7.23.2009

Smooth Seas Ahead for Somali Pirates

Mark Helprin writes a satirical letter to the Somali pirates, posing as a Washington-based consultancy, and advising the pirates on the potential threats to their "enterprises" posed by America and other Western nations.

It's a sadly true commentary on the pitiful, self-sacrificial state of our country's foreign policy, which has eroded beyond all recognition from the time of the Monroe Doctrine. Helprin lays out the full military capability that could be employed to eradicate the pirates, and then says, referencing Jefferson's war with the Barbary pirates:
As daunting as all this may seem, we believe that you may conduct your business relatively unimpeded for some time to come. When the United States had only a tiny fraction of the naval capability it now has, the small and vulnerable forces it sent to deal with pirates of equal or greater military power performed with legendary bravery and daring. That was then.
He later concludes with this excellently phrased and damning critique--though he doesn't name it explicitly--of an altruistic foreign policy.
The powers that should be a threat to you are caught in a paralyzing web of abstract legalities, deference to hostile opinion, and even in the clearest cases a perverse contempt for self-defense, which rules out the ability effectively to define, prepare for, justify, and execute it—and execute you. You would think that if you fire upon our ships we would fire back. But those days are over, and you have prosperous times ahead. [bold added]
Read the whole disappointing, disheartening thing. If you're like me, it will make you shake your head in disgust at the moral cowardice and unprincipled actions of those who guide our foreign policy.

3 comments:

Tom said...

What ever happened to Blackwater's attempt to offer a patrol of the waters off of Somalia? They were going to charge shipping companies a protection fee and they would simply annihilate any pirates that approached the ships they were protecting. Was that whole venture shot down?

C. August said...

I'm not familiar with that, but Helprin does seem to address that idea in the following:

Protection Allowed: There are many impediments to the self-defense of merchantmen, including national and international statutes, insurance regulations, and government requirements, all of which, however, could easily be swept away by changes in law and policy that would encourage commercial vessels to take on private security teams.

What this says to me is that government (national and international) regulations, among other things, are in the way of allowing merchant vessels to have private security like Blackwater. This is just a guess based on what he wrote, but perhaps that is was happened to the proposal you mentioned.

Ryan O. said...

I remember when satire was funny because it would be absurd if such things were real.

Now it's just sad because such things are, but should not be, real.

These are dark days.