What The Continued Existence Of Somali Pirates Tells Us

Somali Pirates may be fearsome foes to unarmed merchant vessels, but they’re no match for any nation with a modern military. If the United States or Britain decided to put an end to Somalian piracy, we could probably do so relatively easily. So, why does this keep happening?

Somali pirates are reported to have received a total of $12.3m (:£7.6m) in ransom money to release two ships.

They are believed to have been paid a record $9.5m (:£5.8m) for Samho Dream, a South Korean oil tanker, and nearly $2.8m (:£1.7m) for the Golden Blessing, a Singaporean flagged ship.

“We are now counting our cash,” a pirate who gave his name as Hussein told Reuters news agency. “Soon we shall get down from the ship.”

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…The BBC’s Kevin Mwachiro in Nairobi says the size of the payment is likely to change the rules of engagement when it comes to securing the release of ships held by Somali pirates. They are currently holding at least 25 vessels.

…According to a recent report by the International Maritime Bureau, a maritime watchdog, ship hijackings hit a five-year high in the first nine months of 2010, with Somali pirates responsible for the majority.

You want to put an end to Somalian piracy? Send the Navy to the area and kill every pirate you catch. Either we kill them in combat or hang them without a trial. We find a village that’s supporting the pirates? We shell it. You do that to a couple of villages and guess what? Everyone will become very reluctant to continue to support piracy.

To some people, this undoubtedly sounds horrible. Hang pirates without trials? Shelling villages that support the pirates? Why, that sounds barbaric!

Here’s the thing: What we’re doing now doesn’t work. Doing what I suggested? World history suggests it will work. Our own history says it will work. The Germans and Japanese could tell you all about it.

But, the more advanced our technology becomes, the more we fool ourselves into believing that we can make war compassionate. In the end, all we really do is make everyone suffer longer. Curtis LeMay once said, “If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting.” We should stop kidding ourselves and pretending that all of our technology changes that basic fact.

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