Monday, October 19, 2009

The Latest in Piracy

Somali pirates have captured a Chinese cargo ship in the Indian Ocean, 700 miles from Somalia. According to the "naval spokesman for the European Union's anti-piracy force," the naval patrols in the region are forcing the pirates to move further out to find targets. Wow, what a great success. Basically they've succeeded in annoying the pirates, and increasing their travel time. Good job. Rarely has so much naval power been assembled for so little result. 

You have to wonder when some country is going to get tired of this and actually take effective actions, instead of just ignoring the lessons of history and trying to put a band-aid on the piracy problem. The Chinese currently have three warships in the region. Is there any chance they might retaliate against suspected pirate bases in Somalia? A British analyst quoted in the report thinks the Chinese will probably take a cautious approach, and avoid endangering the captured crew, but he isn't sure. As he points out,

"We've never seen so many Chinese citizens captured at a time when Chinese ships were in the region."
Somalia piracy will continue as long as it is profitable, and the rewards outweigh the risks. Naval patrols can't be everywhere at once, and there are just too many targets to cover.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if piracy increased and spread to other countries, since it is clear that no one has the stomach for stamping it out.

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