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Confounding the Fuzzy-Wuzzies
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Okay, I know that the Fuzzies were Sudanese followers of the Mahdi and that the Somalis are ethnically different, but they all do have bushy hair, which is what Kipling was referring to. I have been following the debate over what to do about the Somali pirates with some interest, particularly as assiduous readers of this website will recall that I some time ago advocated the Pompey the Great solution to eliminate the problem. Currently, there is the Bill Kristol solution making the rounds, which would essentially require invading the country, while those opposed to Kristol keep invoking the familiar liberal-minded tropes, i.e. that poverty is the root cause of the piracy and that it is impossible for a US marine to distinguish a pirate from a farmer.

Well, I am never one disinclined to take a whack at Kristol, but the turn the other cheek crowd has it somewhat wrong even if Kristol is, as usual, looking for regime change. Recent press accounts make it clear that the pirates have a lot of money and well established lavishly appointed villas that serve as the bases for their forays. They are also armed will an array of weapons served by well appointed arsenals that they have supplied with their ransom money and seagoing high speed boats that are too big and heavy to haul up out of the water and hide in the bushes. A judicious use of force to destroy those bases and the equipment and boats would reduce their capabilities considerably and it would take them a long time to reequip and regroup. It would be a proportionate and targeted use of naval resources to solve a serious problem, precisely what our Founding Fathers might have had in mind when they created the navy and marine corps.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Somalia 
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  1. Anonymous • Disclaimer says: • Website

    The simplest of plans have a habit of going awry when violence is the tool of choice. There’s a saying, “The battle plan is the first casualty of war.” The more complicated the plan the greater the chance of failure. In addition, wiping out the current breed of pirate will inevitably lead to the establishment of an even more virulent strain of pirates who may not have any qualms about executing hostages if their demands aren’t met. This IS an economic issue and you are trying to cure the symptoms, not the disease, with violence. Foreigners with guns rarely deter, or solve, anything in this region of the world. Why does everyone seem to think that firefights are easy things?

    “it would take them a long time to reequip and regroup.”

    What makes you think this? Somalia is swimming in arms markets from which they could re-arm the following day. Not to mention the fact that there are more than likely multiple groups engaging in this activity who would be more than happy to pick up the others slack.

    “precisely what our Founding Fathers might have had in mind when they created the navy and marine corps.”

    That was over 200 years ago and pirates weren’t sporting AK’s, RPG’s and GPS systems back then. Technology has leveled the playing field in regards to non-state perpetrators of violence duking it out with established nation-states. Problems can no longer be resolved with hammers anymore, and that is what a military strike would be. Only it would more likely end up as a game of whack-a-mole.

    Also keep in mind that these pirates operate with the support of the local communities, and it would not surprise me if some of that ransom money was finding it’s way back into those communities, or that the pirates themselves come from them. Move against the pirates and you move against the civilians in those communities, which will endear them to the pirates more so and exacerbate your pirate problem.

    And targeted at who? Suppose the pirates disappear into the local populace, who do you kill then? Sure you’ve destroyed the villa and maybe some weapons and boats. You have not removed the source of their funding, whatever funds they may still have, the arms markets or removed the appeal of piracy to the pirates. They live in a world of violence, what makes you think you can shock them with it?

    Somalia is in dire straights and they’ve been attempting to use violence to resolve their issues for decades now. It hasn’t worked. What makes you think “judicious” use of force would be any more successful?

  2. WRW says:

    As I noted in commenting on your earlier post about Kristol, at least here he can cite the Constitution (Art. I, Section 8) which expressly empowers Congress to establish penalties for piracy. If a penalty is imposed that necessarily implies Congress’ power to enforce the penalty. They have targeted US shipping as well Unlike the Army, maintaining a Navy at all necessarily implies its use away from the mainland US. It would not be an untoward US of our forces provided the Administration limits it work to the pirates (as opposed to Kristol’s latest invasion project.) Perhaps we need to send Kristol to see Keanu Reeves’ latest movie?

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