Saturday, April 11, 2009

Little Miss Attila got me with "Sea Citizens"

by Smitty (hat tip: LMA)

She's pointing to this a delightful bit of absurdity about the State Department re-classifying "pirates" as "sea citizens". About the only thing TFA got wrong was the spelling of "Meredeth", whose last "e" should be an "i", if Google has the right of things.
As the Google Reader would have it, Information Dissemination, a reputable squid blog, was the next article in the queue. Here is an un-rosy summary of the situation:
Terrorism in Somalia has long driven Navy operations off that coast. On one side, we have a high visibility piracy problem that does not threaten the interests of the United States directly, at all, and our only current national interest regarding the piracy issue is one man with 4 guys in an orange boat 200 yards off the bow of the USS Bainbridge (DDG 96). There is a national economic interest, but the impact to date has not risen to a level that has created a serious concern among global leaders to the point they are willing to commit serious resources toward solving the problem.
On the other side of the Somalia problem, we have the terror problem no one else in the world is interested in doing anything about. And in the middle is the reality that while both the pirates and terrorists are operating in the same black market space, the pirates and terror groups don't like each other.
Then there is another problem. What if we support a government strong enough to remove piracy, but too weak to do anything about the terrorism cells? Piracy is what has the international community involved in the problems of Somalia right now, if that goes away, we are left with the bigger threat to our national interests and no one internationally to help.
Somalia is much to complicated for the comparisons some are making to Pakistan and Iraq. At least in those places, we know who we want to work with. The government of Somalia doesn't even have governing control over the regions involved in piracy, and the areas the government does control are where the terror groups have sanctuary.
I got creamed last year in the comments by my readers for suggesting the pirates could possibly be the most desirable group to work with in Somalia, but we should not quickly dismiss that possibility. I'd rather work with a capitalist criminal whose motivation is money than a religious terrorist who is more interested in ideology, but that is just me.
The Somalia issue will very often come down to making the least bad choice among a list of really bad options available.

I don't care who won the election: this promises to be long and messy.


  1. Take over the Somali area radio and marine frequencies and broadcast non-stop for a week a warning that henceforth any vessel approaching within 1/2 mile of another ship at sea is subject to being sunk upon sight without warning. Then allow merchant ships to carry armed crew members.

    A few sinkings would likely erode the recruiting opportunities for future pirates.

  2. Okay--but you did get that the "Sea Citizens" quote came from a parody site. Right?

    Not that one can necessarily keep track with this administration . . .