Sunday, April 19, 2009

Clear Policy on Piracy Needed

I've commented and I've criticized the problem of political inaction on the subject of piracy. The International Marine Bureau reports that at least 80 ships have been attacked on the high seas by Somali pirates in the Horn of Africa area since January 1, 2009. Of those, 19 have been seized by pirates who subsequently held the ships and their crews for ransom. 

Piracy on the high seas is not a new crime. In fact it's one of the oldest and there is a clear body of law that snakes back into antiquity. The only way to deal with pirates is with swift, severe and certain action. US President Obama is new at this, so he can be excused to some extent for not understanding the requirements of military operations. While I am clearly not usually an apologist for Pres. Obama, I hope he learns from this situation. I am surprised that the Dutch (who I have personally worked with and find to be VERY GOOD) were hamstrung by laws to the extent that they have not been able to be effective in rendering the pirates permanently harmless. 

Sending NATO ships into the area is a complete waste of time unless the rules of engagements are modified from their present standing. Ship's captains should be allowed to exercise their initiative in dealing with pirates as legal tradition and precedence allows.

Canadian sailors on the warship Winnipeg, part of the NATO mission, meanwhile helped ward off a suspected pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden on April 17, Sky News said today, citing Michael McWhinnie, a spokesman on the ship. The Winnipeg sent a helicopter after a civilian vessel reported that four people in a skiff were firing at it, according to Sky. The suspects fled, throwing their arms overboard; they were caught hours later and released after questioning, according to Sky. (Jones Hayden and Maud van Gaal - Bloomberg April 19, 2009)

One wonders what the Canadians learned from the pirates and why they were not held --  and why the Winnipeg's helicopter did not return fire after being fired upon and kill everyone in what was clearly a pirate skiff. I wasn't there, I'll withhold judgment. I'm simply curious, but I know the answer. Political realities tie the hands of military ship's captains. None of this serves to end piracy and only tends to encourage more of it.

No comments:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin