« Odierno should remember who is CinC. | Main | National Journal Blog, 13 April, 2009 »

12 April 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I am almost always on the same page...not so this time. While piracy does need to be eliminated it is not quite the cut and dried subject that you make it out. Some years back I was working on a film in Somalia and there is a back story that is more than just low season fisherman going for an easy payday...


Frank Newbauer

Why is this treated as something new? At the close of the Roman Republic piracy became a major problem. While the long-term solution to the problem was economic stability, the short-term solution was provided by Pompey and later Julius Ceasar. Ceasar was famously kidnapped by pirates, whom he promised to return and kill. Following his ransom, he did just that. Piracy has always been a crime, and a capital crime at that. The pirates, and their overlords, will continue with business as usual until someone makes them pay a price. The Marines earned the refrain in their hymn, "to the shores of Tripoli", through the suppression of piracy 200 years ago. It is time for the major maritime powers to step up - that means us. Or are we no longer a major maritime power? Alfred Thayer Mahan is rolling in his grave.


Why is it that a ship's captain doesn't carry a sword and colt revolver? And keep a locker of rifles on board? It seems bizarre that one would consider oneself in command of a ship and yet not be able to repel borders. The captain of a 747 freighter carries an automatic pistol, by way of comparison.
In any case, on with the sinking of the pirates and the the torching of their houses. Until then I'll drink to the French.
(For information on how to deal with pirates read: "The Pirate Coast")


Time is running out as well as options. Letting a motor life boat go from 250 miles offshore to less than 20 is scandalous. Now we are negotiating with the Pirate's superiors (elders) who get a piece of each parcel of ransom money. Yes, the French understand this situation and deal with it much better than we.

OOPS ranting too much and doubting of our forces.
According to CNN Captain Richard Phillips is safe and aboard the USS Boxer. Three Pirates KIA and one in custody.

I salute our forces for a job well done... Screw the French

Green Zone Cafe

The situation seems now ripe for action. The pirates have surely run out of khat, at least. I predict the SEALs will come knocking tonight.

Pray for them and Captain Phillips.

Pray for the pirates, as well. Not their success, their souls. And give their families a chance to get out of their mansions before we bomb them.



To end the piracy what Somalia needs is a State. Ethiopian occupiers, American Overlords or Predators bombing Pirate Mansions can’t establish a State. The USA needs to support a Green Revolution codifying the Islamic Courts. If that fails, then the Horn of Africa becomes the 51st State with all the rights, privileges and development accorded American [Neo-Roman] citizens, and decimation of all others.

But, American War Profiteers need the Long War. Even, the Pirates on Wall Street are doing their best to take the skim off of the churn and bankrupting the United States. “Greed continues to be good. Government is still evil”.

The third way is American withdrawal and containment. But there is no excess profit to be made this way.

John Minnerath

It was just announced that the skipper of the Maersk-Alabama has been released by US forces, 3 pirates dead and 1 wounded. It sounds like a force of our military staged a superb strike.
The ship is safe with a detachment of US SEALs protecting it.
I agree with Col. Lang's opinion of the French actions and this one of ours shows it can be done.

I still think merchant vessels in dangerous waters should have arms lockers for protection.
Or the "Flag" nation should provide a detachment of military force aboard the vessels.
These pirates aren't trained professionals and will not go against a ship that will fire upon them.
There are simply too many sea miles in this track of ocean for a naval force to provide total protection against attack.

Mad Dogs

Pat wrote: "The French did the right thing. We must do the same. There will be casualties. That price must be paid to restore order and law at sea. pl"

Done and paid for:

US sea captain freed in swift firefight


You call for strong action against these pirates, yet you supported a candidate who abhors force and is ashamed to be an American.

Apparently logic is not a requirement for intelligence officers.


US ship reaches Kenya minus kidnapped captain

Quinn told reporters the experience was "terrifying and exciting at the same time." Asked what he thought of the pirates who seized the boat, Quinn said: "They're just hungry."

Cold War Zoomie


Fox News just reported that President Obama authorized force twice - once on Friday and once on Saturday.

One can abhor violence while still recognizing that it is necessary at times.

Why do you think President Obama is sending more troops to Afghanistan? To have a picnic? To play Pinochle?


Mark Logan

I would much rather see it done by making the ships harder to take. It's so ridiculously easy for these
men in tiny boats, and it can be made much tougher
with minimal equipment and training.
I suspect there are other places in the world where these precautions will prove worthwhile ones as well.

But in the end, I agree, it has to be stopped. Even
if it must be ugly.


Kudos to the SEALs. But does the use of Snipers not preclude a firefight? I know a narrative is developing, but there is need to get the news straight.

different clue

Are the Somali pirates merely resorting to piracy in the fishing off-season? I have read that illegal European trawling off Somalia has decimated fish-stocks to the point where Somali fishermen find too few fish to make a living. Worse, after the collapse of Somali coast-protective governmental authority, European countries began dumping toxic and radiological waste off the Somali coast; using Italian mafia groups as the feed-through handlers. Here is the link to an article presenting those claims.
The recent onset of Somali piracy makes me think
these claims could be the reasons driving coastal Somalis to piracy. If that is correct, then forcing European sources of the toxic dumping to find and recover all their waste, and effectively banning of foreign fishing fleets from Somali waters; should alleviate the pressures forcing Somali fishermen into piracy.

In the meantime, of course, Somali piracy will have to be suppressed to prevent it from becoming a long-standing tradition like piracy in the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, etc.


Couple things not mentioned in the discourse so far;

Total amount paid out in ransoms to Somali pirates in 2008 was 18-30 million us dollars (estimate from the Chatham House briefing paper "Piracy in Somalia")

Profits from global sea shipping is measured in the billions. For instance, in 2008, the Neptune Oriental Lines out of Shanghai posted profits of 9 billion dollars. So what we are actually looking at is a cost of doing business measured in tenths of a percent of the take of a global industry. Anybody else see/smell a red herring?

So why go after the Somalis? Misplaced machismo? Bruised national ego? Mal directed sense of history? Great IO campaign by the shipping companies/industry?

I would hazard to guess that we could sooner clog all the ports in somalia with hijacked ships before we put a serious dent in global shipping.

If we want to worry about maritime safety, worry about the Dardenelles. If there is any achilles heel anywhere in the shipping industry, thats where it would be. Simply look at teh geography, the petro lines coming in and you'll see how a Somalia pales in comparison.

Graywolf, go grab another glass of kool-aid sit down.

Mark Logan, that idea has been thrown around, but basic military tactics dictate that an obstacle put up must be overwatched to be effectived. Therein lies the cost of "toughening" any freighter. What are the ships owners and masters willing to pay to do this? They already hire seaman willing to work for the lowest pay if that tells you anything.

Bottom line is this, the US Navy cannot fix this problem, no matter how good the shoot'em up fix sounds. I recall the last time the phrase "bring 'em on!" was uttered, it ended badly. This only ends well when we give the Somalis a reason to stop pirating, through either an economic/state building solution or we simply don't sail by the HOA anymore.

My 2 cents


Over 200 years agon, the USofA paid tribute to sundry pashas along the North African coast. After several years of increasing extortion, the Barbary crews had their accounts settled when the USMC & USN took the battle to the rulers home port. Only after the message was delivered by Decatur's
landing party, including one Reuben James, was the issue put to rest. Surely we know the home ports of this current crop of brigands. Rather than a fire ship, why not Hellfire missiles? We're not talking nation building here.


Wow, just wow, at the Navy Seals. Amazing.

Also kudos to Obama, who made the right call - twice.


I think, Colonel, you have not gotten the entire story:


There have been plenty of scattered reports, now -- for several months -- about how the Western armada arrayed off of Somalia is doing two things: protecting illegal dumping of toxic waste by Western corporations (no doubt almost exclusively European) in Somali waters, and protecting illegal corporate fisheries as they drive away small-scale Somali fishermen from their traditional, legally-protected fishing grounds.

And let's face it: where they cannot be enforced, Western governments are no better than any other at acknowledging international commitments. So there is nothing to be surprised at, in these accusations.

The local Somali fishermen are complaining that their communities are "starving"; while i personally have no idea about the severity of the problems they are experiencing, in a country like Somalia it's not hard to imagine that seafood may be the only sustenance that the coastal communities can acquire.

That these acts of piracy are a recent development is also excellent reason to presume that they are a reaction to recent provocations.

I agree that piracy is not to be condoned; but i think, in light of the recent media treatments which we all, here, have acknowledged as deplorably, unforgivably one-sided and skewed, that it would be wrong for us to simply nod our heads in agreement that in this particular case, our media and governments are obviously doing a stand-up job of giving the Somalis their fair shake, and so now bringing the hammer down is the best response.

Why haven't we heard of any of the corporate trawlers, or corporate dumpers, getting confiscated and taken over? It's a good question, since their actions are just as illegal -- and far more violent, insofar as they threaten the existence of entire communities, rather than isolated crews and bottom-line profits -- as those of the pirates.

So why such inaction on the part of the Western navies?

In fact, beyond the article i just linked to above, i have yet to hear any Western media outlet, anywhere, give the Somalis a chance to explain their side of things.

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "It takes two to tango." I'd like to ask: considering that the Pentagon has already acknowledged the threats posed by widespread starvation and ecological degradation due to the effects of global warming (and the unspoken elephant in the room, over-population), shouldn't the Somali demands be given due consideration?

I hardly think that would be "over-intellectualization". I think, in past centuries, it was instead called "Justice".



Do you have evidence or facts to support your statement?

For example I see in Obama's Philadelphia address about race and his inaugural address expressions of pride in the country's ability to grow and overcome adversity. Where is the evidence of shame you see?


Purportedly, the reason these ships are not armed is the shipping companies would rather pay the ransom than the insurance premiums for an armed ship.

The SEALs rock.


I understand the effusion. However, what people need to understand is that the European countries have been dumping their nuclear waste in Somali waters for years and destroying their means of livelihood. Literally, killing any means of feeding their families; the fish are dead. Google Johann Hari. He documented it for a UK paper.

This piracy was a payback action for the UN failing to act, and for not taking the Somalis seriously when they asked for help. It was basically 'Screw you brown-skinned people'.

Nuclear waste.

Cold War Zoomie

Strange, this seemed like a pretty cut and dry issue: pirates board ships with weapons, kidnap crew members, and then demand millions of dollars in ransoms.

Yet some people are almost defending them?

If I were hungry, I would never think to myself that the answer is to kidnap people at gunpoint and demand millions in ransoms!

Wow, I'm stumped.


Obama has a very deft touch here. He authorized the right amount of force at the right time.

For the naysayers, remember how Bush's first international challenge went down? Us having a spy plane forced to land in China while he made loud noises from the podium that did nothing in the end but have our technology stolen by the Chinese.

With Obama, it really is his plan B you have watch for.


It's intriguing to see not one, but two links to Johann Hari's article about this piracy problem. I found Hari's analysis to be nothing short of awful, full of rhetorical devices (including a closing reference to Alexander the Great!), but completely devoid of any verifiable evidence that these pirates are indeed anything but pirates.

What was especially interesting is that Hari's essay from April 11th seemed to be a warning to others against the sort of silly rhetorical misdirection tricks he used in his piracy essay.

Psychological projection, perhaps?

To steal a phrase from Freud, perhaps sometimes a pirate is just a pirate.


the next step for Obama is to line up some Wall Street financial geniuses who got us in the Credit Default Swap mess & then took huge bonuses and turn the SEALS on them!

How much have the pyrates stolen? under 50 million.

How much have the financials stolen? billions upon billions.

Who are the true heirs of Edward "Blackbeard" Teach?

Some perspective.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad