Sink all pirates!

November 29, 2008

I’m not sure exactly how many ships have been boarded by Somali pirates in the past few years, but some reports put the number in the hundreds.  I’ve read a couple articles recently to the extent of “what should the world do about Somali pirates?”  The arguments range from “Private security services onboard all ships” to “Nothing” to “The U.N. should attack the Somali pirate home port.”

I’m certain humans have dealt with this exact problem before.  Something about eye patches and big floppy hats and “arrrgh!”  In those days, the general policy of world navys (navies?) was to hunt down all ships controlled by pirates, and sink them.  Could this idea work today?

There would be several main arguments against sinking:

1.  We won’t sink the cargo.  This could range from environmental reasons with oil tankers to civilian reasons like hostages.  In some cases, certain corporations will argue not to sink other valuable cargoes (gold, MRI machines, communications satellites).  These arguments will have to be listened to.

2.  Make love, not war.  Don’t shoot them, don’t shoot anyone.  Talk everything out.

3.  We don’t have the authority.  Um, did you think Obama was going to go on an embassy tour giving group hugs?  He knows he is the commander in chief of the most powerful economic and military nation in the world.  I’m pretty sure Somalia would be okay, especially if we asked in a really nice voice and already had all the Tomaharks armed and targeted from our warships in the harbor.  After what the mortage crisis has just put the world through, some foreigners would probably rather be invaded:  “At least we’d have great TV.”  Feel free to add comments for any other good jokes to make.

But making a general policy to sink all ships that had been captured by pirates would be a good idea.  We would make exceptions for oil tankers, lots of civilians, or particularly persuasive entities that could make it worth the U.N.’s while.  But for your run-of-the-mill trawlers or cargo ships that are captained by 10-15 pirates?

A couple torpedoes should do it.  We’ll have the prison ships ready to pick them out of the water and marines waiting on the beach to capture the swimmers.  Think they’ll be excited to be turned over to Somailia and take their chances in the Somali legal system?

This would be brutal, and gruesome, especially as the world sees the CNN shots of dead pirates.  But the world is plenty rich to cover any sunken non-essential vessels that get captured by pirates.  Economically, the shipping corporations would have to cover the increased cost by a combination of insurance premiums and armed mercenaries onboard.  But if followed, pirates would sure get the idea and I think this would mostly solve the growing problem.  Please comment and tell me why this is a stupid idea.