Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fail Boat

Let me get this straight: You're a lowlife piece of crap armed only with an AK-47 and an IQ of 48, you grabbed an American ship captain at sea and tried to hold him for ransom, and purposely got into a standoff with the U.S. Navy.

No really, how the hell did you think this was gonna end?

America, fuck yeah.

AP: Ship Captain Rescued, 3 Somali Pirates Killed/4.12.09


lakelady said...

I came across this article this morning which put the whole pirating situation off Somalia in a totally different perspective

Elessa said...

I loved this from the article

"The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates," said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans.

Two other Somalis, one involved in the negotiations and another in contact with the pirates, also said the talks collapsed because of the U.S. insistence that the pirates be arrested and brought to justice.

Rather than surrendering the pirates to the US, they consigned them to death. Brilliant negotiating tactics. Truly brilliant.

sleepygaby said...

Hi, Chez.
Lakelady kind of beat me to the punch, but I would also humbly ask that you consider the information and arguments contained in this article:
I'm not saying I condone piracy, kidnapping or violence> Of course I don't. But much like any number of the "horrors" we witness taking place in sub-Saharan Africa, (the Rwandan genocide being the biggest, saddest example), the behavior of various Western colonizers or industrials has certainly played a huge role in the birth of certain phenomena.
Just food for thought.

Chez said...

I really have an issue with articles that ask me to lend a sympathetic ear to people who are basically thugs -- and make no mistake, that's exactly what the guys who snagged this captain were. Somalia's a disaster, no doubt -- but what's contributed heavily to it becoming such a disaster are the power-crazed gangsters among its own people, the ones who for the most part don't care about the country or its people.

This is not to imply that American or European business interests care about Somalia; of course they don't. But I wasn't really commenting on that anyway; I was just pointing out how, shall we say, this "plan" that the pirates (and I hate that word specifically because it does imbue their actions with undeserved nobility) hatched wasn't thought through very well.

"Okay, Ali -- so here's what we're gonna do. Get that really crappy boat your brother-in-law isn't using, grab a couple of AKs and a few other guys and we'll jack this cargo ship out at sea and hold the captain hostage until the Americans give us a whole bunch of money."

"What about the U.S. Navy and all those warships and firepower, and those highly trained strike teams, they've got?"

"What can they do? We'll worry about that later. Don't sweat it, man. We're gonna be RICH!"

sleepygaby said...

I do understand your not wanting to sympathize with the actions of thugs, and I obviously respect that position. However, the link I included doesn't so much sympathize or condone thuggery, but offers an sociologically objective perspective on how and why people come to choose a life of piracy - which peaked in the 17th Century but still occures all over the world today, though more problematically so in Africa. It doesn't "nobilify" pirates, but it does dismantle the stereotypes we all associate with pirates, from the peg-legged aarrg! yeller with the parrot on his shoulder to bands of muslim Somalians armed with AK47s many liken to radical islamist terrorists.
I personally believe that last stereotype is too much of a stretch. Many of these guys were among the original "pirates" who essentially formed a vigilante coast guard of sorts after they noticed mysterious European and Asian ships coming to dump toxic waste off of their shorelines, and illegally fishing in the clean(er) Somalian waters. (300 Somalis died almost instantly when the tsunami waves hit the coastal villages; that's how bad the water had gotten.) The newer guys have less of an excuse, but it's still one of the only lucrative options available in a country with over ten years of zero government, no infrastructure, etc, etc.
And it is lucrative; the pirate band-leaders make between 30 and 50 million a year. Though we don't have exact figures, a significant portion of this money is believed to go back to the communities that once depended on the now-unfishable waters.
But the thing that kills me is this: to this day, ships passing through Somalian water DON'T EVEN SPEED UP. Why? Because a) the overwhelming likelihood is that they won't get accosted by the pirates - there aren't that many, and b) the ransom they ask for is pocket change compared to what the cargo is worth, and most of these ships are insured anyway, since piracy has never ceased to exist. By and large, it IS an easy racket, with not that much collateral dammage, and usually no casualties.
Again, you're absoltely right in calling them thugs. But I have heard people liken them to islamist terrorists, and I really do feel that it's important to distinguish apples from oranges. They're not doing this for Allah, or to finance a genocide back on mainland. They're taxing the ships that would have been taxed - not to mention sued - had there been a Somalian government in place to keep watch over Somalian waters and enforce the law since at least 1995.
Again, at the end of the day, it's thuggery. But there's a part of me that isn't surprised - at all - that the people in that part of the world wound up resorting to piracy...
Thanks for hearing me out,

Chez said...

Oh no, they're certainly not terrorists. They're capitalists. In some ways, that's what makes them much easier to deal with: You know exactly what they want (and it isn't to die as a martyr for Allah).

As for funneling money back to the "community," you mean like Mohammed Farah Aidid? Cause there was a real humanitarian who was only interested in the good of his countrymen -- and I'm kind of getting that same vibe from the pirates now raiding ships off the coast of Somalia.

I understand that Somalia is a mess, and that many people have had to resort to tactics to stay alive that they otherwise wouldn't have (but also that many others are profiteering, turning the lack of a governing body into their own personal cash machine and power grab, as is wont to happen far too often in modern Africa). But there's something about the "identify with the criminals and understand their societal pressures" mentality that rubs me the wrong way and perpetuates the worst kind of liberal cliché -- one that richly deserves the ridicule it's gotten over the years.

Honestly though, Gaby -- thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment and think this issue through. I truly appreciate the discussion.

Ref said...

WhatI haven't seen much comment on yet (I can hardly wait for Glen Beck's take on it) is the fact that the military formed their plans and went to Obama for approval and he gave it approval, TWICE. Where's their "appeasing liberal" tag now?

Chez said...

Beck's too busy preparing for the all-out nervous breakdown he's going to have on the 15th -- National Teabag Each Other Day.

Matt Osborne said...

Chez, I wouldn't say that we should "sympathize" with the pirates. But we do need to recognize how this piracy got started: the absence of government in Somalia allowed European criminal gangs to dump toxic nuclear waste in Somalia's waters, and fishing trawlers are stealing the national food supply. That's why the pirates see themselves as the heroes of this drama.

Now would be a good time for the US Navy to fill the power vacuum and enforce international laws -- all of them -- off the coast of Somalia.

Elessa said...

@Gaby But the thing that kills me is this: to this day, ships passing through Somalian water DON'T EVEN SPEED UP. Why? Because a) the overwhelming likelihood is that they won't get accosted by the pirates - there aren't that many, and b) the ransom they ask for is pocket change compared to what the cargo is worth, and most of these ships are insured anyway, since piracy has never ceased to exist.

Yes, the cargo ships are insured. However, due to piracy and the ransom payouts the costs of the insurance coverage premiums has increased in some instances 10X over the last few years. Guess who pays for that? We, the consumer.

kanye said...

1993: Blackhawk Down massacre

1994: The popularly elected Islamic Courts Union (ICU) defeats warlords responsible for Blackhawk Down incident. Chases warlords out of Somalia. Warlords take refuge in neighboring Ethiopia.

1994-2006: Somalia enjoys peace and stability. Airport and seaports open (first time since '91). Infrastructure is rebuilt (70+ hospitals are opened. Housing flourishes. Education is made a priority. Piracy is eliminated.)--------"The ICU was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs. The ICU is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation."

May, 2006: United States government begins secretly funding Somalian warlords' terrorist attacks on Somalian cities. Some of these same warlords are responsible for killing U.S. Forces during Blackhawk Down incident.

June, 2006: MOGADISHU — ICU again defeats U.S. Backed warlords. “Two defeated Somali warlords have fled from Mogadishu to a waiting US ship, while a third publicly renounced his opposition to the capital's new ruling Joint Islamic Courts (JIC), court sources said on Saturday, June17 .” These were some of the same warlords responsible for killing U.S. Troops during Blackhawk Down incident. "The streets in Mogadishu were full of women and kids," says Eric Laroche, the head of the UN's humanitarian operations in Somalia. "The kids were playing soccer."

December, 2006: United States determines that Somalia, Mogadishu in particular, has become an Al-Qaeda stronghold. --------Less than two weeks before the invasion, mid-December 2006, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer publicly declared that "The Council of Islamic Courts is now controlled by al-Qaeda cell individuals, east Africa al-Qaeda cell individuals." The claim was dubious and the Assistant Secretary of State provided no evidence. Horn of Africa specialist Ken Menkhaus notes that the Islamic Courts "movement as a whole was far from an al-Qaeda front. Only three foreign al-Qaeda operatives were said by the US to be in hiding in Mogadishu, a number far lower than those suspected of residing in neighboring Kenya."

Christmas day, 2006: Ethiopia, backed by both the UN and the U.S. Government as a partner in the war on terror, invades Somalia without provocation.---------”Ethiopia was not acting alone. The US had given its approval for the operation and provided key intelligence and technical support. CIA agents traveled with the Ethiopian troops, helping to direct operations.” United States government ordered fleeing refugees renditioned to other countries where they were tortured and killed. Following an Amnesty International investigation, it is determined that none of those renditioned had any connection to the ICU.

Since the invasion: 10,000 Somalis killed to date. ---------”Amnesty International has accused Ethiopian troops supporting Somalia’s UN-backed government of killing civilians by slitting people’s throats, gouging out eyes and gang-raping women.” The Somalia Transitional Federal Government...the government backed by U.S. Interests has been accused of the same methods as well.

Currently: The Somalian situation is considered the largest refugee crisis in the world. Ethiopian troops, having utterly destroyed Somalia's infrastructure, government and society, are now pulling out. In their wake, they leave a “transitional government”, elected by and consisting of many of the same warlords responsible for massacring U.S. Soldiers during the Blackhawk Down incident. This transitional government itself now teeters on the verge of collapse and what is sure to be a violent, bloody and horrific civil war seems inevitable.

Somalia was, up until two years ago, Ethiopia's main financial rival. Ethiopia is a Christian nation. Somalia is a Muslim nation. Ethiopia destroyed Somalia with the full faith, support and encouragement of both the UN and the United States Government on the pretext that Somalia was a hotbed of Al-Qaeda activity. Ethiopian forces were acting, quite literally, as a proxy army in the United States' war on terror. No evidence of Al-Qaeda activity was ever found.

The largest refugee camp in the world is currently comprised of over 200,000 Somalians.

“The number of people in Somalia in need of emergency food aid is likely to rise to about 3.5m in the coming months, the United Nations has warned. Somalia faces a worse situation than Darfur.“

I can provide links if anyone is interested.

Ref said...

(Sound of head pounding on wall, trying to erase that image!)

Chez said...

I'm sorry, Kanye. Are you telling me that the U.S. interferes in the affairs of other countries, sometimes to the detriment of not just that country's people but America's own interests (indirectly)?

No, it can't be. What will I ever do with my shattered idealism?

James Bradford said...

@ Kanye Please Do.

Che Grovera said...

The thing that surprised me about this post, Chez, was the uncharacteristic jingoist tone...everything okay?

Sheriff Bart said...

Links please, kanye. I love fish sticks.

ZoneMonk88 (J) said...

The ship captain was rescued unharmed, and the ignorant assholes that grabbed him are dead? Sounds like a great day to me!

kanye said...

Shattered idealism? Don't know...have you tried tape?

I can see why you read it that way, Chez, but that's not the point I was trying to make. What I was attempting to say is that people do insane things, often in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds not because they are stupid (well, most of the time), but because they are desperate. Pointing out the particulars of that desperation seemed the best way to illustrate that point. Next time, I'll be clearer.

BTW—The first thing that came to mind when I read that the Navy was steaming in, full-speed ahead : “I wonder what's really in those shipping containers.” Not much idealism in that thought.

Chez said...

I was waiting for someone to mention that, Che. I've always maintained that although I lean to the left on a lot of issues, I have plenty of moments where I'm willing to crank up the Pantera and enjoy a good, old fashioned American beat-down. When it's the Navy versus armed thugs on the high seas, I'm coming down on the side of our guys. My father is an ex-SEAL remember.

Che Grovera said...

Huh. Guess I haven't internalized your link to the SEALs yet. I don't fault your patriotism, Chez, but finding Toby Keith when you're used to getting Kate Smith (at most) is kind of...unsettling.

Chez said...

I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man.

Bill White said...

Somalia is a useless piece of land that's not even worth invading. We ought to dump our nuke waste there.
Dear Super SPs who posted on this site: Stop making excuses for fifth-rate criminals and how the big bad West doesn't understand them. They'd all look good with the nice glow of radioactive liquid dumped on them. This is a waste of time to debate that these mistakes of life deserve their day in court. I'm all for a culture of life, but these pirates and other thugs like Islamists are the exception. They're all a medical mistake and need to be exterminated. I hope Hussein Obama has the guts to do this.....

VOTAR said...

Chez don't know why Hedley care about where choo choo go.

Chez only pawn in great game of life.

Anonymous said...

I'm a right winger who actually isn't all that worried about Obama when it comes to international incidents like this. I am fairly confident that he will do the right thing, as he did here. I think Obama understands that if he wants to successfully extend the olive branch to nations like Iran, it is important to occasionally demonstrate that the United States can, and will, flex its muscles to defend its interests elsewhere.

What slays me is all the hand wringing this has brought. "Oh no, this will lead to more piracy and more violence." No - what led to more piracy was the fact that ransoms were paid to begin with. On the contrary, you may actually see less piracy now that the dummies made the mistake of pissing off the United States, thus leading to more U.S. naval activity in the area for the forseeable future.

Anonymous said...

I love it when MR Whites true christian sensibilitys shine thru.

I am convinced he is real because he sounds just like a lot of my toothless, rundown trailer house with a brand new bass boat behind a F-150 neighbors.

Jeremy S. said...

Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis and has been reading for some time knows this side of Chez and welcomes it every now and then. It's just been a long time since we've seen it. It's his little inner conservative trying to get out. Just kidding. Although I'm a little surprised this post didn't come from one...Garth...

Jeremy said...

Hahaha! Anon 12:44, I'm convinced he's an amazing work of satire for the exact same reason. (Except change "neighbor" to "flesh and blood kin".)
That and his spelling is too good.

Sheriff Bart said...

@ Chez 8:39Am


Zeromark said...

Chez, I am holding you responsible for the sounds of the theme of Team America resounding through my head, repeatedly.