Print

Print


I raised the issue of whether the hijacked ships are in international or
Somali waters because it goes to the question of how direct a connection
there is between the legitimate grievances of the Somali people and the
actions of the pirates. If a ship is just passing by in international
waters, sometimes hundreds of miles offshore, then the connection is pretty
weak unless one wants to argue that any attack on a ship owned and operated
by capitalists is legitimate. Taken to extremes, this would be similar logic
to thinking that the attack on the World Trade Center was not so bad because
the people killed were "little Eichmanns," in Ward Churchill's elegant
phrasing. I suppose that the working class seamen whose lives are endangered
by the pirates could be considered tools of the capitalist class too,
although I think most here would be able to sympathize with them.

I am encouraged by Herb's acknowledgement that the pirates are criminals,
because all too often leftists fall for the logic "the enemy of my enemy is
my friend." We have seen that with the Somali pirate issue. This is the
logic of weak and hapless leftists who look to others, anyone, to do their
work for them.

As for mart's comments, his gratuitous mention of my BU affiliation
constitutes a personal reference, and in this case a personal attack, about
which our moderator should take note. Our moderator should also admonish me
for the following personal attack on mart, which is that he is this list's
leading bullshitter although at times he provides a little bit of
entertainment.

MB

On Sun, Jun 14, 2009 at 5:02 AM, herb fox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> The problem with the reaction of the Somali fisherman to their loss of
> livelihood is that instead of using piracy as a tactic in a political
> movement aimed at getting their fishing grounds detoxed and seeking
> compensation for loss of livelihood, they engage in criminal extortion.  For
> example, suppose that upon taking possession of a ship they demanded as a
> condition for the release of the crew that a plan for detoxification of
> Somali waters be worked out and that Somali fishermen families be
> compensated for their losses until the fish return.  There is no question
> that the root cause is the abuse by foreign ships described.  But the
> problem is described in the article:
>
>   fishermen bought guns and set out to exact informal taxes on the foreign
> owners of illegal trawlers. The kidnapping business proved lucrative, with
> ransoms of hundreds of thousands of dollars regularly paid out - and any
> noble motives were soon forgotten
>
> Unfortunately they gave up the moral high ground.
>
> Of course every progressive should have sympathy for their plight and
> should do all possible to increase general awareness of the original real
> pirates and put pressure on their governments to hold them accountable.
>  Recall "two wrongs don't make a right."
>
> The question whether or not the political tactic of holding commercial
> ships hostage occurs in international waters or not, is only relevant to the
> punishment to be expected if caught.  That is hardly the issue when
> desperate persons do desperate things.
>  herb
>
>
> mart wrote:
>
>> almost all of them are in international waters, by about 300 feet.  many
>> were carrying nickel bags, or quat, so they aren't reliable.  so, drop out
>> of bu.
>>
>> --- On Sat, 6/13/09, Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>>> From: Michael Balter <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Subject: Re: "Foreigners are the real pirates"
>>> To: [log in to unmask]
>>> Date: Saturday, June 13, 2009, 11:53 AM
>>> What percentage of the ships captured
>>> by pirates are in Somali waters and what percentage in
>>> international waters? That would be an important thing to
>>> know. The claim by Somali pirates that they are patriots
>>> protecting their nation's environment should be viewed
>>> with at least some skepticism.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> MB
>>>
>>> On Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 4:05 AM,
>>> Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article6481875.ece
>>>
>>>
>>> June 12, 2009
>>>
>>>
>>> Foreigners are the real pirates, says former Somali
>>> fisherman
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> by Tristan McConnell in Berbera, Somalia
>>>
>>>
>>> The first time Farah Ismail Eid set out to hijack a
>>> ship off the
>>> coast of Somalia his boat was easily outrun. On the second
>>> occasion he
>>> kept pace but his boarding ladder was too short. On the
>>> third attempt
>>> he was captured.
>>>
>>>
>>> Eid, 38, from Eyl on the Somalia coast, is one of an
>>> estimated
>>> 1,500 fishermen-turned-pirates who have made the seas
>>> between the Suez
>>> Canal and the Indian Ocean the most dangerous shipping
>>> route in the
>>> world.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> "I believe the title of pirates should be given to
>>> those who come to
>>> our waters illegally," he told The Times after
>>> shuffling into a room
>>> at the British colonial-era Mandheera prison, 40 miles
>>> south of
>>> Berbera, wearing plastic sandals, a T-shirt and a length of
>>> printed
>>> material wrapped around his skinny waist.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Eid may have not proved himself much of a pirate, but
>>> others have
>>> attacked at least 114 ships this year, 29 successfully.
>>> About 20 ships
>>> and 300 crew are being held hostage, while dozens of
>>> international
>>> warships now patrol the Gulf of Aden.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> International forces have been wringing their hands over
>>> how to deal
>>> with captured pirates. In many cases they are simply
>>> released after
>>> their equipment is destroyed - but Eid and his four-man
>>> crew were
>>> tried and given 15-year prison terms. "When we capture
>>> the pirates
>>> we bring them to justice," said Ahmed Ali, the deputy
>>> head of the
>>> ill-equipped Somaliland Coastguard.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Mandheera prison is straight out of a spaghetti western:
>>> hot wind
>>> blows dust devils across a scorched plain surrounded by
>>> rocky,
>>> scrub-covered hills. A few eucalyptus trees offer scant
>>> shelter from
>>> the 40C (104F) heat. Barred windows in the 6m (20ft) walls
>>> let little
>>> light into the sweltering cells that are home to 633
>>> prisoners,
>>> including the five pirates caught in September last year.
>>> Another 31
>>> have been captured and brought here since.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Eid blamed foreigners for the rise of piracy. He said he
>>> had a couple
>>> of boats and a fish-trading business in Eyl until illegal
>>> trawlers
>>> ruined the fishing: "The fish we caught used to be
>>> enough for the
>>> local people and enough to sell, but now there is not even
>>> enough to
>>> eat."
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Foreign ships started dumping toxic waste in Somali waters,
>>> he said,
>>> and one day he found shoals of fish floating. "We
>>> thought we were
>>> lucky. We collected the fish and stored them in
>>> refrigerators, then
>>> later we discovered they were like plastic.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> "These problems fell on us like rain," he said,
>>> his right leg
>>> twitching as he chewed on a mouthful of qat, a narcotic
>>> leaf enjoyed
>>> by many Somalis.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Eid said that fishermen bought guns and set out to exact
>>> informal
>>> taxes on the foreign owners of illegal trawlers. The
>>> kidnapping
>>> business proved lucrative, with ransoms of hundreds of
>>> thousands of
>>> dollars regularly paid out - and any noble motives were
>>> soon
>>> forgotten as pirate gangs launched attacks on cruise liners
>>> and cargo
>>> ships, including those carrying food for Somalia's
>>> starving
>>> millions.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> He justified the attacks as a way of highlighting their
>>> concerns.
>>> "We are quite aware that what we are doing is wrong,
>>> but this is a way
>>> of shouting to the world," he said. "The world
>>> should ask: 'Are
>>> these people wrong or were they wronged themselves?"
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Eid has his own solution to the problem. "The
>>> international
>>> community should come and talk to us; they should
>>> compensate us for
>>> the problems caused to our waters by illegal fishing and
>>> toxic waste,"
>>> he said. "Then, until the government is in place in
>>> Somalia, we
>>> could protect the ships as they cross our waters."
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> The international community is unlikely to take him up on
>>> the
>>> offer.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> ******************************************
>>> Michael Balter
>>> Contributing Correspondent, Science
>>> Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
>>> Boston University
>>>
>>> Email:           [log in to unmask]
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Website:       michaelbalter.com
>>> Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com
>>> ******************************************
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>


-- 
******************************************
Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Boston University

Email:           [log in to unmask]

Website:       michaelbalter.com
Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com
******************************************