Slow Posting

I got up early today and had an eye exam (still have two functional ones). They were dilated in the process, so it will be a while before I spend much time on the computer. Meanwhile, here’s an interesting discussion on arming ships against pirates in modern times. We seem to have managed to deal with this a lot better in the past. I think that we should bring back letters of marque, for not just pirates, but lawless terrorists in general.

[Early afternoon update]

A related question: why don’t we hang pirates any more?

…the number of attacks keeps rising.

Why? The view of senior U.S. military officials seems to be, in effect, that there is no controlling legal authority. Title 18, Chapter 81 of the United States Code establishes a sentence of life in prison for foreigners captured in the act of piracy. But, crucially, the law is only enforceable against pirates who attack U.S.-flagged vessels, of which today there are few.

What about international law? Article 110 of the U.N.’s Law of the Sea Convention — ratified by most nations, but not by the U.S. — enjoins naval ships from simply firing on suspected pirates. Instead, they are required first to send over a boarding party to inquire of the pirates whether they are, in fact, pirates. A recent U.N. Security Council resolution allows foreign navies to pursue pirates into Somali waters — provided Somalia’s tottering government agrees — but the resolution expires next week. As for the idea of laying waste, Stephen Decatur-like, to the pirate’s prospering capital port city of Eyl, this too would require U.N. authorization. Yesterday, a shippers’ organization asked NATO to blockade the Somali coast. NATO promptly declined.

As I noted, there seems to be a problem with the modern approach.

6 thoughts on “Slow Posting”

  1. What are you thinking, Rand? We have to negotiate with the pirates, try to understand their rage, and help them. . .well, you know the PC drill.

    Pardon me while I go wash my mouth out. Yecch.

    Where are the politicians with spines, anymore? This sort of thing used to be seen for what it really is, and taken care of very quickly and permanently.

    I’m not looking forward to watching months of “negotiations” with murderers.

  2. How about offering a package deal to shippers, including re-flagging to the US and carrying a PMC fire team for just the dangerous part of the transit?

  3. Reason #75187532 why the UN has failed.

    This is exactly the reason the UN was created in the first place. To prevent unchecked international and trans-national violence and aggression. The UN has, once again, proven impotent in that regard.

  4. International waters, for that matter any sea off a national coast, is the original gun free zone. That is, innocent people can’t have them, only bad guys and good guys. Neutrals must be unarmed. Armed ships that are not part of a national military are considered pirates, regardless of their actual activity. Hired mercenaries doesn’t change that concept in terms of “laws of the sea”.

    The fact is high seas piracy is the excellent example of how gun control fails. Particularly, when governments decide to unarm themselves in the effort to be “more free” and to prosecute everything as typical criminal activity. To remain within International laws, merchant vessels must be armed with less than lethal weaponry. Some use “Sonic Blasters”, which are fairly effective, if you see the enemy coming and there is only one vessel. Otherwise, it isn’t a great response to a RPG or AK-47.

  5. “But, crucially, the law is only enforceable against pirates who attack U.S.-flagged vessels, of which today there are few.”

    The flagging seems to be a critical issue. Shippers don’t like to flag as a US vessel because it is expensive (for a variety of reasons). In theory, one of the things that pays for though is some protection by the most powerful navy in the world. When running under a “flag of convenience” to avoid these costs, the shipper is essentially make a business decision to run without one form of insurance. Piracy is a bad thing which should be fought, but there is a serious question of how proactive the USN can (or should) be for foreign flagged vessels.

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