Tuesday, December 02, 2008

From the halls of Montezuma...

...to the shores of Somali.

Pirates chased and shot at a U.S. cruise liner with more than 1,000 people on board but failed to hijack the vessel as it sailed along a corridor patrolled by international warships, a maritime official said Tuesday.

The liner, carrying 656 international passengers and 399 crew members, was sailing through the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden on Sunday when it encountered six bandits in two speedboats, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

Luckily they were able to outrun the pirates. We're not talking about charming rogues who sing light opera.

International warships patrol the area and have created a security corridor in the region under a U.S.-led initiative, but the attacks have not abated.

In about 100 attacks on ships off the Somali coast this year, 40 vessels have been hijacked, Choong said. Fourteen remain in the hands of pirates along with more than 250 crew members.

That is a lot of scratch. Nuance would say that there's not much else for Somalis to do to survive, considering that the place has been a hellhole for something like twenty years. Then again, who is arming and supplying these folks? Who put up the seed money, so to speak, to outfit these bandits? Who provided the job training? It takes a certain skill set to successfully hijack a sailing vessel... weapons training, subduing the crew (who may well be armed), guarding the catch, setting up the ransom... This isn't a trade one can just wander into. I'm also wondering how a group of folks just decides to try piracy as a career. If the USA slid into anarchy, I'm sure there would be a subset of people working as highway robbers and such, but that doesn't require nautical training, specialized gear, tons of fuel, boats, ports, etc. And there would be just as many people who would organize into small city-states and run them by law.

Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesman Vasyl Kyrylych said Monday that negotiations with Somali pirates holding the cargo ship MV Faina are nearly completed, the Interfax news agency reported.

A spokesman for the Faina's owner said Sunday that the Somali pirates had agreed on a ransom for the ship and it could be released within days.

I'd file this under "bad ideas." Perhaps - possibly kinda maybe - I could understand a case where refusing to pay up would be worse, such as pirates claiming workable nuclear cargo that could be sold to enemies and used for mass murder... but even there, you could argue that it would only teach the bandits what cargo is actually worth risking life and limb for. For the most part I think these folks need stomping, not haggling, because paying up only gets you more of what you paid for. The only negotiation should be over how fast they surrender.

Of course, this is MSNBC, so the really intriguing factoid is down at the very bottom of the article.

Somali prime minister Nur Hassan Hussein said Tuesday that his country has been torn apart by 18 years of civil war and cannot stop piracy alone.

"This needs a tremendous effort," Hussein told The Associated Press. He has appealed for international troops, as his government's Ethiopian allies have said they would pull out their forces by the end of the year.

Ethiopia, the region's military powerhouse, has been integral in boosting the government. But Islamic insurgents have now seized control of all of southern Somalia except for the capital and the parliamentary seat of Baidoa.

Yeah, emphasis mine. It's the final sentence of the whole piece: after ads, links to related articles, two slideshows, a video, and a quiz. (And by the way - titling the quiz "Arrr, matey!" is in very poor taste considering the subject matter. Just saying, is all. Stay classy, MSNBC!)

We can't be everywhere all at once, but I think it would be prudent for the West to consider answering this appeal. This situation highlights something about the War on Terror that has caused much scoffing on the Left. The argument boils down to, "Iraq never did anything to us, why do we need to fight them?" Somalia isn't doing anything to anyone either, but letting them crumble into anarchy at the hands of Islamists has led to a situation where a lot of people are now suffering, not least of whom are the Somalis. This isn't really a private affair. Those responsible for these outrages on the high seas are only able to do so because of what has been done to Somalia - if the insurgents in question aren't actively arming, training, and supplying them. This is another front in the war currently being waged against the civilized peoples of the world, by people who are the avowed enemies of liberty. They are quite plain about how they would run things.

Those who carp about the cruel patriarchy of Christianity however many centuries ago have a unique opportunity here - instead of exaggerating and hyperbolizing the past, or claiming that the present is just as bad right where they live, they can lift their eyes past their noses for a moment and see people who really are worse than their worst accusations. They can speak out against those who make even the most outlandish lies against Christendom seem like tame euphemisms. There really ARE people who enslave women, butcher infidels and unbelievers, police speech and thought, pillage the land, and put to the sword all manner of "deviants." They're proud of it and brag about how good they are at it. None of them are currently President of the United States.

(Update - it took five minutes to find an example of what I've just described - from MARK SHEA of all people. Hat tip to the Creative Minority Report.)

(Just as an aside - 400 crew for 656 passengers? That works out to roughly 25 crew to serve every 41 people. No wonder it's so expensive.)

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