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Containing Piracy Won’t Work

March 9, 2009

Rather than solving the problem once and for all, Eagle1 is suggesting we suppress piracy through a form of containment. He writes:

Containment involves limiting the damage that can be caused by pirates. This can be carried out by naval patrols, convoys, establishing safe routes and blockades of pirate ports, the very sort of activity we now see by naval units in the area.

In the future, private ship escort “navies” or other techniques may be employed by ship owners to control the safety of their ships. If poor shipping companies can’t afford protection, then the pirate targets will be limited to ships that probably can’t pay much in the way of ransom. This will affect the pirates’ bottom line and screw up their business model.

Containing the level of piracy, while guarding against complete sea line of communication disruption, allows time for something to happen internally in Somalia that may allow that failed nation to regroup and control its own territorial waters and the operational areas of the pirates.

The latter statement “allows time for something to happen internally in Somalia” sounds like so much wishful thinking. The US has been waiting for something to happen in Somalia since 1993, as we once kept wishing for Saddam Hussein to go away throughout the 1990s.

The word containments sounds a lot like “not fighting”, basically what we were doing in Iraq from 2003-2006, or at least not in a smart way. Meanwhile, the causalities mounted while we waited for the Iraq Army to step up. When the military became actively involved in seeking out and destroying the terrorists from 2007 on, instead of waiting for them to go away, then real change happened and a hope for peace.

Previously, Ronald Reagan put an end to 40+ years of containment by actively attacking the Soviet’s economic system, sowing the seeds of doubt by questioning its very existence, and even militarily by supporting anti-communists movements worldwide, even as some sought to keep the crippling arms race going indefinitely.

Rather than restarting another “40 Years War”, a naval Surge would work against the pirates. The nautical equivalent of “boots on the ground” would be small boats, plus Marines which can land and destroy enemy bases. Large Aegis battleships cannot safely follow the pirates into their shallow water haunts and are vulnerable to the simplest asymmetric threats, but real littoral ships can, like corvettes, HSV’s, or even the CB90 boats used by the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.

Why go to all this trouble to erase what some have termed a relatively minor threat? Because they are breaking the law, as William Lind explains:

…piracy is a barometer of order. It has been so since Roman times. When order weakens, pirates flourish. When order returns, pirates are hunted down and hanged. The piracy barometer tells us order is vanishing fast. That should not surprise us, since order in the post-Westphalian world of the past 360 years depends on states.

Piracy is only the barometer; the storm will be something else. That storm is coming, and soon, as Brave New World’s promise of unending material wealth in return for acceptance of an administered life proves a lie. By the time the storm is over, the elites who fear to hang pirates will be facing far more immediate and deadly dangers themselves.

America has chaos on its border, chaos in our financial system, and is dealing with chaos in the Middle East. If we further have to contend with anarchy on the high seas, we put at risk the entire maritime global system, which so much of our trade and a great chunk of our economy depend. Time to nip this new scourge in the bud.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim Gray permalink
    March 10, 2009 6:15 pm

    Containment of Piracy is merely a band aid on the problem. As long the Host Nation (where the pirates operate from) have allowed pirates home bases. They will continue. Host Nations where it exists, often are not in control, their Govt Offices inflitrated, or stretched in resources to thing to do anything about piracy. However, they don’t want to compromise their soverignty by inviting in other nations military to handle the problem. The Navies can capture Pirates but if there isn’t Court system to try and convict them, there is no stopping them from doing it again. Kill the Pirates at sea, they just get new ones. The Navies can hammer them to the point the won’t come out, but when it becomes too expensive for the Navy to be there and leave the pirates will be back in force.
    Piracy is just not Somalia its world wide. That area has the attention now. but look around and see where it is also in the world.

  2. Mike Burleson permalink
    March 10, 2009 6:11 am

    “if Navy officers were given a free hand in their ROE, they probably would’t do anything either”

    Thats a good point. For doing the right thing the past 8 years, such as protecting the country from terrorists, our soldiers and some politicians have been demeaned and defamed by the liberal apologists of terror in the Media.

  3. Robert Stoner permalink
    March 10, 2009 12:34 am

    The problem is that with the current ROE (rules of engagement) being written by lawyers and JAGs, the Navy cannot kill the pirates when it finds them. We have take them back and try them in some third world court. Yup. Right. Sounds like a wonderful plan.

    On the other hand, if Navy officers were given a free hand in their ROE, they probably wouldn’t do anything either because they are too afraid of making a mistake that could administratively shorten their naval career.

    Nothing will be done.

  4. Mike Burleson permalink
    March 9, 2009 12:43 pm

    I agree that ALL warships are vulnerable to a Cole-style attack, even the ones that cost less than $2 billion each.

  5. B.Smitty permalink
    March 9, 2009 12:38 pm

    Corvettes and HSVs are certainly vulnerable to Cole-style attacks. And they would undoubtedly sink if hit by the same-sized blast as the one that hit Cole.

    Do we really think pirates would resort to suicide attacks? They don’t seem to up for fighting or dying.

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