Sunday, August 21, 2011

Another Ship Hijacked by Somali Pirates

Indian tanker hijacked, ‘heads to Somalia’ MV Fairchem Bogey, an Indian chemical-oil tanker was hijacked with 21 Indian sailors aboard.

There is a large multinational naval force in the Gulf of Aden, trying to stop Somali piracy, but without much success. (Oh, some success, yes, but the number of attacks is still growing.)

So what to do? You can't be more aggressive because that would lead to "bad publicity." Sea Transportation: No Harm In Trying
A second approach is to be more aggressive. In other words, your ships and helicopters shoot (pirates) on sight and shoot to kill. Naturally, the pirates will hide their weapons (until they are in the act of taking a ship), but it will still be obvious what a speedboat full of "unarmed" men are up to. You could take a chance (of dead civilians and bad publicity) and shoot up any suspicious speedboat, or larger mother ship. Some of the pirates would probably resort to taking some women and children with them. Using human shields is an old Somali custom, and usually works against Westerners. More pirate attacks will be thwarted with this approach, but the attacks will continue, and NATO will be painted as murderous bullies in the media.

The third option is to go ashore and kill or capture all the pirates, or at least as many as you can identify. Then destroy pirate boats and weapons. This is very dangerous, because innocent (or somewhat innocent) civilians will be killed or injured, and the property of non-pirates will be damaged. The anti-piracy forces will be condemned in some quarters for committing atrocities. There might even be indictments for war crimes. There will be bad publicity. NATO will most likely avoid this option too.
Pirates are media savvy. They know NATO and the West generally will not risk bad publicity. They know their atrocities - and they have committed them - will never see the light of day. The media would never paint the poor suffering Somalis as monsters. (Those "poor" Somalis were paid $200 million in ransoms in the past year.)

So men and women languish in captivity. And suffer. And die. For the sake of public opinion.

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