hard targets of the vessels under the US flag. They should have our tacit approval and encouragement to vigorously defend themselve.

    This will not end piracy, but it will make the pirates look for easier targets. The protection of US citizens and vessels is all I care about. Pirates are not fools and they are not particulary brave or hard working. They will shift their focus from those vessels that fight back.

    Government action is not the answer, self reliance is what will make the pirates search for easier pickings.

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    1. Greg

      If another nation's vessels snuck to the Cape Cod shore to dump toxic waste or loot our fisheries, there would be an outcry to protect our sovereignty. If the government were unable to deal wuith the problem and citizens took to the waters to protect our coast, they would be cheered as patriots.

      The WHY's do matter because in order to find a solution to conflict you first must understand people's motivation in order to solve the issue. If the solution consists of nothing more than retaliation, then all you will get is escalation.

      Why is it objectionable to insist that western nations behave lawfully and refrain from poluting and plundering Solmali waters? It makes no sense that we would expect the Somalis to behave lawfully if we do not likewise behave lawfully.

      The bottom line is that the Somali's are entirely justified to protect their waters and exact compensation for the theft and damages done to their property. If you don't like it then find another trade route.

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      1. eodltc

        Greg,
        Just so I understand your logic (or lack thereof): "Somalis engage in piracy as retalliation against the US for dumping toxic waste along their coastline."

        Pardon me while I throw the 'BS' card on your assinine argument that is irrelevant to the discussion.

        I suggest that you go hug a tree and kiss a whale to calm your nerves.

        Pirates are pirates. Nothing more and nothing less. Merchants and the sovereign nations must make the risk outweigh the payoff. When, and only when, the pirates are faced with the reality that the odds of a successful raid are less than those of being caught/killed in the act will they stop.

        Then again, maybe if the merchant ships all get a big sign that proclaims thier deep seated concern for 'Going Green', maybe the pirates will let them pass in peace.

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        1. Greg

          > make the risk outweigh the payoff

          this only makes sense if there is another viable option for survival. The pirates have no other options available so it doesn't matter how high you make the risk. It will always be a better deal than starving to death and they will not stop not matter how many of their countrymen are caught or killed. Rep. Paul's solution will only increase the bloodshed and do nothing to make shipping any safer.

          This has nothing to do with going green or whales. Ad hominem: refuge of those without a leg to stand on.

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        2. Sean

          your stupid edotic. why don't you educate yourself.

          http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article418665.ece

          people in somalia don't even live past the age of 30 because the brittish dumped toxic waste in their ocean killing all the fish. The people are forced to become pirates or their families will starve. Even south park released an episode about this. Your ignorance is a joke.

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          1. Sean

            i suggest you grow up and stop trying to put down people with your stupidity.

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          2. Sean

            http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1356730/posts

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          3. eodltc

            Sean, you gain your 'factual' support for an argument from an episode of 'South Park, yet you tell me to get educated. And you begin your reply by name-calling.

            Sorry that I presented a point for which you have no counter and were forced to use fallacy to attempt your show of superiority.

            Bottom line, get a life son. People of your ilk do little more than annoy me, and you are not even worth that.

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          4. Joe Blow

            "The people are forced to become pirates or their families will starve."

            *******************************

            Excuse me, but how does jacking a tanker full of crude oil or a cargo ship full of military equipment prevent their families from starving?

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          5. Joe Blow

            "The bottom line is that the Somali’s are entirely justified to protect their waters and exact compensation for the theft and damages done to their property. If you don’t like it then find another trade route."

            *******************************

            You DO know that they are jacking ships more than THREE HUNDRED miles off the coast, right?

            And 300+ miles is just a bit outside "Somalian waters", which extend no further than 12 miles off the coast.

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          6. Greg

            To paraphrase Saturday Night Live: Joe Blow, you ignorant slut.

            Somalia has exclusive economic rights extending up to 200 nautical miles off of the coast. Not the 12 mile figure that I assume you pulled out of your ass.

            See article 57:
            http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/unclos_e.pdf

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        3. Greg

          By the way, you evaded the question of why international merchants should be exempt from the rule of law.

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          1. Joe Blow

            "Somalia has exclusive economic rights extending up to 200 nautical miles off of the coast. Not the 12 mile figure that I assume you pulled out of your ass."

            *********************************************

            No, I pulled it out of the UNs ass:

            Section 2, Article 3.

            http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part2.htm

            >>>"Breadth of the territorial sea

            Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with this Convention."<<<

            But that doesn't really matter, because even if Somalia claims and has been granted a 200 nm EEZ, the area where the ships are being jacked is 304 nautical miles off the coast. Do the math. That's more than 100 nautical miles outside their EEZ.

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          2. Greg

            Blah blah blah. The point remains that westerners drew first blood.

            1. Europeans poluted the waters and decimated the fisheries.
            2. Most attacks are within the EEZ although some are further out.
            3. Arming merchant vessels will only lead to an escalation of violence and will not reduce piracy.
            4. The United States is directly responsible for the chaos in Somalia and have a moral and humanitarian obligation to restore stability in Somalia. If we don't want to be in the business of nation building, then we need to get out of the business of nation-destroying.

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          3. Joe Blow

            Blah blah blah. The point remains that westerners drew first blood.

            1. Europeans poluted the waters and decimated the fisheries.
            2. Most attacks are within the EEZ although some are further out.
            3. Arming merchant vessels will only lead to an escalation of violence and will not reduce piracy.
            4. The United States is directly responsible for the chaos in Somalia and have a moral and humanitarian obligation to restore stability in Somalia. If we don’t want to be in the business of nation building, then we need to get out of the business of nation-destroying.
            ********************************************************

            That's nice. Your argument has been defeated, so your respond with an insult.

            #1. And that makes piracy OK in your mind?

            #2. So it's OK for them to commit piracy if the ship is within 200nm of Somalia?

            #3. No, it will escalate the number of pirates killed when they try to jack a ship in INTERNATIONAL WATERS.

            #4. Right... we tried to help them once before. Remember what happened?

            Why don't you enlighten us all and tell us when piracy ISN'T acceptable?

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          4. Greg

            1. No, it makes the western nations responsible for the conditions that allow piracy to flourish. We must take responsibility for our actions.

            2. No. It makes it illegal for western nations to use those waters for dumping toxic waste and over-fishing. Again, we need to take responsibility for our illegal actions.

            3. And seamen will start coming home in body bags. Tactics will surely change and boat will be sunk and lives will be lost. I wouldn't be surprised if the insurance companies, who are footing the bill for the ransoms paid, don't prevent the arming of ships. They'd much rather ransom the boat than see it sunk or the crew killed (wrongful death payouts and all).

            4. I think we can all agree we need in the future to get out of the business of toppling foreign governments. But now that we've done it, we gotta clean up our own mess. My dog shits in your yard then I need to clean it up.

            I never said that piracy is acceptable. I said it is a result of US and European actions in the region and we left a big mess that we need to clean up. The rule of law must apply equally to the pirates as well as to westerners. Our actions have been no less illegal. I believe that arming merchant ships will only escalate the violence and will do nothing to solve the problem until the underlying causes (anarchy, pollution, starvation) are addressed.

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    2. Sean

      I wish you were in Somalia right now edotic starving without hope, than people could talk about you like you talk about them.. You would pray for god and everything that is holy to fix this problem instead of ignoring the fact that we destroyed all their food.

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      1. Sean

        I didn't gain factual support from south park. This is OLD NEWS and your just a young prick.

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        1. Sean

          I mean seriously, how could we fix anything by ignoring the root cause of the problem. That's just stupid.. Thats like saying the federal reserve is the problem for the economy but we should just ignore that fact and protect ourselves the best we can.

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          1. Sean

            Lets just think about this for one second, i bet we could come up with an idea.... how about we spend a tiny fraction of money to build aquariums so the people can raise fish and feed the hunger. WOW! we could end piracy and save lives.. Lets think about your idea.. Lets arm ourselves and kill them off so they will start taking over other countries smaller vessels. hmmmmmmmm.. I would like to hear you explain your counter of peace with war.

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          2. Liza

            With what money are we to build aquariums in somalia? What about the children in the US who go hungry? Why is it the responsibility of the US to fix the world?

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  5. Gus

    It is time for us to allow merchant vessels to arm themselves against attack by pirates. Blow them out of the water before they have a chance to do damage to our shipping. If a pirate or other intruder tries to come into my home, which is my castle, he will be met by firepower to blow him away. All legal!

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    1. Greg

      Why do you believe that merchant vessels have a right to intrude into Somalia's "castle"? You seem to be a bit confused about who is the aggressor. The "pirates" are using what firepower they have to defend their "castle." So when some dude shows up at your front door with a bigger dick.... I mean gun, he will be entitled to trash your home and take your food and leave you to starve to death?

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  6. Greg

    >how about not doing the coast guard thing AND not doing the puppet army thing.

    It's too late. The damage has been done. Take a look. There is no government. No rule of law. No coast guard. The US has to stop acting like a child and stand up and take responsibility for its actions. It makes no sense to escalate the cycle of aggression and retaliation. It's moronic. It's the operating policy of both sides of the Palastine/Isreal conflict and that area is still a disaster. Any solution to the piracy issue has to include protection of the Somali coast from illegal pollution and over-fishing. Otherwise piracy will continue to plague the area with the added development that it will become a much bloodier problem. Arming merchant ships will not deter the pirates. They have nothing to loose if the alternative is death by starvation. A coast guard does not have to be America ships, it could be Somali. But it must have to power to protect the sovereignty of Somali waters. So long as the world continues to use Somali waters as a global latrine, the Somalis will feel justified in their retribution. Why is it so objectionable to ensure that foreigners also use those waters lawfully?

    Incidentally, I never specified that the coast guard be governmental. It could easily be partially sponsored by the insurers who have the most at stake here. But in order to be successful, it must protect against all criminal activity, not just piracy against merchants. Otherwise, it will continue to escalate the cycle of aggression and retribution.

    The libertarian philosophy of non-intervention in foreign affairs is a sound one. But it does not absolve us for the responsibility of our actions already committed. We need to settle up the tab before we can walk out of the restaurant.

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  7. Greg

    Simply arming merchant vessels is a very simplistic solution that does not address the root cause of Somali priracy nor does it require that the US take responsibility for its role in creating the problem. The US has been waging a proxy war in Somalia utilizing their puppet army in Ethiopia. Somalia has been reduced to utter desperation and lawlessness. Piracy is not the only form of lawlessness occurring in the waters off of Somalia. Toxic waste is being illegially dumped there and the waters have been overfished by foreign poachers. The people of Somalia have been reduced to a state of total desperation. Detterance by arming ships will not be effective if the criminals do not see any other option for living. If the calculus is to highjack a ship and maybe take a bullet to the brain or slowly and horribly starve to death (and watch your children and family also slowly and painfully starve) on land, the pirates will continue their criminal enterprise. Going to community college and getting a job in medical billing just isn't an option. The USA needs to take responsibility for the mess it created and work with the nations who depend on the red sea shipping corridor to establish a coast guard to protect the seas off of Somalia from illegal exploitation as well as from piracy. Fishing needs to be restored as a viable livlihood for the coastal Somalis.

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    1. Joshua

      Um Greg, establishing a government coast guard to make up for the govt puppet army is your idea? Ok, how about not doing the coast guard thing AND not doing the puppet army thing. Just because Dr. Paul's advice wasn't followed in the former instance doesn't mean it shouldn't be followed in the latter.

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    2. Lyn

      Replying to Greg: Apparently I am alone hear in understanding your point. I think that when piracy comes to America, and the pirates are Americans, your point well be seen. But as usual, too late. Hungry bellies after all have nothing to lose be they Somalis or Americans. These people (nor are any) cannon fodder to be used by corrupt governments, including ours, yet that is what they are and it would seem from at least one reply, that fact is far to easily dismissable with them to bring comfort.

      I am sitting here today reading this and wondering what's changed since Clinton waged his war there. Better, no. Worse, yes.

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