Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ARRGH!!! Barbary Pirates, 21st Century Style

"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli." We have heard it all our lives, but how many times have we thought about the words? The U.S. Marine Corps got its start fighting the Barbary Pirates along the southern Mediterranean coast, i.e. Tripoli. Now we have a similarly dangerous situation along the coast of Somalia with the pirates, who are raiding the world's shipping in that part of the Indian Ocean.

The recent hijacking of a container ship sailing under the U.S. flag brought this country directly into the conflict. This issue reared its ugly head some time ago, but there is still no organized effort to bring these pirates under control. Somalia is in a state of anarchy and has been in that condition for at least ten years, so there is no government there to control them. It will be up to a coalition of forces to bring these outlaws to their knees. There should be no unilateral action by this country or any country.

It is a mystery to me as to why ships are still sailing that area unarmed. It has been well known for some time that they are totally helpless when attacked by only three or four well armed men. Why aren't the shipping companies taking action to protect their ships? Throughout the world there are mercenary companies with well equipped private soldiers open for business. All the shipping companies have to do is contract with one of these "private security companies" to provide a small contingent of private marines for each ship traveling in the area.

This country has several of these so-called private security companies. Blackwater, the infamous U.S. Defense Department contractor in Iraq should have people available to U.S. shipping. It might be expensive, but not nearly as much as having a ship and crew held hostage for weeks with a high valued cargo. The killers-for-hire should love to take on a few Somali pirates. They could easily quench their thirst for killing and do a really valuable service at the same time.

I would bet that once these killers took the pirates on a few times and piracy became a bit more difficult, shipping in the western Indian Ocean might become safer rather quickly. As long as three or four teenagers can take a ship, they will continue to do so, but once they become shark food, others may think twice about the "easy" money.

If the shipping companies do not try to help themselves, they will continue to lose. Then the governments of the world are going to have to get together and take down the pirates with a major show of force as was done during the Barbary Wars in the early 19th Century. It will take almost complete destruction of the pirates' ability to fight, since there is no Somalian government to keep them under control. Maybe the U.S. Marines will be able to add yet another line to their hymn 200 years later.

No comments: