The real solution is to create a stable environment under the rule of law within
So, in the name of finding a way that allows us to move beyond our semi-fetishistic infatuation with piracy, here are a few solutions that ideally should work in concert but even individually implemented can point towards progress:
Engagement – co-opt the pirates
We can’t look for parallels in past wars and pirate stories, as entertaining and inspiring as the story of the Barbary Wars are. President Jefferson’s attacks on pirate states were successful because he could attack a functioning state and defeat it.
That’s not going to happen here in
Western nations have already agreed to pony up $200m to help
Force – maintain a credible naval force in local waters
Old habits die hard so keep a credible military presence in the region. The key word is “credible” here. It’s too expensive and unrealistic to maintain a sizable force in the area in the long term. The naval force in the region is already hitting back at pirates, with arrests of pirates recently showing marked improvement. Nations can share duties, create convoys, escort ships through a “cordon sanitaire” where they can better protect boats.
Whatever we do, allied forces cannot put “boots on the ground” for anything more than a surgical strike.
Putting soldiers on the ground in
- Expensive – imagine all the logistics that would need to be in place
- Hard to maintain – see above
- Unlikely to succeed in the chaos that is that tortured region (All commanders in the area please read “Black Hawk Down”). Even if allied forces manage to squash the pirates, it will be temporary. Does anyone really believe that in a place as desperate as Somalia, other pirates won't take their place the moment they get the chance?
- Likely turn everyone there against us – pirates will soon become freedom fighters and a cause to rally around for a country that doesn’t have much else going for it.
There’s a great anecdote I heard that may well be apocryphal but illustrates a point. Pirated copies of “Black Hawk Down” made the rounds of
Heart and minds – investigate and prosecute illegal fishing and dumping
The pirates have a lot of local backing because they are not only a source of income for communities but also they are defenders of local waters to many. Foreign trawlers, primarily from Arabia, Europe and
On top of that, the FAO also had strong suspicions that boats had dumped toxic waste in local waters. Somali rapper K’naan has claimed that 300 Somalis have died as a result.
You’ve got to take claims from a Somali rapper with a hefty grain of salt, but he represents something critical: a perception among Somalis of the complete disregard for their waters by foreign countries. It’s a surprise that there aren’t more Somali pirates rather than that there are any at all.
The solution: Show the Somalis the world is serious about protecting its livelihood. Investigate illegal fishing and toxic dumping in local waters. Presumably there isn’t much of that happening now given the oceans off east
In addition to that, send modern fishing boats, reintroduce fish into local waters, provide coast guard support to strictly enforce local fishing laws until
Deterrent - don't make piracy easy
Don’t make it so easy for pirates to attack. Although there are plenty of evasive maneuvers once ships come under attack, making a ship less “attackable” helps, things like barbed wire on the gunwales, installing alarms, having frequent patrols. A lot of pirate attacks happen in port so check the ship before sailing, and be vigilant in port. Helping ships follow these best practices makes attacking ships less profitable.And don't arm ships' crews. It's just not a good idea.
Force isn’t the only deterrent. There’s also the law, and Roger Middleton from