I am astonished at the world’s response to the continuing piracy problem off the East African coast.
Pirates are criminals – there is no “nicer” or “softer” or even “politically correct” manner to describe them and what they do. In short, they transgress international maritime law. They highjack ships and hold the crews hostage. They demand – and get – massive ransom payments.
There is no excuse for their actions – they are simply criminals that have got the West and the shipping companies quaking in their boots. In days gone by, they would have been hanged if they were caught. Today, we have become so spineless that we would rather turn a blind eye and hope they do not attack our country’s ships.
Surely, someone somewhere must have realised by now that using political correctness as a method of countering piracy has failed – and can never succeed. Water cannons and bean bags have never been a real deterrent – except maybe to ill-prepared rioters. Sending naval task forces into the pirate-infested areas is likewise a hollow threat. Yet, the taxpayers have to fund these navies in order to protect the shipping companies who don’t repay the costs of the naval task forces. In short, it is a great business deal for the shipping companies.
Whereas many PMCs and individuals – myself included – have written concepts, plans, proposals and more on how to counter this menace, no one has yet had the courage to implement these plans for fear of international condemnation. International law is in this instance also a prohibiting factor as there is great uncertainty as regards the legalities of having weapons on-board a ship, something that is in reality very simple. But, it seems, no one likes a simple plan. The more complicated it is, the more people like it.
Even more astonishing is that everyone is keen to give an excuse why the pirates are operating – from the failed-state theory to great poverty. That is, in a sense, much like condoning a bank robber and then making excuses for his criminal behaviour. As long as no one gets seriously hurt, it must be okay…
The message everyone is sending these pirates is that it is perfectly acceptable to commit their crimes. Besides, how much of their profits are sent to organised crime groups and even terrorist groups, thus allowing them to continue to operate? How much of these pirate actions are being coordinated from Europe, the Middle East and the UK? By all accounts, most are.
Well, I for one think it is time to take drastic action. If I am condemned for this, then so be it.
It is time that someone with some backbone stood up and admitted it: The only way to stop the pirates is to attack them on the ground. They need to be taught a very severe lesson – the lesson being that organised crime is not acceptable and that they will suffer the consequences for their actions.
If there is really a desire to end piracy, the best manner to achieve this will be by launching ground assaults on their safe-havens. Of course, this may upset those who wish to continue to be politically correct and humane. But they, too, must now decide whether this type of crime is acceptable or not.
If aggressive, decisive and targeted action is not soon taken, these criminals will simply continue to do what they do and even spread their wings to richer pickings elsewhere.
The strategy is simple: the pirates need to be stopped. The time has come to take offensive action. A group of well-trained men, correctly equipped and supported, will be able to wreak havoc on the pirates – before they even set sail from their harbours.
I, like many others, would be happy to plan and carry this action out on behalf of any government that has some backbone.
Will there be any takers? I doubt it…
My next posting will take a critical look at the so-called "troop surge" strategy.