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.
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:Unfortunately they gave up the moral high ground.
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
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.
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.
On Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 4:05 AM,
Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]>
June 12, 2009
Foreigners are the real pirates, says former Somali
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
kept pace but his boarding ladder was too short. On the
he was captured.
Eid, 38, from Eyl on the Somalia coast, is one of an
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
"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
Berbera, wearing plastic sandals, a T-shirt and a length of
material wrapped around his skinny waist.
Eid may have not proved himself much of a pirate, but
attacked at least 114 ships this year, 29 successfully.
About 20 ships
and 300 crew are being held hostage, while dozens of
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
their equipment is destroyed - but Eid and his four-man
tried and given 15-year prison terms. "When we capture
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:
blows dust devils across a scorched plain surrounded by
scrub-covered hills. A few eucalyptus trees offer scant
the 40C (104F) heat. Barred windows in the 6m (20ft) walls
light into the sweltering cells that are home to 633
including the five pirates caught in September last year.
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
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
Foreign ships started dumping toxic waste in Somali waters,
and one day he found shoals of fish floating. "We
thought we were
lucky. We collected the fish and stored them in
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
by many Somalis.
Eid said that fishermen bought guns and set out to exact
taxes on the foreign owners of illegal trawlers. The
business proved lucrative, with ransoms of hundreds of
dollars regularly paid out - and any noble motives were
forgotten as pirate gangs launched attacks on cruise liners
ships, including those carrying food for Somalia's
He justified the attacks as a way of highlighting their
"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
community should come and talk to us; they should
compensate us for
the problems caused to our waters by illegal fishing and
he said. "Then, until the government is in place in
could protect the ships as they cross our waters."
The international community is unlikely to take him up on
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Email: [log in to unmask]
Balter's Blog: michael-balter.blogspot.com