Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Piracy on the open seas

Now let me see if I have this right. If pirates choose to take over ships in international waters, kidnapping crews, and holding the ships and their crews for ransom, and then the offended country retaliates by killing the pirates and recovering their ships and crews, the pirates and their host nations could get upset. Is that what I am supposed to get from the word coming out of Somalia today? I am further led to believe that the pirates could get so upset that they may get even bolder in the future. Is that supposed to frighten me?

First of all I just would like to congratulate the Navy and their sharpshooters for the amazing work done on Easter saving the Captain of the hijacked ship. I would like further offer to that Captain my personal appreciation for his courageous and selfless action in saving his crew by allowing himself to be taken hostage by the pirates. His actions represent the highest level of service and honor. The news has reported that three of the pirates were shot dead and one pirate was arrested and faces life in an American prison. Well done.

Today the news is full of worries that now, because of our actions, the piracy on the open seas will no doubt be ratcheted up with even more ships being taken and even more crewmen in danger. It would appear that certain individuals and countries think it is much better just to pay ridiculous ransoms and look the other way. After all these are poor people from poor countries. Their main source of income is from ransom money. I guess that is just supposed to be our penalty for being prosperous. Incidentally, the ship from this latest hijacking attempt was headed for Kenya with nothing on board but free aid and supplies to the starving people of Kenya. That doesn’t seem to matter to the detractors.

As you might imagine, I have a few thoughts on this subject. Most importantly the idea that any port that now harbors pirates and still exists is repulsive to me. People only respond to two emotions; fear and reward. The problem here is clear. They don’t fear retaliation for a simple reason. There hasn’t been any. In their criminal minds, they see this activity as a never ending cash cow. The time is long past when they need to learn the consequences of their actions and I don’t mean cashing big checks. They need to see what happens when the sleeping giant is awakened and decides to punish the offenders. When the survivors look out over the wasteland that used to be their country and see the devastation our strike would cause, I think they would see the error of their ways.

The western world does a tremendous disservice to the rest of the world by not showing clearly and completely what happens when they are offended. The pirates probably think “Hey this is a great gig. Just send a small rowboat out into International Waters and fire a few rounds of ammunition at some huge container ship and just like that, the money comes rolling in.” What do you suppose would be the reaction of would-be pirates if instead of money rolling in there was a barrage of cannon fire and their little boat was blown out of the water and the pirates suddenly became shark food?

You know, this world is really a lot simpler than most would believe. Laws, whether they are an individual country’s or whether they are international, are only as good as their enforcement. If we reward rather than punish, we send the wrong message. What else would the pirates think?

Unless we are willing to protect our ships on the open seas, we have absolutely no right to cry and complain when some moron decides to take them away from us.

Trust me, if the coast line of Somalia were reduced to a huge mud puddle, piracy would cease. If another country decided to take up the practice, it would only take one strike to convince them to get into another line of work.

Countries and their governments have the responsibility of insuring the safety of the high seas. This needs to happen today.

Ron Scarbro April 13, 2009


Anonymous said...

Israel has displayed the correct approach for years. Retaliate with force with terrorists. If you're dead, you can't collect or spend the ransom.

Bo Lumpkin said...

I realize that the U.S is not a police force for the whole world but when it begins to have an effect on our ships and our citizens then instead of a police force we should become a force to be reckoned with. I too am tired of giving in to the cowardly acts of pirates and terrorists. You are right on as usual.