Bob Barr: ‘Somali pirates — you lose’

2008 Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Bob Barr writes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I’ll be writing more very shortly regarding the issue of dealing with Somali pirates, but I have just two words in reaction to the manner in which President Obama dealt with those who hijacked the Maersk Alabama and kidnapped its American captain — Well Done!

Armed pirates hijacking American-flag vessels and U.S. citizens are not simply “criminals,” and the “situations” they create are not simply “hostage situations.” Rather these are hostile, armed actions against the United States, and if we are to maintain credibility and have any hope of preventing further such terorist acts, we must act decisively, quickly, and if necessary, harshly. The Obama Administration showed that at least in this instance, it understands this concept (as Ronald Reagan did in 1985 and 1986, and as Gerald Ford did in 1975).

106 thoughts on “Bob Barr: ‘Somali pirates — you lose’

  1. Trent Hill

    While Barr is right that the US Government was within it’s rights to protect a US citizen, this was not handled correctly.

    The pirates had run out of ammo and tried to give over the captain in exchange for amnesty—we should have taken that offer. Killing 3 of them has made the US into enemy #1.

  2. Susan Hogarth

    Armed pirates hijacking American-flag vessels and U.S. citizens are not simply “criminals,”…

    Yes, they are.

    Rather these are hostile, armed actions against the United States,

    No, they are not. Last time I checked, the United States wasn’t floating off the coast of Africa (well, perhaps literally it is…).

    and if we are to maintain credibility and have any hope of preventing further such terorist acts

    Criminal acts != terrorism.

    Sheesh. And this from a lawyer.

    BTW, ‘terrorist’ is spelled wrong. Bad editor! You’d think they wanted to make Barr look like an idiot. Hmmmm…

  3. HS

    “The pirates had run out of ammo and tried to give over the captain in exchange for amnesty—we should have taken that offer. Killing 3 of them has made the US into enemy #1.”

    Where did you read this?

    “Armed pirates hijacking American-flag vessels and U.S. citizens are not simply “criminals,”

    Historically, this is a true statement because piracy has always been labled as a special class of crime.

    “Rather these are hostile, armed actions against the United States,”

    No, it’s piracy in its historic form. It’s a hostile, armed action against mariners that fly flags of various nations. It is then up to the navies of such nations or their allies to protect these mariners. Now, if organized pirate groups start seeking out and attacking French and US ships based on their nationality as revenge, it would probably still fall under criminal rather than anti-terror laws.

  4. HS

    Thanks for the link. Definately a reputable article, but I doubt pirates will get much sympathy being that they are pirates. But it is interesting that the pirates often speak to the media trying to justify their business and claimed contributions to the local villages, along with the fact that they are known for treating their captors well (although they still captured them, etc).

  5. Bryan

    Under the current circumstances, I agree with Barr, there was a hostile action, and it was responded to…

    That said, my initial “gut” reaction to the piracy problem was ‘why didn’t these ships provide security for their crew and cargo?’.

    I will admit that I am not familiar with the armaments allowed on a “civilian” vessel, especially when this ship is sailing international waters. However, considering most of the pirate “gangs” run in groups of 4-8, on one or two small craft, two to four well armed personnel (along with weapons for the entire crew) would have a pretty good shot at repelling, from a defensive position, the attempt to board. Because many of the ships in this area do carry oil, this would necessitate a “trail” craft containing the security element.

    Thanks to our seemingly never ending war in Iraq, we have created hundreds of personnel who are trained in anti-insurgency/unconventional tactics. Considering our current economy, I feel sure some of these guys would jump at the chance to earn good money performing a job which they underwent extensive training to learn.

    If dead pirates start to wash up on the Samoli shores, I can’t help but feel there would be some detrimental effect on future illegal activity.

    If or when future hostage problems arise, then if US ships are in the area, they could supply support (similar to Sunday’s action). If American ships are not available, then we could possibly work with other countries for a coalition in the area. (Whoever is closest on scene, would get the call for action)

    But to repeat, I think the first security should come from the commercial vessels themselves.

  6. Trent Hill

    Bryan,

    Security should come from the commercial vessels themselves. I dont think it is a good idea to have US navy ships escorting oil tankers all over the world on the taxpayer’s dime. Like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–it will inevitably lead to negative consequences. We’ll start to be hated.

    Already, US officials are talking about making “strategic strikes” against the land-based headquarters of these pirate groups. Each pirate corp seems to act completely independently, sort of like a small business, with not much in the way of heirarchy. There could be as many as 100 seperate pirate groups, constituting over 1000+ pirates and support personel.

  7. Bryan

    I too have seen a US “action” is being considered…but as you said, these “gangs” are generally small groups. I think of them similar to the cells in Viet Nam. They are part of a village, and go out to work, and then return to their villages where they intermingle with the innocent civilian population.

    They should be “caught in the act”, and ships should be able to provide security to repel these attacks. Aside from hired security, the crew must feel (I know I would) that they are fighting for their lives. In the end…problem solved…

  8. Bryan

    Oh, Trent, I didn’t mean in my first comment that it would be an escort from the Navy, but rather a hired craft.

    The Navy of our country or some other country would only play a role in the event of extended hostage episodes. (But to be honest, I’m ok with private “resolution” of these situations as well…but it might get ugly…and some of our more squeamish may not always approve of the outcome.)

  9. Jeff

    Glad they’re dead. They need to arm the merchant marines to the teeth. These tankers are sparsely populated often with crews in single digits. For those of you still seeking love from other countries, get with the program. These folks are killing our sailors and the ship is flying the U.S. flag. Paying them off will only encourage further acts of piracy. These clowns are building mansions in somalia off of the profits from these criminal acts.

  10. derkel

    “While Barr is right that the US Government was within it’s rights to protect a US citizen, this was not handled correctly.”

    This was handled 100% correctly. They waited until the perfect time to take out the Pirates. The Navy played the Pirates which allowed them to tow the boat out to sea.

    “The pirates had run out of ammo and tried to give over the captain in exchange for amnesty—we should have taken that offer. Killing 3 of them has made the US into enemy #1.”

    I did not hear they ran out of ammo, which would seem almost impossible to know.

    They wouldn’t have taken the offer of amnesty. They wanted money. Why do you think the pirates were waving to their friends and yucking it up?

    The US is already enemy #1 in Somalia. This won’t hurt our standing there any.

    I do agree it could be bad because they will be quicker to kill hostages, but this was definitely the right move. The pirates didn’t deserve to breathe anymore.

  11. mdh

    I honestly wouldn’t have given in to an offer of amnesty even if they were out of ammo. Supporting non-initiation of force is different from pacifism. I’m the farthest thing from a pacifist if you initiate force against me or my people.

    Who cares what other countries think? We should be doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, not because of peer pressure. Going into Afghanistan was not the right thing. Neither was going into Iraq. Killing off some criminals who were committing a violent crime, on the other hand, almost certainly was.

  12. Steven R Linnabary

    I am no expert on this, but maybe the “pirates” might be acting in self defense. On top of that, I get real skeptical when democrats and republicans overwhelmingly agree.

    http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/you-are-being-lied-to-about-pirates/

    According to this, western nations are (and have been) dumping nuclear waste off the Somali shore and over fishing the Somali waters, exacerbating the already dreadful food shortage.

    And western nations will not stop, because they will not recognize any of the already operating governments there (Somaliland in the north and/or the Wahhabi in the south).

    A case can be made that the so called pirates are merely collecting a tax on those responsible for the hazardous waste dumping.

    PEACE

  13. Trent Hill

    I disagree. While it was handled fairly well, it definetly could have been resolved before it ever started.

    However, letting the pirates go in exchange for the life of the captain would’ve been the right move. The captain’s life was in very real danger during the firefight–and the pirates werent asking for a ransom anymore, just to be set free. We could have even offered to take them in and charge them with 10 years or something–we were in complete control, no need to kill.

  14. Trent Hill

    Steven makes an interesting point–an addition to it is that these “pirates” refer to themselves as the “Volunteer Coast Guard”.

  15. derkel

    Trent,

    I’m pretty sure there was no firefight. There were three shots and three dead pirates. When the Seals decide to shoot (from a 30 yard chip shot no less) they aren’t going to miss. The Seals were extremely careful about when they took the shots. This situation was planned perfectly.

    Saying there was no need to kill is somewhat insane. They took the shot because the pirate had an AK to the Captain’s back.

    Sorry, when you take Americans hostage and try to hold us for ransom, you are in no longer in a position to negotiate.

    I would have exchanged the captain for their amnesty and still blew their ship up. Point of the story is: if you want to live, don’t try to take Americans hostage.

    Letting them go would have not only made us look like pussies, but set a precedent for future pirates. Why do you think other ships are continually hijacked?

  16. Bryan

    I’m getting a very bad “vibe” here…

    Where are the Libertarians/libertarians who support the second amendment? Who believe despite where you are…there is a right to self defense???

    Where are the Anarchists who feel there should be “private security”??? These boats, regardless of who is attacking, or what their motives are, have a right to defending themselves…even if it means hiring Blackwater or some other defense contractor to secure their assets.

    Does it really matter whether our (American government snipers) or privately contracted snipers take them out??? When it’s time to take out the garbage…it’s just got to go…

    These Samali “coast guard” people… are hi-jacking commercial shipping and reaping VERY large profits from their endeavors. If they get away with it…and are able to escape back to the people who protect them…fine… But…if our shipping begins to Fire Back…God help ‘em….Because it will be their will against ours…and we will prevail….

  17. paulie Post author

    For some reason, I’m doubting this wasn’t even close to entering the minds of those pirates.

    Probably because you have been hearing a lot of how they are characterized in the US press.

  18. derkel

    “Probably because you have been hearing a lot of how they are characterized in the US press.”

    I know how they are characterized is mostly garbage. I also understand this is one of the few profitable ventures they have in their lives.

    Does not mean I wouldn’t support killing them in a second for taking innocents hostage.

  19. Bryan

    The mariners on the ships who are hi-jacked don’t give a rats ass about fishing or nuclear waste…and don’t deserve to have their freedom (and possibly their lives) taken from them for any reason…and have every right to self defense….

    The cargo ships, in some cases taking “humanitarian aid” to these assholes, don’t have a dog in this fight…they are earning a living, and/or trying to do a good thing. If their freedom is compromised they or their proxies have the right to self defense.

    I’m not buying this liberal, bullshit for a second…America acted correctly Sunday, and the only problem I see is that the ships security didn’t “eliminate” the problem before it became a problem.

  20. paulie Post author

    The mariners on the ships who are hi-jacked don’t give a rats ass about fishing or nuclear waste

    How do you know that, praytell?

  21. derkel

    “Did you read the whole article?”

    Yes, I read the article and it was an extremely weak attempt to justify the kidnapping of innocent civilians.

  22. Bryan

    I just realized something…Paulie said in a comment…

    Me:Where are the Anarchists who feel there should be “private security”?

    Paulie:There is: the Somalians.

    Does this mean that the “lawlessness” we see in Samalia is what we can expect in an Anarchic America? I’m ready for it…but I can’t see it as a better alternative than what we have now….

    The Samalie “pirates” could use a good dose of… strength through superior firepower…And no…I voted against Reagan …twice….

  23. Bryan

    Paulie…you lettin’ your Green pacifist bull cloud your brain.

    NOBODY deserves to be held hostage. And if you are committing a criminal act…there is NO reaction that is too severe…

    Like I said: When it’s time to take out the garbage…it’s just got to go…

  24. Bryan

    Using the logic of this article…if I defend myself against a pick pocket, or a mugger, or home invader, anyone who would claim that I have injured him/her in some way, I would be at fault…their actions are protected…because of what they perceive to be legitimate wrongs. Even though I had never met these people…I would be wrong.

    I ain’t buying that argument…from you or the SF press…and I generally like that paper.

  25. Bryan

    The commercial shipping that is being hi-jacked, unless it is engaged in illegal dumping/fishing, is not the aggressor. They are innocent victims engaged in free trade.

    The pirates are targeting shipping to reap the “rewards” of ransom…holding innocent seamen and otherwise innocent boats hostage. That is aggression…

  26. Bryan

    There are 12 ships being held, some are oil tankers.

    The Alabama was a cargo ship delivering “humanitarian” aid.

    Who the F#(& engages in commercial fishing off a friggin oil tanker???

  27. paulie Post author

    @ LRC blog….

    Writes Phil Hensley:

    I wonder how the media would have reported this story had you or I taken a ship to another country, loaded up on a consumer good, and sailed back to the U.S. to sell our items to willing consumers. If we were captured, likely they would report that we had “been detained” by “coast guard authorities” and we will be “prosecuted” for violating the law. We would either have to pay a large fine (ransom) to the government for our freedom, and probably have our goods and ship permanently confiscated. Even if we made it back to the U.S., we would have to go to a government-approved port, pay customs fees on our items, and subject ourselves to searches in order to get our products into the country.

    At what point do “pirates” become “coast guard authorities”? Is it because we have institutionalized our piracy process to a large degree that we no longer consider these government parasites to be pirates? Do you think when the U.S. controlled the Panama Canal other countries and their ships considered our “defensive forces” to really be pirates that controlled the waterway?

  28. Bryan

    Paulie, your arguments in the past have held at least something that makes you think….

    On this one, you haven’t written anything that makes me doubt my position at all…

    All you have is a left leaning article.

  29. Bryan

    Paulie…this article at LRC…it doesn’t address whether the ship had the right of self defense in the first place….

    If “pirates” acting as a non-governmental gang, are taken out …. who is in the wrong?

    If government detains a vessel it may be equally in the wrong, but (at least in the US) the crew after being taken in, will not be threatened with instant death because their “owners” didn’t pay for their release.

  30. MJL

    The article certainly offers a lesson in pirate propaganda. Speaking from a past life as an international journalist, I would be interested in some verifiable proof relating to the dumping of nuclear waste. While I remain skeptical about the writer’s biased and agenda-driven assertions, it would absolutely be newsworthy if one could provide proof of a Western nation taking advantage of the anarchy in Somalia to commit an unfettered dumping of nuclear waste into the sea. That is with or without the pirate angle.

    On another note, it is interesting that there have not been more focus on the Article 1, Section 8 reference of the Constitution that authorizes Congress to define and punish matters of piracy and crimes on the high seas. Depending on the interpretation, Congress could authorize special tribunals, extra-judicial killings and outright attack in relation to pirates, while also declaring them terrorists in the traditional sense.

  31. sunshinebatman

    Exactly. Pirates vs pirates. It’s a joke. President-Elect Barry will invade Africa before he’s done.

  32. Bryan

    Well hell…

    In my defense of the crew of the hi-jacked ships and their right to self defense. In my support/intent of commercial shipping to actions of self defense…I forgot all about this one.

    I admit it…I am a Constiutionalist, Article one section eight does give the US to take action in this matter.

    I’m done…that answers the question for me…Good luck Somalia…your gonna need it.

  33. Trent Hill

    “Because it will be their will against ours…and we will prevail….”

    And as usual, England will prevail!

  34. Trent Hill

    “Where are the Anarchists who feel there should be “private security”??? These boats, regardless of who is attacking, or what their motives are, have a right to defending themselves…even if it means hiring Blackwater or some other defense contractor to secure their assets. ”

    Agree one hundred percent. This never would’ve happened if private security had been allowed to take place.

  35. Jim Davidson

    Way back in 2000, Michael van Notten and I met with a number of shipping insurance companies in various parts of Europe. We were proposing to include a patrol boat service as part of our plan to develop a free port on the Aden coast some tens of miles east of Zeila. Our thought was that the insurance companies would rather support a coast guard operation than pay ransoms to pirates. We were mistaken.

    The difficulties with the international law of the sea are many and varied. Among other things, it really sucks about arming merchant vessels and merchant crews. Evidently, having armed vessels and crews has worked in the past. Obviously, the various nation states that flag vessels have the authority to change these rules.

    Somalis do not regard their traditional culture as anarchy. All of the Somalis I know are offended by those who characterise their culture as anarchistic. Their traditional culture is a kritarchy. There is a republic in Somaliland (though there are numerous disputes about territory) and there is an Islamic government in the South. Puntland has yet another government and seeks to create a federal state.

    During my many visits to Somalia I never saw any dumping off the coast, nor any evidence along the coast of stuff washing ashore. I never saw any illegal fishing, though I was told that some lights in the distance one night were European fishing vessels in Somali waters fishing illegally – I couldn’t make out anything with my binoculars.

    I did hear frequent complaints from Somalis about dumping off their coast. I heard frequent complaints about illegal fishing. I also heard complaints after the tsunami that the international humanitarian community didn’t give a flying flip about hundreds of dead Somalis along the coast.

    All international aid to Africa is a scam. Most humanitarian aid, such as clothing donations, is either a scam or works to screw up the economy in African countries.

    Since 1991, Somalis have demanded that the international community leave them alone. They have refused to pay taxes to repay the debts the former dictator racked up from international banking gangsters (which money he used to torture, massacre, and oppress Somalis).

    As a result of being outside the system, Somalis have the best international telecommunications of any country in Africa with the lowest phone rates. They have adapted all kinds of methods for sending money from countries where the Somali diaspora have high paying jobs. They survived the evil Bush administration attack on the Barakat banking system by returning to their normal “fast money” transfers based on networks of trust.

    I don’t think the piracy issue is entirely free of pirates. However, Somalia is not the only part of the world where piracy is common. I do think that armed merchant vessels and armed crews would be a better approach than this idiotic centralisation of “defense” approach. A distributed threat should be handled by a distributed response.

    Africans will never be free until the borders drawn in Berlin in 1885 are abandoned by the international community, the African Union, the European Union, the NATO powers, the USA, and the UN. Given the desire of so many parties to rape Africa for its resources and have UN peacekeepers rape African children, I suspect that a happier century for Africa is still in the future. For some reason, the frequent scandals with the UN never seem to result in any meaningful reform. I agree with those who think the UN is a bad agency which should be abandoned, or eliminated.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    My short take: This is one I’d leave alone. Ultimately, I’m not convinced that the US should defend merchant ships at sea. I lean against that. Why should US taxpayers subsidize commerce?

    But, it’s my understanding that merchant ships CANNOT defend themselves.

    With that prohibition in place, we’re a bit at sea, pardon the pun. Being for peace in all things, perhaps we Ls should make THAT point, that the problem was mostly in this prohibition. But then we run into international laws, treaties, and so forth.

    So, I’d put this issue in the “wait for when the time is ripe” file. Tain’t now, near as I can tell.

  37. Brian Miller

    Ultimately, I’m not convinced that the US should defend merchant ships at sea. I lean against that. Why should US taxpayers subsidize commerce?

    Ding ding ding ding! We have a winner.

    Those who choose to traverse the open seas in pirate-infested waters have chosen to take an explicit business risk in exchange for the potential to profit. The US Navy and government should not be in the business of patrolling other countries’ waters (or “international” waters) for the benefit of private shipping companies — especially non-US companies like Maersk.

  38. Thomas L. Knapp

    Bob,

    How do you decide “when the time is ripe” on an issue?

    The media volume has been slowly cranked up on the issue of piracy for a couple of years now, and this last week it’s been on “10” leading into the US government’s demonstration of its policy and modus operandi.

    If your recommendations differ from that policy and modus operandi, it would seem that the time of “ripeness” for making them is, well, right now, while people are actually thinking about the issue.

  39. robert capozzi

    tk, yep, it’s a hot issue generally. In my judgment, arming merchant ships is not.

    The concepts of judgment and ripeness are subjective. I’d suggest we should accept judgment as inherent in politics.

  40. volvoice

    …..“Where are the Anarchists who feel there should be “private security”??? These boats, regardless of who is attacking, or what their motives are, have a right to defending themselves…even if it means hiring Blackwater or some other defense contractor to secure their assets. ”……

    Congress can issue letters of Marque and Reprisal and let the private shipping companies defend themselves. No need to get our whole military involved. I know most people want to go down there and throw them all in the gitmo, but we have to get over this whole thought process of believing that the military has to intervene in every little dustup around the world. Issue the letters and let Blackwater earn their money.

  41. Bryan

    I can’t explain why this issue has become so important to me, but it has.

    After posting my initial comment, and seeing some of the other comments, I “looked it up”, and indeed merchant ships are not allowed to arm themselves. This puts them at the mercy of a small band of street thugs and forces them to rely on Naval and other security for their protection.

    A couple of posts appear to be coming to these criminals defense. These criminals are taking private ships, holding the crew hostage and demanding a ransom at the threat of doing harm to both the ship and crew. Anyone who can defend these actions need to bump up their medications.

    Some are trying to sell the line that these pirates are the Somali “coast guard”, and are acting in their nations interest. If this is the case, and they are acting on orders from, or with the knowledge of their government, then Somalia committed an act of war on the US when they fired upon a US Navy vessel Saturday.

    I really see only 3 ways to resolve this issue, and I would appreciate others that I haven’t thought of.

    The first, and my preference, would be to amend international law/treaties allowing merchant ships to arm themselves, and allowing private security to operate in international waters. (Some have said that taxpayers shouldn’t pay for security of these commercial vessels. I totally agree). On this same track, I wouldn’t be opposed to making it fully private with security also providing hostage rescue teams. A side benefit to this (apart from the companies paying for their own security) is that when pirates see their “comrades” floating in the water…it will be a deterrent.

    The second option is apparently the one being (not surprisingly) taken by the US. As noted in a prior comment Article I, section 8 does make reference to these powers. The two reasons I am not crazy about them are: The stigma which will be attached to the US for blowing up pirate boats and sending them to meet jolly roger: and my tax dollars (possibly) going to protect a Brazilian ship, with a Korean crew, flying an English flag.

    The third option…do nothing…This is not an option in my opinion. I believe in the right of self-defense, especially in these circumstances, and barring this, the Constitution does grant Congress these powers.

    What would you do?

    Sorry for the long comment.

  42. Thomas L. Knapp

    The anarchist analysis of this is simple: Since states shouldn’t exist, states should possess neither the prerogative of requiring merchant ships to go unarmed nor the responsibility to protect merchant ships from piracy.

    Since numerous states do exist, are going to continue to exist for the foreseeable future, and have an interest in not having commerce impeded by piracy, it seems that there should be some kind of rational policy, though.

    A good start would be an international treaty:

    1) Recognizing the right of ship operators to arm their vessels/crews and requiring signatory nations to at a minimum allow otherwise legitimate armed merchant vessels into their waters/ports with the weaponry cased — small arms secured in an armory with the exception of the armory guard and the firing mechanisms of crew-served weapons inspected/locked/disabled by a port official upon entry, for example.

    2) Requiring the naval vessels of signatory powers to act as deputized (to the Hague / International Criminal Court, perhaps?) responders to distress calls from instant victims of piracy.

    Of course, such a treaty would probably have to deal with instance of government piracy, which would probably break down negotiations (I recall at least one incident, in 1990 I think, when the US Navy went pirate).

  43. robert capozzi

    tk, sounds good to me. My suspicion is this issue is a blip long forgotten in a year.

  44. paulie Post author

    Piracy in the area doesn’t seem to be going away, any more than it is in the South China Sea, so it won’t necessarily be forgotten.

  45. Michael Seebeck

    Being allowed to arm themselves is the first step. In the absence of that, the military escort is the alternative.

    However, it’s quite simpler than all of that. The first and only duty of government is to safeguard the lives and property of its citizens by enforcing their rights to both, and to defend themselves against aggression. While there is great discussion about how that applies inside the sovereign borders and waters and airspace of another nation, in the no-man’s land of international airspace or waters, it seems pretty simple: we have the right to defend ourselves.

    If that means a SEAL sniper head-shots a pirate in international waters that has an AK-47 trained on the back of an unarmed US citizen, then lock and load.

    The bigger question of why the pirates exist in the first place is a different and more complex issue. That comes back to the recognition of governments and their forces in the international community. In general, the forces of a recognized nation-state are not considered pirates to the ones doing the recognizing, and those forces shooting at ours would be considered an act of war. Pirates, OTOH, acting without that recognized sanction, are considered just special criminals–just like terrorists. Historically, some pirates in the 1700s had military commissions from other nations to give them a look of respectability in international eyes (privateering), but other nations refused to recognize the commissions, so they were considered pirates. Most famously for Americans, John Paul Jones as far as the British were concerned, even when under French, Dutch, and Russian flags. Others included most of the famous pirates of the time: Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, etc.

    One man’s privateer is another man’s pirate, and neither are usually considered naval flag.

  46. robert capozzi

    pc, clarifying,piracy wasn’t a headline issue a month ago, and I suspect it fades quickly as an issue…no legs. Nor do I find the L take especially attractive to Ma and Pa Kettle. We’ve got MUCH bigger fish to fry, more meaningful and potentially popular ones.

    Frankly, if the US Navy takes out a pirate every 5 years or so AND we bring the troops home from the 4 corners, I’ll take that trade ALL DAY LONG.

  47. Bryan

    TK…#1 was my thinking, allowing for self-defense, without going into specifics, but I don’t see why something couldn’t be worked out.

    After all, in WWII merchant ships were armed (sometimes better equipped than the escorts sent to protect them.) and because there can be enforced “rules” regarding port activity, I don’t see why it couldn’t happen again.

    What I could find for #2 shows that something similar to that exists now. If distress signals, including security breaches, are sent the closest “big N” Naval vessel is supposed to respond. It wouldn’t be a big stretch to allow other actions by these vessels.

    I still like the self defense option better.

    As to Robert, I too feel that piracy will be a blip on the radar, but only if it is shut down first. Right now these guys have a growth industry. With almost no investment, and what up to now has been little risk, they are able to reap million$. Once they have a lot more risk involved in their “enterprise”…they will cut down or stop.

  48. pdsa

    Bryan , problems with arming merchant vessels presently include the need to train all seaman militarily, and provisioning the vessels with armament capable of repelling the attacks. this would assuredly result in an arms escalation by the pirates who presently use mostly AK-47s and RPGs in their attacks, sometimes backed-up with small calibre ship mounted automatic weapons. There’s one hell of a lot of light-weaponry for on the black-market presently, including shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons. I’m certainly no expert as to the armor rating of typical merchant vessel hulls, but do not think I’d want to learn about it first-hand onboard a ship that was getting its hull targeted by anti-tank weapons.

    The owners of these ship, presently prefer paying the front-end vigorish to Lloyd’s of London, since very few of the vessels or crew have been harmed in the acts of piracy. Insurance underwriting costs increase tremendously if the pirates change their rules of engagement. U.S and French</a. flagged ships may have just been priced out of competitiveness sailing in those waters.

  49. Bryan

    It seems your opinion is that we should take no action. I can only see the result of this as either an escalation of these incidents, or in the long term, unwillingness of insurers to cover these ships or making rates prohibitively high, either of which could endanger the crews, to hell with the ships.

    The other side of this is that sooner or later, crews will react, with or without the consent of “management”, resulting in the same scenario you described above anyway.

    I can only speak for my self…if I can see it…I can kill it…these sailors deserve to be allowed to defend themselves regardless of the ultimate consequences. And if the result of their actions is an escalation on the part of the street thugs…I do believe in strength through superior firepower…Whether it be the Navy or Blackwater, it’s time to take out the trash.

  50. Steven R Linnabary

    I’m certainly no expert as to the armor rating of typical merchant vessel hulls, but do not think I’d want to learn about it first-hand onboard a ship that was getting its hull targeted by anti-tank weapons.

    Somlailand alone has 73 of these puppies:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a6/Somaliland_BM21.JPG

    Of course, there are many other weapons available, too.

    these sailors deserve to be allowed to defend themselves regardless of the ultimate consequences.

    Not one sailor has been harmed by any faction in the Somali area. This cannot be said of the pirates of the South China Sea and the area around Indonesia, who are basically just criminals.

    The so-called “pirates” of Somalia refer to themselves as the Volunteer Coast Guard. They have never harmed any person, nor their cargoes.

    PEACE

  51. Jim Davidson

    “If this is the case, and they are acting on orders from, or with the knowledge of their government, then Somalia committed an act of war on the US when they fired upon a US Navy vessel Saturday.”

    There is no national government of Somalia.

  52. Bryan

    Joseph…

    These guys aren’t holding a ship with the desire to have an investigation into dumping…

    They aren’t attacking fishing vessels…

    They are attacking ships for the purpose of getting MONEY…

    As far as I am concerned this makes them street thugs.

  53. Steven R Linnabary

    These guys aren’t holding a ship with the desire to have an investigation into dumping…They are attacking ships for the purpose of getting MONEY…

    They probably know that an investigation is unlikely. They are more accurately seeking reparations.

    They aren’t attacking fishing vessels…

    You should watch or read the news more often. Several trawlers are currently being held, including one taken into port during the “Alabama” standoff.

    And nobody is being “attacked”, anymore than when you are “attacked” when a cop pulls you over.

    PEACE

  54. Bryan

    Steve: The so-called “pirates” of Somalia refer to themselves as the Volunteer Coast Guard. They have never harmed any person, nor their cargoes.

    It’s just luck they didn’t take somebody out yesterday. In a failed attempt to take a ship they shot up the bridge, and it was reported they used at least one RPG.

    As far as escalation is concerned, common criminals vs. the war machines of several countries….The criminal gets stepped on…hard.

    Private security vs. common criminals, the private security would be better trained and better armed than the criminals…shark fishing will go through the roof due to the chum in the water.

    I know some of you are seeing me as some right-wing nut…I’m not.

    Should we be in Iraq? No…Afghanistan? No…

    Our military is there for the protection of our country, citizens, and their property. I don’t see why anyone would feel that without military protection, that these merchant ships should not be allowed to protect themselves. And without allowing this self-protection, then I would have to refer back to the Constitution, which does speak to this topic.

  55. Jim Hayes

    This is in responce to Trent Hill, obviouslly Trent you have nerver been where you had to pick between you or the other guy being dead.
    Bottom line these individuals are hide behind the known fact that our merchant ships are unarmed. They are well aware that what they are doing is against the law, they got what they deserved. If I rob a bank and take hostages and tell the FBI if you grant me amnesty I will release the hostages, do you really think the FBI is going to let me go? “HELL NO!!!!” In the region in question it is they have no value on human life, it is basically “Kill or be Killed”. Sometime the only way these individuals understand is showing them that you are not afraid to kill to protect yourself. I don’t know about you but being alive sounds better than being dead. I say go Seals and do more snipping on the Priates “One Shot One Kill”.

  56. Steven R Linnabary

    Our military is there for the protection of our country, citizens, and their property.

    Except that the “Alabama” is a Danish owned vessel, under US flag.

    I don’t see why anyone would feel that without military protection, that these merchant ships should not be allowed to protect themselves.

    Most ports will not allow a ship into port if it is carrying ANY firearms. Even military ships making a port call will customarily have most of the crew on deck to show that guns are not manned.

    And without allowing this self-protection, then I would have to refer back to the Constitution, which does speak to this topic.

    Again, the US Constitution gives authority to Congress under Article 1, Section 8 to define and punish matters of piracy and crimes on the high seas.

    If we allow our President to thumb his nose at the US Constitution (again), where does it stop?

    And no, Bryan, I DON’T think you are any kind of nut. But much of the media is part of a hysteria trying to prove they can be as callous and cold blooded as any seething right winger. Which is why I doubt any RPG was fired. When war hysteria heats up, the truth gets harder to find.

    PEACE

  57. Libertarian Joseph

    Most statists just want to murder somalis because they can’t stand when other people have freedom. Maybe an envy thing. They hide behind their religion and pretend to be “moral” while they advocate murdering innocent people just because they’re trying to achieve freedom in their lives. It’s sickening

  58. Libertarian Joseph

    A case CAN be made that Somali pirates are commiting crimes. But the major concern of mine is statism. Statism is a crime in itself, how can we advocate a monopoly over the use of force [mafia] to go after suspected criminals, not to mention that they have no jurisdiction off the coast of Somalia, but that’s another matter. That wouldn’t make any sense. Once you get rid of the STATE then all crimes will be localized and dealt with at that level. Not by armchair dictators wanting their own mafia to “do something about it.”

  59. HS

    “Once you get rid of the STATE then all crimes will be localized and dealt with at that level. Not by armchair dictators wanting their own mafia to “do something about it.”

    Isn’t Somalia basically a land with no state? In my mind that just leads to a feudal sort of system, as well as pirate towns.

    The concept is interestingin regard to localization without an overarching state, but I just see realty setting in where local strongmen take advantage of the lack of complete oversight to be even more oppressive or at least constricting to meet their own needs than what is perceived now.

    I don’t pretend to be educated on libertarian ideology, but I see less government as a good thing, but no government as leading to a scary place rather than a just society

  60. Steven R Linnabary

    Isn’t Somalia basically a land with no state?

    No, this is part of US media misinformation.

    The northwest part is now Somaliland, and wants total independence. The northeast is Puntland, and is autonomous, but wishes to be part of a Somali federation. The central area is more or less controlled by the “Transitional Federation Government”, backed with Ethiopian troops. The south is controlled by the “Islamic Courts Union”. The TFG and the ICU both claim ALL of the old Somalia. Nearly all the fighting of recent years has been between the TFG and the ICU.

    FWIW, a reunited Somalia is unlikely as it would require heavy taxation to pay back exorbitant loans taken out by previous puppet regimes.

    PEACE

  61. Libertarian Joseph

    #81: “The central area is more or less controlled by the “Transitional Federation Government”, backed with Ethiopian troops.”

    umm I believe the Ethiopian troops left.

  62. HS

    Thanks for the insight, Steven… I just can’t get past what I see as the reality of what would really happen if this happened: “Once you get rid of the STATE then all crimes will be localized and dealt with at that level. Not by armchair dictators wanting their own mafia to “do something about it.”

    Who defines “crimes?” Is it based on the 10 Commandments? Or general principles? And what happens when people disagree on what is and is not a crime? Factions will develop and natural leaders will take charge meaning that the meek may take over the earth, but a local strongman will take his cut. And then even those that can do it right will be threatened by outside forces.

    Again, I am sure Cato has entire books on why my opinion is wrong.

  63. Steven R Linnabary

    LJ, that is very likely. Ethiopians are hated in that part of Somalia, and always have been. Hated enough to drive folks into the competing ICU. The Ethiopians were probably bribed by the Bush administration to invade.

    OTOH, the only country to give quasi recognition to Somaliland has been Ethiopia. Ethiopia has no ports, Somaliland does.

    FWIW dept.: Of the four ships taken yesterday, two are Egyptian trawlers. So much for the folks that continue to claim that fishing vessels aren’t being taken.

    http://allafrica.com/stories/200904140959.html

    PEACE

  64. Libertarian Joseph

    #83

    Easy. Volations of the NAP. Libertarian stuff. Live and let live. There’s a number of ways that the free market can deal with property rights violations. The free market is self-regulating, check out http://www.theesa.com/ it’s an organization comprised of game developers that fight piracy of their video game software. No government involvement there ;)

  65. Libertarian Joseph

    the proble oftentimes after a state collapses is that it always happens in a country whose people know no liberty. They continue on with their statist leanings and rely on their clans and irrational culture. Results, imo, would be much better in the US. The clans over in Somalia are the last bastions of the old state. People don’t really need them, it’s just a primitive way of dealing with the issue of security, the monopoly over force.

  66. Libertarian Joseph

    states never think about innovation. only msaybe on new ways to take people’s money or to expand. security firms would be both innovative and libertarian. they exist inside of Somalia, they’re used by factories, bottling plans, telecomm locations, etc

  67. Libertarian Joseph

    imo the primitive things in this world are:

    governments/clans – the monopoly over force in these areas. the free market can provide these things, people can carry guns, government ends up going tyrannical after awhile

    irrational culture – religion, for example. but I know there are many religious libertarians, so I won’t go there lol

  68. HS

    LJ,

    Thanks for the interesting perspective without biting my head off :)

    Still not sold on what I imagine to be a huge leap of faith in the human condition, but myself and others in our little political movement also have not been at this for as long as most of the people here. So in other words, we are new to such things.

  69. Libertarian Joseph

    The ayn rand / objectivism approach, while I don’t agree with that philosophy totally, would be very nice IF the government would just stay out of the economy. but does that ever happen? no. NEVER. so why even support a minarchy? Just call it evil and never advocate it even implicitly.

    you need to get away from the trappings of the state and think about free market / entrepreneurial solutions to everyday problems.

  70. Bryan

    His Constitutionalism is based on Article I section 8.

    But as I have said earlier, and he adds as his last point, our merchant ships have the right to self-defense, and we should make/demand changes that will allow this…

    Our Constitution granted congress powers : To define and punish Piracies and Felonies on the high seas, and Offenses against the Laws of Nations.

    Until anarchists (with or without the various prefixes and suffixes) can amend or abolish the Constitution…it is the document that sets the “tone” for the laws and actions of our Country. A document that I think outlines the best governmental system ever devised.

    But I still don’t understand why anarchists (and their variations) are opposed to allowing merchant vessels to their RIGHT of self defense…

  71. mdh

    There is no such thing as an anarchist who is opposed to allowing merchant vessels to defend themselves. To disallow that would require an authority capable of legitimately doing so. The only authority with that capability would have to be a government. Since anarchists, by definition, advocate a society in which there is no government, it is thereby impossible for an anarchist to also advocate that such vessels should be in any manner disallowed from defending themselves.

    Anyone who claims to be an anarchist but advocates the existence of a government (and one taking regulatory enforcement actions, no less, as is the case we’re discussing here) is not an anarchist at all. No more so than a Christian who does not believe in God or Christ and disavows the bible is a Christian at all. That’s not to say that such people don’t exist. They do. I’m one. But I don’t go around calling myself a Christian anyways.

  72. Bryan

    IF you consider yourself an anarcho-capitalist, minarchist, anarchist, etc…etc… you see to be one of the few who sees it this way.

    If you check out the comments on this topic, some are claiming that the “volunteer coast guard” have a perfectly legitimate right to commit the criminal actions they are engaged in.

    I’m not buying it…

    Under the “rules” we currently live under, (including various treaties, and agreements) merchant vessels are prohibited (unless acting independently, placing themselves at the mercy of foreign government weapons law) from arming themselves. This means that, unless we just leave them in a lawless area…unarmed…that the US and other countries must defend these vessels.

    Therefore, Barr’s opinion is right as far as I am concerned. But again…and almost everyone seems to see this as a bad thing…Merchant ships should be allowed to defend themselves, largely ending the need for military intervention.

  73. paulie Post author

    IF you consider yourself an anarcho-capitalist, minarchist, anarchist,

    Anarchist, in my case.

    If you check out the comments on this topic, some are claiming that the “volunteer coast guard” have a perfectly legitimate right to commit the criminal actions they are engaged in.

    Yes, except they are not criminal actions.

    Criminals, like the boats that are dumping nuclear waste off the Somali coast, do have the right to arm themselves for protection.

    However, they have no right to engage in aggression.

    Regardless of who you or I think are the bad guys, I think we both agree that all of them should have the right to be armed; we only disagree about who the bad guys are.

  74. Bryan

    Damn…and after I re-read this whole friggin topic….

    This is where the Constitutionalist/Libertarian…Me…
    and the Anarchist…You…can agree. We disagree over who the “bad guys are”…so be it.

    But until such time that merchant shipping is allowed adequate defense…I lean toward a continued Naval (military) presence. (I know you probably won’t agree, but somebody has to defend unarmed people…)

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