If you watch the headlines, you are aware that the seas around Somalia are swarming with pirates. It is really getting dangerous for the commercial shipping that passes the horn of Africa. In the latest exploit, a group of the pirates took over a large oil tanker some 400 miles away from the shore of Somalia and said if you want it back, pay up.
The other nations of our planet are not responding all that well to the challenge posed by the Somali pirates. There is a great deal of talk about how impossible it is to watch all the coastal areas and keep thousands of ships safe at the same time. A warship from India got lucky a day ago and spotted a small ship that seemed to match the description of a pirate "mother ship". You see, the small speedboats that the pirates like to use can't safely travel hundreds of miles of open ocean, so they depend on "mother ships" when they go out that far. The Indians hailed the little ship, which replied with gunfire, so the Indians blasted and sank them. Great. But Somalia is in chaos, there is no government whatsoever, and there are lots of guys willing to risk their lives on a big payoff. We need to demonstrate that the payoff is not going to happen, and that getting blown out of the water is certain.
To complicate things, there is now a movement in Somalia of Islamic fundamentalists who want to take over the country and do the Taliban thing- stonings, beatings, women wrapped head to toe, you name it. Even though that would impose some order on a chaotic and lawless nation, and would probably stop most of the pirates, we don't want that to happen. An islamic regime would be likely to harbor terrorists, as long as they are islamic terrorists. You know what that means, a new regime to replace Afghanistan's Taliban to play the role of sugar daddy to a new set of Al Qaeda goons.
I remember the Black Hawk Down mess of 1992, when the Bush I adminstration started an involvement in Somalia in order to feed famine victims, but when Clinton took over it led pretty quickly to gun battles with a regional warlord, Mohammed Aideed. Somalia has nothing we want, but the anarchy there repeatedly threatens our interests. I am reminded that the USA's efforts to serve as world cop started around 200 years ago with the fights against another group of islamic pirates, those based in Tripoli in North Africa. The problem is partly that our military is stretched very thin in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we can't really handle another country. How about if we work more closely with the nations of Europe, the Middle East, and even India, to solve this problem? We can't do everything alone, so why don't we try to form a coalition. Nobody wants world trade to suffer if the piracy were to get so bad that ship traffic would abandon the Suez Canal and thereby have to start going all the way around South Africa. I realize that there are a zillion challenges out there that seem more important than Somalia right now, but piracy is a problem that does not go away until you discourage it, STRONGLY. Isn't it an opportunity for the free nations of the world to act together in the interest of safety for all?
You may get upset if you read this one, but you need to read it:
the Somali pirates have collected 30 million bucks in ransoms of stolen ships and crews this year alone. And in the coastal communities where they pass around the money, they are as popular as rock stars.