The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blow Them Out Of The Seas! (& No Somali Nation-Building)

by Ilana Mercer

Pirates! That in itself is a romantic euphemism. These are terrorists on the high seas. They’ve been operating a criminal enterprise that targets innocents with impunity–and with great success. Yet the West does nothing. China, a country that seems to act in its national interests more so than do we, is, by The Washington Times’ account, “deploying vessels to secure their shipping since they can no longer rely on other powers to keep trade flowing unmolested.”

To recap: North Korea has committed no real aggression against the US with its measly missile. The Iranians shoot their mouths off. Both countries know that if they deign to aggress against the US, why, we’ll obliterate them. Yet, on-and-on the debate goes as to whether America should kill the innocent people of these lands. Conversely, when confronted with evil in action—plunderers thwarting the lifeblood that is trade—nothing much is done.

Or murmurs of negotiations ensue.

“Pirates” operate near “ the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea and around the Strait of Malacca near Singapore,” and threaten peaceful commerce with raids on “cargo vessels, tankers, fishing vessels, cruise liners, yachts and the occasional tugboat.”

The first seizure of a U.S. flagged vessel by pirates in recent memory was thwarted yesterday as the crew retook the vessel. The taking and retaking of the Maersk Alabama has grabbed headlines, but it was one of six ships attacked in that area since last weekend. The only reason this ship was saved is that the American crew fought back.

This is an excellent opportunity for private companies to step in to fill the protection gap. But, knowing the “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” “any vessels but clearly identified naval or other national forces,” are prohibited from “seizing pirate vessels.” As are “the rules of self-defense at sea somewhat murky.”

If ever there was a time to thumb the proverbial nose at the nosy UN, this is it. I say, “as President Washington said in 1786, lamenting payments being made to the Barbary Pirates, … ‘crush them into nonexistence.’”

Or, blow them out of the seas!

Update I: From the Wall Street Journal: “In the waning days of the Bush administration, the National Security Council issued a detailed yet little-noticed plan for combating piracy off the coast of Somalia.”

Commensurate with Bush’s emphasis on using force, mostly, when it was inappropriate to use it, the previous administration “was nearly silent … on what to do if a ship is taken by pirates and crew members are held captive. And what little guidance it provided was vague. U.S. naval forces were given authority to ‘terminate the act of piracy and any included hostage situation.’ Just how they were to do that was left unsaid.”

I hope he surprises me, but I doubt Barry will deviate from the perplexing policy of aggression against non-aggressors, and non-aggression against aggressors.

Update II (April 10): OBAMA AWOL The silence of this White House, so far, is deafening; the inaction of the best navy seals in the world perplexing. The brave captain of the Maersk Alabama attempted to escape. Stealthy seals were nowhere in sight to help him get away and annihilate his pursuers. He is recaptured.

Knowing that the US media would be covering for Obama, I went straight for the international coverage. The Times Online plasters an appropriate headline on its website: “US Navy misses chance to rescue American captain held hostage by pirates“:

Captain Richard Phillips fled through a back door in the covered lifeboat about midnight on Thursday local time and began swimming away, US officials said.

At least one pirate jumped in after him and brought him back aboard the boat, which is drifting without fuel, before the nearby US destroyer, USS Bainbridge, could intervene. The incident was captured on video by a US drone overhead. “He didn’t get very far,” one official said. …

The Bainbridge, backed by drones and surveillance aircraft, was standing guard a few hundred yards from the lifeboat, which had run out of fuel. The frigate USS Halyburton and the assault ship USS Boxer, armed with about two dozen helicopters and attack planes, sailed to the scene yesterday.

“[a] former US ambassador in Ethiopia and an expert on the Horn of Africa, advocated a tougher policy against pirates, including sinking their ‘mother ships.’”

This is a disgrace! Worse: it’s a disregard for American life.

While Obamby vacillates, President Sarkozy gave French commandos the order to storm a yacht captured by “pirates,” off the coast of Somalia. There is one casualty, but two families are freed. This operation is “the seventh in a year by French forces,” all ordered by the French president.

Hardly a softy is Sarkozy.

According to SPIEGEL ONLINE, “Over the last few days the spike in new pirate attacks has been dramatic. Ten ships, including the MV Hansa Stavager, a German freighter, have been taken. A total of 20 ships remain in the hands of pirates.”

Update III (April 11): SOMALI SHAMANS AND FOOLISH FBI TO THE RESCUE. The US navy’s lackluster efforts to free Capt. Richard Phillips ran aground today… again. Yesterday, a US drone captured, on video, Capt. Phillips making an attempted escape. Had the “vigilant” marines been glued to their monitors, they might have blown the pirates’ dingy out of the sea as soon as the Capt. jumped the craft.

Today, U.S. sailors tried to reach the lifeboat, but the “pirates” did what “pirates” are wont to do: fired on them. The US Navy responded by doing what the Navy, apparently, does when aggressed against: retreat: “The gunfire forced the sailors, who did not return fire, back to the guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge,” reports CNN.

As if this faux pa were not enough, we learn that the this act of terror on the high seas will be bureaucratized:

“The U.S. Navy — which is in charge of the situation” [-- and cannot handle it] has “requested help from the FBI to resolve the standoff.”

The FBI is launching a criminal investigation into the hijacking and hostage-taking, two law enforcement officials told CNN. The probe will be led by the FBI’s New York field office, which has responsibility for looking into cases involving U.S. citizens in the African region. Agents from the office were scheduled to leave for Africa sometime this weekend, the officials said.

Yes, I can think of nothing more appropriate in resolving a stand-off with criminals than to launch an “investigation.” Perhaps the FBI can call in their Behavioral “Sciences” pseudo-scientists, who can then draw up a profile of an African pirate. (Daddy had too many wives and didn’t spend quality time with pygmy pirate.)

Wait a sec, I know of an even better course of action for our bureaucrats. The Christian Science Monitor tells that “relatives of the four Somali hijackers, along with a group of Somali elders, are traveling to the coastal area nearby determined to ’solve the problem peacefully … without any guns or ransom.’”

Now, if you believe that these are relatives of the hijackers rather than some wily old men from the tribe, who want to get their faces on CNN, and con stupid westerners, then, you must have believed, together with Fox and Friends, that WMD were probably moved to Syria, and al-Qaeda and the Ba’athists were an item.

I hope the savvy Somalis show the foolish FBI how to throw some bones and conjure the ancestral spirits. That ought to help free Capt. Phillips.

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