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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Checking in with the Puntland Pirates

Today, weeks after the pirates that operate out of the Puntland region of Somalia grabbed a Ukrainian ship that, unknown to them, contained, among other instruments of war, 33 battle tanks that, among other major drawbacks, weighed 40 tons apiece, nothing much has changed since the events of the first week. The ship's captain died in the very first days, as if out of pure mortification -- he had acute high blood pressure problems. But all the 20 other crewmen seem to be still alive and kicking, as are the several dozen pirates themselves, and between those two groups things must be pretty funky on that ship by now. The U.S. Navy still has several ships on hand to make sure that the more portable weapons that are also part of the cargo are not spirited out and redistributed for more misery-making on the land, and a Russian missile frigate is still on its way there, as it has been all this time.

The pirates are still holding out for 20 million in ransom, and the ship's owners have supposedly been trying to scrape up the cash, by asking for donations. It says something about what the world thinks about all this, to note that they are still 19 million short.

The real sticking point of all this is not those tanks and the other armaments in the holds but the human element, and there can't be any doubt that were it not for those captured crewmen, somebody would have long since sent in a torpedo, preferably with the pirates still aboard, and sent the whole businees to the bottom. And I guess this is why there hasn't been any great distress about the leisurely pace of that Russian frigate, because many expect that they will have no interest in keeping up the vigil and will instead take measures that will quickly resolve the issue, one way or the other, regardless of the loss of life.

Meanwhile the more responsible of the African authorities have no interest in seeing the ransom being paid, because that only encourages the piracy, that has been so successful that it threatens to cut off one of the world's main shipping lanes. Along with the Russian frigate a small fleet of NATO warships is also on its slow way there, though it's agreed that as long as there's no government on the land, the piracy on the seas can't really be stopped. Ironically, for a time an Islamic government had succeeded in doing just that, but it was swept away by an invasion of Ethiopians, backed by the Bush govt.

This Puntland piracy is a real impasse, that apparently can only be solved by somebody loosing their temper, though after the resulting explosion the pieces will have every prospect of reassembling themselves into an unholy mess that will be much the same as before. And Somalia isn't the only place where that kind of thing is happening. It just happens to be one of the most naked.


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