Find the Three Somali Pirates Hiding in this Crowd:
This is what happens when a blogger has a graphics budget of $0, painful isn’t it? In any event, I think it’s a good sign that I am trying to have fun with the topic. The topic of course is pirates, Somalian pirates to be specific. There are four points I wanted to make about them, in the hopes that someone will refute me, or at least call me names.
Moving right along, the first point is that the people living in Somalia … are people. Most of them are basically decent folks getting by under circumstances that would make most westerners curl up and die. They are normal human beings who love their families, friends, and homeland. Just like Americans. There may be some bad things going on in Somalia, but it’s not because the Somalians are bad people. I’m not spewing “why can’t we all get along,” I’m just saying that most people are just that, people.
Secondly, and maybe too obviously, how does one identify a Somalian pirate? They aren’t walking around in funny hats with parrots on their shoulders. They don’t live in fortified pirate hideouts flying the Jolly Roger flag. In other words, the idea that we should “take out” the pirate bases or otherwise bomb or invade our way out of this problem are absurd. Not to mention there’s no infrastructure, Somalian government, or anything else to bomb in Somalia. The more dispersed an enemy is, the less use conventional military power is against them. And the Somali pirates are as about as dispersed as it gets.
Thirdly (see, this isn’t a completely random post) please read this article for some background and context to the pirate mess in Somalia. I don’t agree with all of it, but the history of Somalia and especially the history of US relations with Somalia is important for understanding the piracy and why the Somalians aren’t particularly thrilled with the west.
Lastly, the one part I disagree with. And a point where I’ve changed my thinking. I know I’ve said before, and even implied above, that there is no military solution to this problem. That’s not entirely true. While there is no way to solve this problem by invading or bombing Somalia, there is a way the Navy could effectively deal with this problem. We could deploy a Carrier Strike Group in the region to escort shipping and hunt pirates. That much air power could effectively patrol a vast area. And if pirates knew that Navy Seals were going to be showing up every time within hours (or less) of a pirate attack, it would most definitely act as a deterrent.
We have eleven carrier strike groups, why haven’t we simply deployed one to shut down the pirates and make the sea lanes off Somalia safe for international shipping? It’s a good question and one I don’t really have an answer for. I mean, these carrier groups are incredibly expensive to maintain no matter where they are, why not have one actually doing something useful? Beats me, but I have some ideas.
Possibly the expense, but the USA has launched far more expensive operations with far less by way of clear objectives, so that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The Bush administration and the Navy tried very hard to get the pirates classified as “terrorists” so fighting them could be included in the GWOT. And President Obama certainly picked up that torch and has done his best to portray the Somali pirates as some sort of threat to the world. So money and a stated desire to fight pirates doesn’t seem to be an issue, what gives?
Granted it would give critics of military spending new ammunition, but for all practical purposes the military has gotten everything it wanted for decades plus some, it’s hard to imagine one more example of wasteful spending being a serious issue. At least the pirates are real, unlike so may of the basically fantasy threats we spend pallets of money preparing to defend against. Maybe the pirates would simply hide and leave us stuck with a deployed carrier group, but I would think yet another excuse to keep our military deployed overseas would be welcome.
No, I suspect it may be something more subtle. A combination of two things actually. For one thing, maybe it wouldn’t really work. In commercials and Hollywood movies the Navy has all sorts of capabilities, but finding small boats filled with armed teenagers in a vast ocean is a tricky business. We would look pretty silly if the pirates managed to pull off even a few spectacular heists under our noses. Or worse, if the pirates or some other group managed to actually attack a carrier, it would give incredible street cred to those who advocate taking up arms against the USA.
I mean, while the USA claims it wants to kick butt and take names over the entire planet, we don’t really want fight the entire planet, do we? The people in Washington must know that would be a bad idea, right? Dear God I hope so.
On Friday, back to the ten biggest blunders made by the Allies during World War Two. And maybe my new theory on cat liquidity and temperature. Stay cool everyone.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Plus it’s been modified by the author of this blog. Yes, those green things are parrots. I know, don’t give up my day job.)