Somali pirates versus European toxic-waste dumpers

Not all the Somali "pirates" are gangsters: some are locals who've watched their loved ones sicken and die after European toxic waste was dropped on their shores and decided to do something about it.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury - you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation - and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia - and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".

No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters - especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas."

Johann Hari: You are being lied to about pirates (via Isen)

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  1. First, illegal dumping hardly justifies piracy in any case, because the victims of piracy are NOT the people doing the dumping.

    And two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Second, how would I know whether I’m being ‘lied to’ about pirates? Seriously. Why would you trust an official from the thoroughly-corrupt nation of Somalia at his word about anything?

    And even if he’s being honest, who says his sources aren’t just some village rumors?

    The ‘nuclear waste’ thing is a load of horse manure beyond any doubt. Seriously. The handling of nuclear waste is inspected at _every step_, in the European case by no less than THREE agencies, the IAEA (UN), EURATOM (EU) and the relevant national agency.

    They keep tabs on nuclear fuel from its production to disposal, and inspect the disposal sites as well. You really think a few tons would go missing without them noticing? (Bear in mind that that stuff could be reprocessed into weapons-grade stuff)

  2. So amazingly the pirates are organised enough to have captured dozens of other ships but don’t even have a photograph of one of the waste dumpers?

  3. jumping ahead to the “don’t be silly they can’t dump nuke waste”… you are a very naive person. They have since the forties, everyone cheats, everyone lies, everyone bribes. Even just the incompetence of government regulation and industry would fill books, never mind deliberate conspiracy.

    I’ll be bringing some links on this.

  4. Of course crimes committed against the people of Somalia (old and new) don’t justify the individual pirate’s individual crimes. They are making their choices. But it is the slimiest kind of developed world self justifying lying to ignore the cause of the Somali circumstances that lead men to piracy.
    Their country is a mess. It isn’t all their fault.

  5. The nuclear dumping appears to be real (or to have been real).
    http://tinyurl.com/3fc3c8

    The exploitation of costal waters by foreign fishing fleets is real.

    Stopping these things might help stop piracy. It would have helped more if it happened before the pirates got so rich.

    But none of that makes the pirates good guys. It just makes them one of many forces of greed and violence taking advantage of the lack of a Somali government at the expense of the Somali people.

  6. @Takuan; How is it not all their fault? My country could dissolve into anarchy too, but it doesn’t because the people don’t let it. We elect and empower leaders to create and enforce just laws and maintain order. A culture that lets warlords (gangs) kill and squabble endlessly over the ruins needs to take a hard look at itself before blaming the developed world for why piracy is rampant.
    There is simply no honest justification for the violent abduction, murder and extortion of innocents. If the pirates used their rockets and guns to assert real law and order, I suspect the developed world would become far more sympathetic, and would offer incredible aid if the Somalians just made the effort. We should all hope the pirates don’t annoy the Americans too much – history teaches us that lawless thuggery combined with boisterous ranting always seems to attract a huge American military overreaction. Also; piracy was the reason they first built their first-rate navy. Stop poking the beehive, you idiots.

  7. @8, read #9 yet? Now consider: flying saucers land in Washington. The aliens offer (to the leaders of your country) eternal youth and limitless power –
    in exchange for a steady supply of humans to be rendered down for pet food and aphrodisiacs. Think you’d have time to make it the border of “your” country?

    The average Somali is screwed by the warlords and by the foreign powers that use the warlords. You seriously blame them? Imagine living under Blackwater Xe.

  8. Wait, who regulates fishing in international waters? And do these fish carry Somali passports so we can identify which ones belong to them?

    And Takuan… freerepublic? Really? Because I’m sure the first thing that pops into people’s minds when they visit that cesspool is “trustworthy.”

  9. sure, slag one source, now what about all the others?

    As for fishing in international waters, every sea going nation is actively defending waters and fisheries they see as traditionally their own – to the limit they have working navies to enforce it – and there ARE high seas agreements and treaties on things like drift nets (ocean strip mining) and endangered species. Everyone cheats,but that is what it is : cheating. Go take a non-American flagged seiner close to Alaska and see if you don’t get challenged well outside territorial waters.

  10. Any real coast guard will protect their own borders. Those ships were not captured in Somali waters. They’re just innocent passerbys. The pirates are roaming further and further from shore in search of prey. They’re not protecting anything, just searching for victims.

  11. The main difference between “taking someone hostage” until they “pay ransom” and “arresting someone” until they “post bail” or “pay a fine” is whether the State Department recognizes your “sovereignty.”

  12. So let me get this straight: First we dump toxic and radioactive waste in the waters, and then we eat fish from those polluted waters…

    Time to break out the old geiger counter before putting those fishsticks in my mouth.

  13. So, all Somalis are guilty for allowing a culture of violence where warlords can roam free? Is all of North Korea guilty for not toppling Their rulers, who keep power with an iron fist? Were all Iraqis guilty for not toppling Saddam (last I heard, they tried, quite a few times)?

    How about the rest of us, aren’t we actually guilty for not caring enough to push our leaders to step in and start some kind of peace process? You’re telling me no western arms manufacturers are profiting from ongoing civil strife in a place like that?

  14. People just want to point their fingers and yell “Bad guys!”, fire their guns in the air, and yodel about Team America because it’s easier than actually trying to fix the problem.

    It’s the worse type of laziness.

    I’m glad the Navy Seals did what they did, but that isn’t the solution to the larger problem.

    Thinking any bigger than that though gives the tea-baggers a migraine.

  15. HERE HERE Takuan!! Well researched.

    Two wrongs dont make a right but for you morally black and white folk, you should take a closer look at the grey. It isnt perfect by any strech but it is better than nothing.

  16. “Lawless thuggery combined with boisterous ranting always seems to *comprise* American military overreaction”

    – there, all fixed

    Now, isn’t Somalia, in having no federal government whatsoever, some kind of anarchistic/libertarian paradise? The privateering these men engage in as their business model is about the same as the banks. Why so picky about style of extortion anyway?

    And on that topic, what happened to ZUZU? He posted almost daily for years, now he’s been absent a month. Hope nothing terrible happened to him.

  17. Takuan – Freerepublic? Al jazeera? Sheesh.

    Have you possibly considered the possibility that the waste got there with the approval of the local warlords? The same warlords that are now running the pirate fleets? If not how else did it get there, did someone sneak in and dump it when they were all asleep?

    Which doesn’t make the activities of whoever put it there right either of course….

    The fact is that the pirates are not victims now any more than any of the other bandit scum that have preyed upon those that can’t fight back over the years.

  18. “Wait, who regulates fishing in international waters? And do these fish carry Somali passports so we can identify which ones belong to them?”
    Google “fishing in international waters” you will find some answers
    And ,no, fish don’t carry passports.Your just being a silly boy.

  19. –People just want to point their fingers and yell “Bad guys!”, fire their guns in the air, and yodel about Team America because it’s easier than actually trying to fix the problem.–

    How do we fix the problem? Somalia is a failed state, and any attempt to fix it is going to involve a lot of gunfire being exchanged between the local warlords and anybody trying to do the fixing.

    I mean, this has been done before, in 1993. It did not end well.

    -Darren MacLennan

  20. this article was an attempt to give a glimpse into understanding the pirate’s i feel – it wasn’t a justification.

    people are dieing of starvation in fishing villages because other nations are coming in with giant boats and clearing out their seas. they are desperate people in a desperate nation.

    it is not the people’s fault. look at the US we elected bush for president not once but TWICE!!!

    nazi germany – not every person born in germany at that time was “evil” – they are in situations that they don’t know how to get out of.

    this does NOT make it right
    but we have to understand this to figure out what to do about it.

    if we merely fight back with force they will turn to actual terrorists with different agendas – start working for others running arms or aiding in bigger terrorist organizations.

    right now the terrorists stay away from the pirates and the pirates stay away from the terrorists. they want nothing to do with each other.

    something needs to be done but you can’t just make things black and white.

    if you merely criminalize them and punish them they will get even more desperate and it will be even harder for them to gain some sort of normal government and a way of life in the seas.

  21. The author’s use of quotation marks around the word “pirates” kills the his credibility. The fact that they are pirates isn’t up for debate. Here’s a little test for whether someone is a pirate: Do you illegally board ships to steal and take hostages? Congratulations, you’re a pirate.

  22. Some research I did about somali pirates:

    http://www.warhw.com/2009/04/13/somali-pirates-attack-on-us-flagged-ship/

    Someone wants to start a campaign to get the UN or some other international body to investigage toxic dumping or illegal fishing off the coast of Somalia, I’m all for it.

    But these yahoos are a bunch of thugs with guns who are in it for the money. 150 million dollars in ransoms in a year.

    They’re not doing it for the “righteousness” of it. They’re not doing it to “get back” at the bad ol’ foreigners who are dumping and fishing in their waters.

    They’re doing it for the money.

    It’s not like these guys are waging guerilla war against foreign ships who are dumping and fishing. It’s not like these guys are attacking ships that are dumping and illegally fishing.

    These guys are nothing more than warlords who found a way to turn their armies and guns into something profitable. If this was south america, they’d be running drugs for the money, and killing tens of thousands of people.

    When the US went through prohibition, the mob found a way to make a lot of money running illegal booze. That doesn’t make the mob a bunch of freedom fighters or something. Yeah, the law was stupid, but they mob is still the mob.

    Even if there is illegal dumping and fishing off teh coast of somalia, these guys are nothing but a bunch of thugs with guns.

  23. So the long and the short of it is that to solve the pirate problem, somebody needs to land a 100K troops in Northern Somalia, where you can do that without anybody noticing your doing it until it’s too late, install a central government that works and can defend it’s waters like a normal government, and hunt down pirates on the water at the same time.

    So who has the troops and the will available to do that that can be trusted to do it right?

  24. Takuan: The aliens offer eternal youth and limitless power – in exchange for a steady supply of humans to be rendered down for pet food

    The average Somali is screwed by the warlords

    Oh give me a break.

    The pirates that recently kidnapped the american were untrained kids with heavy weapons. They signed on to piracy for the money they would make. They’re no different than some kid in south america who becomes a foot soldier for some drug lord because he can make a thousand times more money than he would make via legal means.

    There are systemic problems that are creating the circumstances, sure. But that doesn’t absolve the individuals of their individual responsibility for their individual choices. And I’ve never heard any stories that said these Somali’s were being forced to become pirates. Just like the mob enforcers during prohibition chose their profession based on the money it would make them.

  25. So who has the troops and the will available to do that that

    The US tried it. Didn’t pan out so well.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohamed_Farrah_Aidid#Opposition_to_UN_intervention

    The story “Black Hawk Down” was the culmination of the US attempting to go after warlords in Somalia and establish some sort of “state”. After a number of US troops were killed, America decided it wasn’t worth it and pulled out.

    The lesson, I think, is that you cannot force a lawless land to form a state. It hasn’t worked in Afghanistan. It hasn’t worked in Somalia. I don’t think it can work, at least not from the outside.

  26. The toxic waste and the lost fisheries are details of atrocity. The larger framework of this is global capitalism. I have no problem with US marines (or whoever it was) sniping the Somali Pirates/Guerillas/Gangsters—that is to be expected.

    But to those of you who are unwilling to get beyond the surface details of piracy. You fail to ask if there is a difference between the greed of Pirates who come from a country where a good wage is a dollar a day and the greed of globalized trade. Anyone who paints these Pirates as greedy is missing something pretty serious. I would call their action desperation, writ large (certainly the live with mundane forms of greed, but I’m talking about a bigger picture. I’m sure the majority of the pirates would prefer to live out a peaceful life on Wall Street if they could (as socially sanctioned pirates).

    history matters. Pretending that this is a problem of greedy pirates is lunacy or deliberate obfuscation. Current global economics is indefensibly immoral and cruel.

  27. Some more background on pirates, a la Schoolhouse Rock via Chomsky via St. Augustine:



    The video is more than a few years old, but the point remains. The difference is one of degree.

  28. Is it not a contradiction to complain that Europeans are dumping toxic and radioactive waste and at the same time fishing the same water and eating all the fish?

    Besides, the ships they are attacking aren’t fishing boats.

  29. So if we agree that the situation in Somalia is at least partially the fault of the western world, what do we as citizens do about it? Encourage our governments to leave Somalia alone or encourage them to help Somalia some how?

    How do we clean up the waters outside Somalia when we can’t seem to keep our own clean?

    And… why the hell did those European companies dump waste off the coast of Somalia when there are several really, really big oceans elsewhere?

  30. It’s one of those problems where addressing only the aspect that offends one’s sense of morality and justice (why won’t those lazy greedy thugs get jobs or till the soil?) you’ll never get anywhere. Like spraying Afghan opium fields or raiding Taliban fortresses.

    Right now, the pirates hold the advantage because of speed and a huge area to patrol. Raiding their motherships might work if you ignore the legal niceties of boarding any ship that happens to be in the area. Smart pirates could flag their ships with various national registries for example. Or spend their booty on super-cavitating torpedoes. In short, it’ll just get uglier.

    If either nuking the place or arming a local proxy and letting him sort it out (Russia, Chechnya, Kadyrov) is off the table, then nation-building is the only way out.

  31. Why do we automatically assume the west is responsible for the dumping? It has never made sense that a dirty western company would go there to dump–the deep ocean is closer and they’re less likely to be caught.

    It makes much more sense that it’s the acts of locals–they contracted for hazardous waste disposal and then simply dumped the material.

  32. I realize that this is a discussion on the Somali pirates because they’re the latest news fad, but this is not something confined to Somalia.
    In Somalia it seems that a lot of them did start out as pissed off fishermen but that was a while ago. Now it’s pure profit motive much like the pirates elsewhere (Indonesia comes to mind).
    Stopping fishing or dumping waste or whatever is not going to fix the problem. A working government would help but without active discouragement by those not wanting to be pirated this will just continue.

  33. Greglondon @28

    The pirates that recently kidnapped the american were untrained kids with heavy weapons. They signed on to piracy for the money they would make. They’re no different than some kid in south america who becomes a foot soldier for some drug lord because he can make a thousand times more money than he would make via legal means.

    You’re exactly right. You just need to also take into account that the dividing line between that kid’s family thriving, versus his parents starving, his brother dying of an easily treatable disease, his sisters being forced into prostitution, his uncle getting cancer because the only legal job he could get exposes him to vast quantities of asbestos without any consideration of worker safety, and his orphaned cousins sleeping in doorways and eating roadkill, is somewhere around five hundred times the legal wage.

    Sure, the kid then spends some of his disposable income on fancy sneakers, dope and hair gel. But don’t let that superficial similarity lead you to dismiss him as exactly identical to a thug in a prosperous Western European city who can always get at least a living wage, and whose relatives will be at least tenably supported by a functional social welfare system.

    Yes, he turns to thuggery, no question. But there’s a reason why more people do so in failed societies than in successful ones. It’s legitimate to examine the role of the prosperous successful states in contributing to the failure of more vulnerable ones when different actions on their part could have bolstered progress there. It’s legitimate to actually listen to the stories of those thugs – people are not, by and large, innately thuggish, so the reasons they turn to thuggery are revealing, and also should prevent us from dismissing them as humans who have normal cares and family obligations.

  34. Bolivar13 @37

    True that – but recognizing and addressing the cause of this outbreak of piracy could help stop the next one somewhere else.

  35. @20, i’m surprised it took 20 comments for anyone to say this, its the first thing i thought while reading.

    so first they dump radioactive waste, then they steal the fish out of the same waters?

    sounds like everyone gets the bad end of that stick!

  36. Let’s imagine we’re a corrupt European looking to dump some nuclear waste. Do we dump it in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea or continue an extra couple of thousand miles (and through the Suez canal) so that we can dump it off the coast of Somalia?

    Even criminals try to keep their costs down. I can see no reason why anyone would travel all the way to Somalia to dump something when there are plenty of other (illegal) dumping spots closer to their origination.

  37. So the same people who allowed tons of radioactive waste to be dumped in those waters are now eating “$300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster” fished annually from those same waters?

    Sometimes the universe makes sense.

  38. But to those of you who are unwilling to get beyond the surface details of piracy.

    Woah there, nelly.

    Alice did bad thing (illegal dumping/fishing) to Somalia’s waters. Bob who lives in somalia did bad thing (piracy) to Charlie. Charlie has nothing to do with Alice.

    I want you to read through the main post again and the comments that followed. But this time, read it for the attitude that is arguing in essence that Bob is justified in doing bad things to Charlie because Alice did bad things to Bob.

    I say screw that.

    Somali pirates aren’t goign after the illegal dumpers and fishers. They’re going after anyone who happens to be in the area they can make money off of.

    Turning this into some perverted version of Robin Hood is bullshit.

    This isn’t an issue of me not seeing the surface detail. THis is an issue of me pointing out when someone is using some wrong done to them to justify doing a different wrong to someone completely unrelated.

  39. dragonfrog: It’s legitimate to examine the role of the prosperous successful states in contributing to the failure of more vulnerable onespeople are not, by and large, innately thuggish

    So, the prosperous states are naturally thuggish, but the individuals in the vulnerable states aren’t?

    You’ve got two moral measuring sticks here. One for “prosperous” and one for “vulnerable”. If a kid in prosperous state turns to kidnapping and piracy to make 150 million a year, his responsibility for his actiosn is no different than if he had grown up in the failed state of Somalia.

    in one post you downplay the individual’s thuggishness because he is poor while simultaneously saying that prosperous states are naturally thuggish.

    Meanwhile the title of this post is “Somali pirates versus European toxic-waste dumpers”

    Someone please show me where somali pirates directly attacked european toxic waste dumpers. Of the statistics I’ve seen, people who are targets of somali pirates, the number of targets who also happened to be toxic waste dumpers or illegal fishermen is… zero.

    “Not all the Somali “pirates” are gangsters”

    They are if they’re just in it for the money.

    “some are locals who’ve watched their loved ones sicken and die after European toxic waste was dropped on their shores and decided to do something about it.”

    Non causa pro causa. They are NOT doing anything about illegal dumping if they’re simply attacking targets of opportunity for ransom money.

    “No, this doesn’t make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas.”

    In short, they’re not pirates because… the pirates say so?

  40. The Somali pirates are – reportedly – making large amounts of money from ransom payments.

    It’s a safe bet that that money isn’t staying in the hands of people like the three teenagers killed by snipers a few days ago. I’d guess that there are ‘organizers’ who keep their triggermen supplied with boats, fuel and weapons, and that they’re the ones who ultimately bank most of the profits. I’ll also bet that they have their hands in plenty of other pies – migrant smuggling, labor trafficking, and domestic racketeering, just for starters.

    The optimist in me hopes that it’s these guys who might get called to account and that we might even get the right people (for once). The cynic in me suspects that what we’ll actually get is a few months of hundred-million-dollar warships chasing barefoot teenagers in motorboats round the Indian Ocean, culminating in the killing or capture of a few dozen spr-crrrs and a declaration of victory.

  41. and again:
    “Of course crimes committed against the people of Somalia (old and new) don’t justify the individual pirate’s individual crimes. They are making their choices. But it is the slimiest kind of developed world self justifying lying to ignore the cause of the Somali circumstances that lead men to piracy.
    Their country is a mess. It isn’t all their fault.”

  42. The article smacks of the same convoluted, teleological reasoning that the Iraq War justifies terrorism worldwide and in perpetuity. And besides, if you actually believe that pirates are eco-crusaders in disguise, why would they insist on cash ransoms for the release of food-aid transport ships? Why haven’t these altruistic, magnanimous pirates contributed their ransom toward pollution abatement, or restoring fish stocks?

    It is difficult to treat Somalis as though they are a unified actor, state or non-state: Somalia is further polarized by the differences in local administration between previously British-administered Somaliland, and the nearly lawless ex-Italian colonies constituting Somalia’s southern flank, from which Ash-Shabaab and their Al-Qaeda comrades are pushing out in raids on Kenya and beheading folks. Many pirates operate off the coast of Yemen as well, but that dimension of the problem is virtually never scrutinized in the media. At least two failed states – Somalia and Yemen – are involved, and the fact of their governments’ active collaboration with Al-Qaeda (in the case of the Sana’a gov’t, ceding control of Yemeni towns in exchange for ‘bringing the heads’ of opposition leaders) belies the starry-eyed, ‘eco-crusader’ moniker.

  43. @42. The simplistic idea that this is about Alice, Charlie, and Bob is precisely the problem. To respond with another simplistic notion: The Somali pirates (and other pirates) are a symptom, not the disease itself.

    Demanding that we address the larger issues at play does not deny the problem of the piracy, it tries to go beyond it. We deal with Piracy with snipers. Great. But we need to beyond that in addition to policing it. To simply police the piracy is to chase bad money with more bad money: “just need more police and guns to protect our shipping fleet.” Sounds a lot like the old English Imperial commanders.

    Furthermore, global trade is based on a lot of dark political actions and manipulations. To suggest the Bob the innocent shipper is outside of this is again to miss the larger political context.

    Piracy is a symptom of a global economic system that is incapable of addressing its fundamental and immoral inequalities.

  44. I am not a nuclear specialist so I am curious about the validity of people on land becoming sick from nuclear waste being dumped 300 nautical miles away in deep sea water. Shouldn’t the sea water quickly dissipate the radiation down to levels that wouldn’t hurt anyone? Sea water itself is naturally radioactive, all the articles I have read says that radioactive waste dumped in that much sea water would barely increase the radioactivity of the sea water enough to measure the difference between the natural levels and the after waste levels. And if it is the case that the barrels are being dumped and floating to shore where it releases the toxic waste, wouldn’t there we available proof of the barrels existence?

  45. It’s safe to assume that the people who are dumping radioactive and heavy metal waste on Somalian shores are not the same ones fishing in those waters.

    I’ll second Greg London. Don’t get sentimental about pirates. They’re oceangoing thugs. Somalian pirates may be slower to kill everyone aboard a captured ship than pirates in the Malacca Strait, but that’s only because they haven’t been at it as long, and are still learning the fine points.

    No matter who commits them, all crimes in and around Somalia are made easier by the absence of a cohesive state. Other than that, I don’t see any special connection between outsiders exploiting Somalia, and the existence of piracy along the Somalian coast.

  46. “The arguments here blaming the pirates for everything smacks of the same convoluted, teleological reasoning that the First World has used to justify terrorism by advanced warfare and exploitation of Third World resources worldwide and in perpetuity.” there, fixed that for you Ikh.

    As for those trying to drag some phoney “eco-warrior” canard into this: don’t. A pirate is a pirate. The Somalis in the little boats are pirates. The large corporations looting Africa are also pirates, as are your governments that aid and abet them. Which makes you morally a pirate too if you don’t oppose them.

    Everyone reading this is almost certainly living somewhere where you vote for your leaders. YOU are responsible for what they do. When’s the last time they had an real election in Somalia?

  47. @42. The simplistic idea that this is about Alice, Charlie, and Bob is precisely the problem. To respond with another simplistic notion: The Somali pirates (and other pirates) are a symptom, not the disease itself.

    Demanding that we address the larger issues at play does not deny the problem of the piracy, it tries to go beyond it. We deal with Piracy with snipers. Great. But we need to beyond that in addition to policing it. To simply police the piracy is to chase bad money with more bad money: “just need more police and guns to protect our shipping fleet.” Sounds a lot like the old English Imperial commanders.

    Furthermore, global trade is based on a lot of dark political actions and manipulations. To suggest the Bob the innocent shipper is outside of this is again to miss the larger political context.

    Piracy is a symptom of a global economic system that is incapable of addressing its fundamental and immoral inequalities.

  48. RE: fishing- some of the closest calls when it’s come to Canada actually declaring war in the last half century were about fishing. Sounds silly? well pertly that’s just how Canada rolls, but this is food source here people!

    And I see a movie in this… Somalian hero (or if made for American audiences, visiting white american hero….) fighting toxic waste dumpers just off the coast..

  49. I think piracy just might be justified. When you consider two things: a few in this world that own nearly everything AND therefore there’s a good probability that the shipping owners AND the toxic waste dumpers are one in the same. Maybe the pirates did their research and know something we don’t. Of course that doesn’t justify harming or inconveniencing the crew in anyway.

  50. “The large corporations looting Africa are also pirates, as are your governments that aid and abet them. Which makes you morally a pirate too if you don’t oppose them.”

    Don’t want to be a pirate. Can I be a ninja instead?

  51. vennblender: To simply police the piracy is to chase bad money with more bad money

    Listen. very. slowly.

    The solution to piracy isn’t what I was objecting to. There isn’t anything in this thread that is actually attempting any sort of solution. Even your post isn’t offereing any sort of solution, you’re just trying to pin the blame of piracy on your particular villain of choice. Which is what everyone is doing, which is what I”m objecting to.

    Somali Pirate Bob takes a ship and ransoms the crew for 2 million dollars.

    Who’s fault is that? There is individual responsibility and then there are systemic solutions. Even if I were to agree that addressing “global economism” is the way to solve the somola piracy problem, I do not, for a second, hold to the idea that global economism is to blame for the individual acts of piracy or that the pirates are somehow less to blame for their acts of piracy because of global economism.

    The solution to the problem isn’t the blame of the problem.

    In #3, Takuan says we: “ignore the cause of the Somali circumstances that lead men to piracy.”

    The circumstances do not alter the individual responsibility of the pirates. At all. Ever. And any attempt to make emotive pleas that these pirates are anything less than warlords on boats out to make a buck needs be pointed out.

    No one here is suggesting solutions. A bunch of people here are trying to find ways to blame their favorite whipping boy for Somali pirates.

    I imagine that were Ted Kaczynski to weigh in on the topic of somali pirates, he’d blame high tech and demand a return to living off the land. That doesn’t mean he’s right. It means he’s got an opinion and is willing to blame everythign on his arch enemy.

    I’m sure that for the people blaming the Somali Pirates on “global economism”, that this isn’t the first time they found something to blame “global economism” for.

  52. @56 I have definitely heard of the Asian Tsunami but have yet to find any article that links the Tsunami with radioactive waste dumped in the ocean other than links to this article and other articles mentioning the claims of the Pirates. The UN released a report that said the tsunami picked up waste containers from on shore and broke them open thus spreading radioactive toxins that were a threat, but they were only refereeing to containers being stored on land, NOT containers dumped into the ocean that were washed ashore. Could you please point me to an article where they refer to the dumping in the ocean from sources other than Pirates.

  53. Why is it that whenever anyone offers an explanation for why pirates (or terrorists, or other problems) come to exist, others jump on that explanation as a condoning of their crimes?

    When you go do your doctor and he tells you what likely caused your throat infection, do you accuse him of sympathizing with throat infections?

  54. Why would a tsunami pick up a nuclear container lying on the ocean floor miles offshore and then deposit it on land? Tsunami’s don’t work like that.

  55. Pirates come to exist in modern times for the same reasons that they did historically – it’s an easy way of making money, and not much riskier than the environment in which they grew up. When human life is priced cheaply, more violent pursuits become worthwhile.

    What can you do about it? Nationbuiding could work, but the imposition of order upon a lawless state only seems to work historically when there are the remnants of a common culture/nationhood present (see Germany, Japan post WWII). To my mind, the most practical route is to forget trying to solve the problem at the root, and instead focus on removing the dangers of piracy from each country’s individual citizens. For example – during the age of the Barbary pirates, they learned after a while that attacking U.S. and British flagged ships was not worth it. The response was too severe. Perhaps it’s time for countries to start standing up for ships that sail under their flags?

  56. Greglondon:

    yes, pirates=bad (evil, greedy, dangerous, not Jack Sparrow). Yes, shoot them in head, please.

    But understand that there are larger things at play. When the Western media fails to connect the dots and report this as a simple problem of brigands they do a disservice to everyone. And so do you. There are no ‘individual acts of piracy’. That’s the point.

    You want an answer:

    Answer one: Inform yourself. Actually talking about the conditions that give rise to these things is the first step.

    Answer two: As someone else says, vote, refuse, protest, participate in politics and challenge the government that represents you when it goes to war.

    Answer three: Ignore all of the above because this is a comment thread, not an answer thread. Solutions cannot be produced in this environment. This is not a broken lawnmower, it is a historically corrupt system that is possibly impossible to overthrow but should nonetheless be seen for what it is: immoral, flawed, unfair, unjust, cruel.

  57. clay, because people are using language that either explicitely or implicitely shifts blame away from the pirates and/or wants you to sympathize with them as victims of “the man”.

    “Somali pirates versus European toxic-waste dumpers”

    versus? This makes it sound liek the pirates are in battle with the dumpers. They’re not.

    Not all the Somali “pirates” are gangsters

    If you take a ship and ransom the crew for money, you’re a pirate and a gangster.

    This is the context in which the “pirates” have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a “tax” on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence”.

    Somali Piracy has been going on since the 90’s. Last year alone, they got 150 million dollars in ransom. Right now a couple hundred crew members are being held hostage.

    Ships hijacked include a ship holding tanks and other heavy weapons, oil tankers, and relief aid freighters with food destined for the starving in africa.

    “some are clearly just gangsters … But … one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas.”

    Some are gangsters … but ??? But what? But Ali says he isn’t so he isn’t? Ali says the illegal fishing and dumping are bandits so they aren’t?

    In #3, in response to someone questioning the veracity of illegal dumping, Takuan says “everyone cheats, everyone lies, everyone bribes”. OK. But if everybody is illegally dumping and fishing, why isn’t everybody justified to become a pirate then?

    vennblender@36: Anyone who paints these Pirates as greedy is missing something pretty serious.

    Really? what should we call them then? Freedom Fighters?

    roastbeef@37 points to a chomsky notion that equates pirates and states as the same, just one of degrees.

    So, you might be reading this solely and purely as an explanation as to why pirates come to exist, but that isn’t solely what is in this thread. Some people are condoning pirates by saying they are no different than the state. Some are condoning and sympathizing by casting them as fighting the dumpers and fishers, rather than looking at the years of ransoms of random targets. Some are condoning by implying that while some “pirates” are truly gangsters… but… some therefore are NOT gangsters. That isn’t trying ot figure out “why pirates come to exist”, that’s shifting and assigning blame to someone other than the pirate.

    You want to know why these pirates come to exist? Because warlords need money to outgun the other warlords. And despite Takuan’s post @12 that says “The average Somali is screwed by the warlords and by the foreign powers that use the warlords”, this article shows that somali pirates get a lot of support from somali civilians because the pirates are spending their ransom money in somali towns, spreading the wealth around in true Tortuga fashion.

  58. But understand that there are larger things at play. … There are no ‘individual acts of piracy’.

    That’s exactly the bullshit I’m trying to point out. You refuse to acknowledge that there are ‘individual acts of piracy’ and want to make the entire problem some sort of systemic problme. What the fuck?

    Here’s a little mental exercise for you. Take Somalia and turn them into a state government. They’ve got a full fledged working representative government of some kind, police, military and navy. And their navy is hijacking ships and holding people ransom.

    Would you be so fucking sympathetic to these guys and say there are “no individual acts of piracy”? That there are larger things at play?

    The only reason you’re sympathizing with these murderous thugs is because you percieve them to be fighting your enemy, “global economism”, whatever the hell that is. But if they did exactly the same actions they are doing now, but were part of an official state, and therefore couldn’t be fighting your enemy of “global economism”, then you’d lose sympathy for them.

    There indeed are individual acts of piracy. AND there are systemic causes to piracy. You refuse to acknowledge the individual responsibility and want to shift to the systemci.

  59. Well, it’s all about privatization, really. In other words, if you’ve got the right connections, you are a privateer a la Francis Drake, or in modern times, the IMF. Without that official letter of marque, though, yer just a pirate. Too bad you never went to Yale, now die ya scurvy dog!

  60. Greg London, I think you need to cool down, man.

    Nowhere did I say prosperous states are naturally thuggish. I said that they have had a role in contributing to the downfall of some vulnerable ones. Many people in power failed to foresee it, some probably could have foreseen it if they had cared to – they just had other priorities. I rather doubt anyone set out to make Somalia into a place so broken that just sailing past it is hazardous.

    Nowhere did I downplay the vile nature of piracy. I said that people may be driven to it out of desperation – because, let’s face it, people who have multiple alternative careers open to them, tend to choose ones where the odds of their being shot in the head at short notice are low, unless the others are even worse.

    Situations drive people’s behaviour, and can make people do, and justify, things they would normally consider odious. Look at the Milgram experiments, look at the Stanford prison experiment.

    Get a bunch of decent, kind, thoughtful, considerate individuals together, form them into a committee, give them a mandate to achieve some competitive goal (get lots of money for our shareholders), make it clear you will reward them well if they succeed and fire them if they fail. The result will often be behaviour that none of the individuals would countenance in their private lives.

    Get a country-full of decent, kind, thoughtful, considerate individuals, make conditions around them so bad that just getting food, safe drinking water, and medication is a competitive goal, and you shouldn’t be surprised if some turn to things like piracy.

    Sure, pirates should probably be shot. There are probably corporate boards that should be rounded up and shot too. But neither of those things fixes the underlying problem – if you want to fix the problem, you have to fix the situation that leads to the problem.

  61. Why would men go out and risk their lives at sea and under the barrel of a gun? They are desperate. Is what they do right? No. Is what they do legal? No. Can we better understand what they do? Apparently GregLondon, the conversation stops there for you. They broke that law, they are punished and that is all you care about.

    I say: Yeah, so what? They do get punished as they should. Is this news? The news is (or should be) why we have so many pirates? What is going on here?

    Any event of violence is brutal and terrible for those who experience it. For those who don’t, we are left to ensure it doesn’t happen to us. That’s the conversation I’m pushing for and I doubt the answer is better policing.

    An act of piracy does not exist in a vacuum. (or, there is no individual act of piracy-obviously I don’t deny it happened, I deny that there are not other things to consider). This is because there are historical reasons that give rise to deviant behaviour. Do I know what these reasons are? No but if I don’t look I’ll be as ignorant those who think this is just about some greedy pirates. If these guys could make a living in a peaceful way they probably would.

    You seem to disavow a critique of the ‘system’ (whatever that is). Or at least it seems to upset you when people look for the conditions that give rise to piracy. On what grounds? That it can’t be done? That it is morally wrong to question things? What?

    I care less about the naivete of those that see the pirates as freedom fighters or seafaring Robin Hood heros than I do about people who refuse to explore the conditions of piracy, which implicate the foreign policy of Western nations.

    As you say yourself, there are both individual acts of piracy and there are systemic causes of piracy. I can’t comment on the individual acts besides saying that they are unfortunate and dangerous – there is no where to go with that conversation. I can say something about the systemic causes though.

  62. “Once upon a time a famous pirate prisoner was brought in front of Alexander the Great. Alexander asked him: ’Why do you infest the seas with so much audacity and freedom?’. The pirate answered: ’For the same reason you infest the earth; but because I do it with a little ship, I’m called pirate; because you do it with a big fleet you’re called emperor’”.
    De Civitate Dei, Augustine of Hippo

  63. Using the coast of Somalia for both toxic waste dumping fishing. Sounds like self induced poetic justice in the making.

  64. We should look at the situation surrounding the existence of the Pirates. Like someone said previously, nothing exists in a vacuum.

    However I think there is danger in this process when we start infantilising the Somali government and its people. Many of the analysis washes over the Somali contribution to their own problems and then goes straight for international intervention. There is a definite air of “Oh those poor people they just can’t take care of themselves, they need some big grown ups to come in and make it all better”. These are grown capable adults we are talking about here, a full country of them. Why do you think people chose to store dangerous waste in that particular country, more than likely someone living there bartered a deal with the people getting rid of the waste. Europe didn’t just pick the country out of a hat and go out of their way to drop it off in Somalia by chance. Yes developed countries contributed but you can’t ignore that their own people had a large part in their own government problems. We can’t always walk in and fix everything, sometimes a country and its people are going to have to fight it out until they come up with something that they can live with.

    In the mean time portraying the Pirates as some kind of vigilantes that just couldn’t help where they ended up because the situation was just so bad is naive. They could start helping to rebuilt their own country instead of kidnapping unrelated parties. They could go after the people in their country who got them in that situation. They could go after the people who are going to cause the rest of the world to refuse to do business anywhere near their country. They could get together and try to reinstate a government that works that is not based of theft and violence. They have chosen their path and now they will deal with the consequences.

  65. it seems to upset you when people look for the conditions that give rise to piracy

    has anyone here tried to shift the pirate’s individual responsibility of their actions away from the pirate? Anyone at all? Anyone in the least?

    If you say “no”, then you’re not reading the same thread I am.

  66. “’For the same reason you infest the earth; but because I do it with a little ship, I’m called pirate; because you do it with a big fleet you’re called emperor’”.

    This is bullshit, Tak, and you should know it. Somalia is the first shithole of planet earth, followed by Afghanistan.

    Of all the state governments currently operational on planet Earth, the vast majority of them far surpass the shithole conditions that the people of Somalia suffer.

    It doesn’t matter if they are pirates of if Somalia had an official governmetn and its Navy was boarding ships and demanding ransom. It doesn’t matter if they’re are a state or not. It matters what they are doing. And what they are doing is something that any other state could reasonably expect a military response of some kind.

  67. Several people seem to be saying that toxic dumping and foreign fishing are contradictory. But that makes the rather silly assumption that every organization in the world that is not Somali is coordinated with every other organization in the world that is not Somali.

    It’s simple; the people dumping and the people fishing are different people. And like the pirates, they’re all making money from the lack of a Somali government.

  68. @81.

    Some of your arguments are against those who would call the pirates freedom fighters but mostly you are arguing against people who haven’t tried to shift blame away from pirates.

    You seem to assume that anyone who places greater emphasis on the larger context somehow absolves the pirates and kidnappers.

    To the point, one more time, the pirates are a symptom. You don’t have to love the symptom to fight the sickness. But if you only fight the symptom you’ll never get better.

    Earlier on you wrote: “There are systemic problems that are creating the circumstances, sure. But that doesn’t absolve the individuals of their individual responsibility for their individual choices. And I’ve never heard any stories that said these Somali’s were being forced to become pirates”. The point of looking at the context is asking what was it that forced them into a situation where they were convinced it was a good idea to get shot in the head by a US sniper. Asking this question doesn’t absolve them of their crime. As many others have pointed out: corruption, grinding poverty, sickness, destitution, etc. These things lead some people to do horrible things. It is easier for them to justify such things when they see the absurd wealth of America, Canada, Europe. This world is fundamentally unequal to them.

    ***********

    @80. Well, said. It would be nice to have some Somali voices here. K’Naan, a Somali born musician has said some interesting things about this recently.

  69. and what “they” are doing”? You speak as if Somalia had a functioning government. Foreign interference (mostly Anglo-American – again) destroyed any government Somalia had. Afghanistan? Who bombed her into stone age shit hole status? To get revenge on people actually from elsewhere and who were trained , funded and equipped by America in the first place?

    “It matters what they are doing. And what they are doing is something that any other state could reasonably expect a military response of some kind.”

    “They” is who? A “state”? Show me the state of Somalia. All I see is the broken remains of a state populated a majority of poor and a sprinkling of hoodlums with guns. How can they raise themselves up? Look at the USA; eight years under criminal tyranny even with every resource and advantage with the people. And a narrow enough escape finally at that. Just what do yuo expect from the average person unfortunate enough to have been born in the path of the superpowers interests? They lost life’s lottery, you didn’t.

  70. Newsflash: Anarchists discover the tragedy of the commons!

    But if you try to do something about it you’re an evil neocon. So the Somalians will just have to live with it. I suppose they can serve as a sort of a monument to the stupidity of anarchism and non-interventionism.

    Still, sucks to be them.

  71. “I suppose they can serve as a sort of a monument to the stupidity of anarchism and non-interventionism.” Are you really that wilfully blind? You are going to sit there and pretend your hands are clean? Ah yes, the “non-interventionism” of the USA in Somalia. Go read a history book, even one printed in the USA.

  72. As long as we are going to stop pretending lets stop pretending that African countries have ever been socially stable in the first place. Everyone would love to think that the entire continent was just sunshine and pretty animals and everyone got along just fine until European colonization. The truth is that humans are humans and that war was a reality on the continent long before any Europeans showed up. To blame social instability entirely on European intervention is short sighted. The slave trade existed long before Caucasians where there. African tribes regularly took other tribes as slaves and wiped out whole communities during war. War is not a Anglo-Saxon problem, it is a human problem.

  73. who is blaming it entirely on the Europeans? They do however deserve their share of the blame for being there. No one gets a bye. What would Africa be today if she had been left alone for the past century?

  74. and what “they” are doing”?

    uh, I think its called kidnapping and extortion. At least one case of murder that I know of when a ransom wasn’t paid.

    You speak as if Somalia had a functioning government.

    I said even IF somalia had a functioning national government, and it was Somali naval ships boarding, kidnapping, and ransoming ships, the response would be little different.

    Foreign interference (mostly Anglo-American – again) destroyed any government Somalia had.

    What???

    Somalia declared war against Ethiopia in 1977, trying to reclaim its historical land that had been repartitioned by colonialism. Ethiopia got weapons from the Soviet Union. Somalia asked for guns from Carter. Carter turned them down. Somalia was destroyed by Ethiopia.

    By 1991, teh president of Somalia was overthrown by clan-based forces, all backed by Ethiopia.

    And it pretty much has been warlords ever since.

    I mean if you want to go back to colonialism destroying somalia, well, then a lot of countries used to be colonies of someone else, and still managed to form a central government of their own at some point.

    Afghanistan?

    Carter injected half a million dollars to get the Afghanis to revolt against their soviet-backed government. But Afghanis fought the fight, not americans.

    Who bombed her into stone age shit hole status?

    I’m pretty sure it was the Soviet Union.

    To get revenge on people actually from elsewhere and who were trained , funded and equipped by America in the first place?

    I’m pretty sure Carter didn’t use Afghanistan as a way to get “revenge” against the Soviet Union. I don’t think we should have left Afghanistan high and dry after the Soviets left, but that’s me.

    “It matters what they are doing. And what they are doing is something that any other state could reasonably expect a military response of some kind.”

    “They” is who? A “state”?

    Somali pirates. Or if somalia had a hypothetical state and their navy was hijacking ships and taking their crews hostage for ransom.

    See, I don’t care if they’re a state or not. I don’t care if they are anarchists or not. I care what they DO. ANd what they are doing is hijacking ships. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a government navy or a bunch of independent warlords, if you hijack a ship and demand ransom, you just lost the moral high ground.

    Show me the state of Somalia.

    Doesn’t matter if its a state or a bunch of independent warlords. What matters is their action.

    All I see is the broken remains of a state populated a majority of poor and a sprinkling of hoodlums with guns.

    Well, several different clans/warlords with guns. And the people seem to like the pirate warlords, at least the pirates who spend their booty in town.

    How can they raise themselves up?

    What does that have to do with their responsibility for their actions?

    Look at the USA; eight years under criminal tyranny even with every resource and advantage with the people. And a narrow enough escape finally at that. Just what do yuo expect from the average person unfortunate enough to have been born in the path of the superpowers interests? They lost life’s lottery, you didn’t.

    If it had been a Somali Naval Ships that have been comandeering and ransoming these vessels, my reaction woudl be the same. Some people insist on romanticizing them as the “underdog” fighting “the man” and that’s bullshit. These guys are thugs.

    You want to quote Augustine’s line about Alexander the Great and the Pirate? Fine. In that case, Alexander the Great is no different and no better than the Pirate.

    What does that get you in terms of civilization?

    That does nothing but reduce the state to the level of a thug and pirate. Congratulations.

    Except I know you don’t beleive the state is nothing but a thug, or you wouldn’t be so goddamn fucking mad when the state acts like a thug. If Augustine is RIGHT then the state should be expected to act no better than a PIRATE. So if you really believe that, why are you pissed that some pirate bombed Afghanistan “into stone age shit hole status”? What else would you expect a pirate to do other than to use force to take what it wants?

    You use Augustine’s line to justify a Pirate doing what he does by arguing that he’s no worse than the State. But you’re pissed when the State acts like a Pirate.

    You’re using Augustine’s line as a separate moral yardstick to measure pirates. And you have some other yardstick to measure states.

    Turn the Somali Pirates into the Somali Navy, have them do exactly the same fucking thing they’ve been doing, and suddenly you’re forced to use the “state” yardstick and you can no longer defend their actions.

    Because you want the State to act better than a bunch of fucking thugs.

    I do to. But I don’t give thugs a free pass just because they’re not a state.

  75. Was Augustine’s observation made in defense of piracy? Or might we more reasonably assume it was an indictment of imperialism? Do you suppose Takuan is quoting it with similar intent?

    Is it not possible to despise the thuggish conduct of both pirate and state, to expect better of both?

  76. Was Augustine’s observation made in defense of piracy? Or might we more reasonably assume it was an indictment of imperialism?

    I think “City of God” was written to say that all of history boiled down to a battle between “city of man” and “city of god” and that “God” would eventually win. If anything, I think Augustine was saying, basically, God rules, people drool.

    Do you suppose Takuan is quoting it with similar intent?

    No. I’m pretty sure Tak has a two-yardstick thing going on.

    The simple test is if you changed Somali Pirates to Somali Navy, would he defend the exact same actions? Or would he change his tune? It seems he is defending and finding excuses for the non-state actors, but I think if they were state actors (Somali Navy, for example), then I don’t think he would defend them.

    I also think that if the Somali Navy had been attacking ships, I don’t think it would have made BoingBoing news. But that’s a different matter.

    Is it not possible to despise the thuggish conduct of both pirate and state, to expect better of both?

    To expect better of pirates???

    What does that even mean?

    Anyone expecting better of pirates, war lords, thugs, and brigands, needs to stop watching Hollywood movies for a while.

  77. Takuan: your unwavering self-righteousness does a disservice to your arguments. Just an fyi.

  78. FreeYourCRT:

    a few in this world that own nearly everything AND therefore there’s a good probability that the shipping owners AND the toxic waste dumpers are one in the same.

    Extremely unlikely, given that the ships attacked by Somali pirates range from U.S. Navy vessels to international relief ships to garden-variety freighters to little coast-hopping cargo carriers. The only class thus defined is “They were passing by and we caught them.”

    All bad guys are not the same bad guys.

  79. Tak, are you being deliberately dense?

    I don’t care if the somali people attacking ships in the Gulf of Aden are pirates, privateers, or official government naval crews of the Somali Navy.

    I don’t care because the morality of their actions doesn’t depend on their status. If the US started taking ship crews captive and demanding ransom, I’d say it was just as immoral as if somali teenagers did it on a dare.

    The who doesn’t affect the morality of the action.

    You insist on maintaining this incredularity about the possibility of a Somali Navy as if it is so outrageous that it doesnt require to think beyond the mere mention of it.

    If it helps, think of it as one of Einstein’s thought experiments. Something that is impossible to happen in real life, but helps the thinker understand something better.

    I don’t give a ratt’s ass if these guys are Navy or if they are Pirate. I don’t care if they work for Alexander the Great or if they work for Augustine’s Pirate. I don’t give a damn either way, because my measuring stick of morality is based on the action taken, not on who took the action.

    If you insist on ignoring that distinction and instead respond all agog at the infinite improbability of a Somali Navy, well, I’ve explained it best I can.

  80. If the US started taking ship crews captive and demanding ransom…

    Takuan responding with “But the Evil US Empire has already been doing this for years!!” in 3….2….1….

    1. zeek_tramba,

      Since you haven’t actually contributed anything to the subject of the post, have a day off.

  81. Fill in the blank:

    Shoot a pirate in the head and you stop an act of piracy for a day.

    _____________________________ and you stop piracy for a lifetime.

  82. Greg: when the bombs start falling, again, who is going to die?

    whatever answer you think is the “right” answer, doesn’t change the morality of these somali people taking ship crews captive and ransoming them money.

    It just doesn’t matter.

    They’re responsible for any piracy they commit. And if anyone drops bombs on Somalia, the bomb droppers are responsible for their act of bomb dropping.

  83. The international community.
    Attacking merchant ships is a somewhat suspicious method for promoting peace.

  84. so the most probable party to bomb Somalia is the USA and it is up to the international community to stop them? Think it would work? It’s worth a try since most of those killed by a direct attack would be innocents.

  85. Greg:”I don’t care because the morality of their actions doesn’t depend on their status.”
    So if a millionaire steals bread from a store it is no worse than a starving man trying to keep himself alive? The world is not such a simple place. Now granted, many of these pirates are not starving but the reason they became pirates is because they come from impoverished communities and were desperate. Now that they have started making money, they have gotten greedy etc. I do agree these pirates need to be taken out but at the same time, more attention needs to be focused on why they resorted to such measures in they first place. The fact that you call all the pirates evil is absurd since you have no proof that every single pirate has taken a ship hostage for millions and it is possible the “pirates” this article was talking about has not done such drastic things. Don’t ever generalize people as you will always create false conclusions from that assumption.

  86. It’s evidenced by the threats that the pirates made after the three of them were killed that it has nothing to do with illegal dumping or fishing in the waters (anymore). Like many righteous movements with a noble cause, this one has been corrupted by power. The pirates are now in the international spotlight and they make a threat, rather than plead a case or explain their cause. This doesn’t seem too logical to me.

  87. Oh, the year was 1778, HOW I WISH I WAS IN SHERBROOKE NOW!
    A letter of marque come from the king,
    To the scummiest vessel I’d ever seen,

    God damn them all!
    I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
    We’d fire no guns-shed no tears
    Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
    The last of Barrett’s Privateers.

    Oh, Elcid Barrett cried the town, HOW I WISH I WAS IN SHERBROOKE NOW!
    For twenty brave men all fishermen who
    would make for him the Antelope’s crew

    God damn them all!
    I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
    We’d fire no guns-shed no tears
    Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
    The last of Barrett’s Privateers.

    The Antelope sloop was a sickening sight,HOW I WISH I WAS IN SHERBROOKE NOW!
    She’d a list to the port and and her sails in rags
    And the cook in scuppers with the staggers and the jags

    God damn them all!
    I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
    We’d fire no guns-shed no tears
    Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
    The last of Barrett’s Privateers.

    On the King’s birthday we put to sea, HOW I WISH I WAS IN SHERBROOKE NOW!
    We were 91 days to Montego Bay
    Pumping like madmen all the way

    God damn them all!
    I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
    We’d fire no guns-shed no tears
    Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
    The last of Barrett’s Privateers.

    On the 96th day we sailed again, HOW I WISH I WAS IN SHERBROOKE NOW!
    When a bloody great Yankee hove in sight
    With our cracked four pounders we made to fight

    God damn them all!
    I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
    We’d fire no guns-shed no tears
    Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
    The last of Barrett’s Privateers.

    The Yankee lay low down with gold, HOW I WISH I WAS IN SHERBROOKE NOW!
    She was broad and fat and loose in the stays
    But to catch her took the Antelope two whole days

    God damn them all!
    I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
    We’d fire no guns-shed no tears
    Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
    The last of Barrett’s Privateers.

    Then at length we stood two cables away, HOW I WISH I WAS IN SHERBROOKE NOW!
    Our cracked four pounders made an awful din
    But with one fat ball the Yank stove us in

    God damn them all!
    I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
    We’d fire no guns-shed no tears
    Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
    The last of Barrett’s Privateers.

    The Antelope shook and pitched on her side, HOW I WISH I WAS IN SHERBROOKE NOW!
    Barrett was smashed like a bowl of eggs
    And the Maintruck carried off both me legs

    God damn them all!
    I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
    We’d fire no guns-shed no tears
    Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
    The last of Barrett’s Privateers.

    So here I lay in my 23rd year, HOW I WISH I WAS IN SHERBROOKE NOW!
    It’s been 6 years since we sailed away
    And I just made Halifax yesterday

    God damn them all!
    I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold
    We’d fire no guns-shed no tears
    Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier
    The last of Barrett’s Privateers

  88. Takuan: and who is responsible, THIS TIME, for trying to stop the bombs BEFORE they fall

    The phrase you will never utter is this: The pirates are responsible for acts of piracy.

    If you want to keep dancing around that simple fact and avoid individual responsibility, well, it’s going to get really old really fast.

    As for military response, I’m not quite so certain that Obama will authorize bombing Somalia. Not that it has fuck-all to do with pirates being thugs with guns, but carpet bombing somalia won’t solve anything. Any operation on land in somalia will immediately invoke “Black Hawk Down” comparisons. And I really don’t think we have the manpower to send in the marines.

    Not that it has fuck-all to do with the pirates being responsible for their acts of piracy.

  89. So if a millionaire steals bread from a store it is no worse than a starving man trying to keep himself alive?

    This is fucking propaganda. No somali pirate is kidnapping to keep himself alive. Even suggesting this is comparable is absolute bullshit. No somali war lord is war-lording to keep himself alive, they’re all war-lording for one fucking thing: POWER. If you think any of these assholes are doing what they’re doing for any other reason, wake the fuck up.

    There are ten-million people in Somalia. The number of pirates probably number less than ten-thousand.

    Somehow the other nine-million-nine-hundred-ninety-nine-thousand Somalis have figured out a way to survive without resorting to piracy.

    And the reason Somalia is such a shit hole is because the warlords have been fighting amongst themselves for the last two decades. They’re not fighting to survive. THey’re not fighting to feed themselves. THey don’t give a fuck about the Somali civilians. They’re fighting because they all want the power.

    The world is not such a simple place.

    Good advice. You should consider it before you present your next strawman.

  90. so Greg, you are going to continue to pretend that
    American and other outside interests played no part in the ruining of Somalia. Very well, the history remains whether you refuse to read it or not.

    The day before the first bomb fell on Iraqi civilians in the name of removing the American installed Saddam Hussein, I publicly asked “How many Iraqis will be granted American citizenship now that their self determination is being utterly removed and many will inevitably be made refugees in a ruined country.” We say how that turned out. At least a million dead and more than million displaced – and how many got citizenship by the way?
    Rather like Viet Nam, still independent, still “communist” and still up to four million dead?

    If the USA finds it expedient to her strategic interests to “put down piracy”, it will no doubt entail the mass killing of Somalis by air attacks.
    Nearly all that die will people who’s limited government and society were destroyed years ago by foreign meddling and who have since lived at the pleasure of gangsters – gangsters who will now serve as the excuse to kill more innocent civilians.

    The sheer cynicism of it all.

  91. At last via extreme measures you are hearing about the dumping of nuclear and toxic waste off the coast of Somalia. The Somali people have been going thru the “normal” procedures for years to get this known and yet nothing has been done. How many of you had heard of this before? Dumping of toxic chemicals have gone on for years and continues in our own rivers and lakes. Fortunately it’s well known here without our having to become pirates to get enough attention to tell the world our situation. Still little is being done. It is naive to think that what Mr. Ould-Abdullah is saying is not the truth. To him and all of Somalia I apologize for the hatred being directed to your country.

  92. What you people do not understand is that these villages being labelled the pirate’s dens, where fishing villages before. They formed armed bands to protect their unsophisticated fishing vessels from the foreign trawlers. These trawlers where illegal foreign vessels that used fake names and such to disguise their origins and so any time they got boarded, their owners simply paid the armed locals to keep it all quiet and to get their crew back. As people began to get rich on this they realised it was easy money and warlords got in on the act. Now its mostly a full fledged piracy operation run by the warlords and nobody wants to consider that a lot of the minions who actually board vessels have no other means of surviving in the villages. The threats are from the warlords who don’t exactly speak for every Somalian in the region. Nation building is the answer.

  93. Takuan: so Greg, you are going to continue to pretend that American and other outside interests played no part in the ruining of Somalia. Very well, the history remains whether you refuse to read it or not.

    Iran: 1953, operation ajax.

    Iraq: 1983, National Security Decision Directive 4-82

    Got anything like that for Somalia? A specific action, at a specific time?

    The day before the first bomb fell on Iraqi civilians in the name of removing the American installed Saddam Hussein, I publicly asked “How many Iraqis will be granted American citizenship…

    That’s just a dumb question, Tak. Name one war the US has launched where we grant American citizenship to the civilians in that country. Name any war launched by any country where the attacker did that to the civilians of the attacked nation.

    I opposed invading Iraq from the beginning. But this is just run off the rails and rolled straight into fantasy land.

  94. regarding citizenship and freedom: when you roll your tanks into another country in the name of these and dismantle the society and government that was there you have effectively colonized. Is America an imperial power? No? Then those you have forcibly converted to “freedom ” are by any moral right “citizens”. You took their self-determination, they belong to you now. Or is there another class than “citizen”? Slave, maybe?

  95. Greg: http://www.africaspeaks.com/somalia/240304.html

    Understanding Carter’s financing the Afghan revolt against the Soviet Union doesn’t absolve the Taliban of coming power after the Soviet’s left. It explains how we fucked up, but it doesn’t absolve the Taliban of giving Al Queda safe haven to train for its terrorist attacks.

    Our intervention in Somalia and Ethiopia explains how we fucked up there, but it doesn’t absolve the Somali’s or Ethiopians of their responsibility for their actions.

    Then those you have forcibly converted to “freedom ” are by any moral right “citizens”.

    I don’t know what playbook you’re using, but it’s not the Geneva Convention. There are rules for Occupied lands. And the rules don’t say give them citizenship. Israel, for example, refuses to acknowledge that it is “occupying” palestinian territories specifically because of the requirements of the Geneva Convention.

  96. Mr. Corry Doctorow,
    Thanks for shedding the light so well!!

    THE FIRST POSTER ALEX M and Greglondon
    WHY DON’T U TWO GET A ROOM AND PLAY WITH YOUR FECES EH?! ok jokes a side…

    Greglondon, It amazes me how u can swing from writing intelligent well balanced well researched
    Info about Somalia to unlearned meany bigoted cruel fascist! Instead of criticizing why don’t
    you try to walk a mile in thier shoes??
    and then keep walking :razz:

    Mr. Takuan My respect Sir!

    DRAGONFROG,
    vennblender
    freeyourcrt
    Greglondon @28
    OCKER3
    DURAN MCLENING
    Greglondon @28
    DURAN MCLENING WAS IT?

    well said all….

    Shoot a pirate in the head and you stop an act of piracy for a day.

    _____________________________ and you stop piracy for a lifetime.

    Why don’t u fill the freaking blanks for me eh?! You litle pitiful schmuch! be brave and say it whatever ur suggesting..

    JSK, THANKS FOR THE KIND WORDS TO MY
    PEOPLE…

    ——————————————————-

    this article was an attempt to give a glimpse into understanding the pirate’s i feel – it wasn’t a justification.

    people are dieing of starvation in fishing villages because other nations are coming in with giant boats and clearing out their seas. they are desperate people in a desperate nation.

    it is not the people’s fault. look at the US we elected bush for president not once but TWICE!!!

    nazi germany – not every person born in germany at that time was “evil” – they are in situations that they don’t know how to get out of.

    this does NOT make it right
    but we have to understand this to figure out what to do about it.

    if we merely fight back with force they will turn to actual terrorists with different agendas – start working for others running arms or aiding in bigger terrorist organizations.

    right now the terrorists stay away from the pirates and the pirates stay away from the terrorists. they want nothing to do with each other.

    something needs to be done but you can’t just make things black and white.

    if you merely criminalize them and punish them they will get even more desperate and it will be even harder for them to gain some sort of normal government and a way of life in the seas.

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