The other day the Somali pirates, who are still holding for ransom -- among other of their unholy confiscations from the high seas -- the Ukrainian freighter containing all those 40-ton battle tanks, went even farther out into the ocean and into their own endless perfidy by going upscale in a major way. Using just a few speedboats and some rocket-propelled grenade launchers, they captured a huge, new supertanker belonging to the Saudi Arabians and loaded to the brim with 2,000,000 gallons of crude oil.
The pirates escorted the giant tanker to the Somali coast, where it is now sitting quietly about three miles offshore. Such an acquisition must be impressing the local inhabitants highly. Daily they gather on the beach in numbers to ogle the sight. They have never seen a ship that big, and detained there indefinitely by some of their own.
The pirates are demanding a ransom of 25 million. The news reports focus on the fact that that oil has a value of about 100 million dollars, but I don't see so much importance in that. What is important is the oil itself, and the twin horrors of the total wastage of a highly important resource, plus the pollution that would be produced if something should happen to that ship, and then there are the several crewmen who also being held captive onboard. I doubt if all those inhabitants would be so proud if they knew what so much oil could do to their fair coastline.
And meanwhile the mighty U.S. Navy has done absolutely nothing about any of this. Instead it was the Navy of no less a country than India, those turbaned guys who are rarely thought of as having even a modest PT boat, that found, picked a fight with, and with a noticeable lack of misgivings sent one of the pirate motherships straight to the bottom, where it and all the other vessels of its kind belong.
Still that didn't stop more Somali abductions of other freighters in the same week.
Instead of doing something really as necessary as going after all this egregious wrongdoing on the high seas, the U.S. Navy is merely using the warships that it does have in the area to continue to surround the Ukrainian freighter, to keep the smaller arms aboard from being brought ashore. Meanwhile it keeps the main body of its ships in that part of the world up in the Persian Gulf or nearby, in the continuing and useless effort to try to browbeat Iran into submission, ostensibly about developing nuclear weapons.
I guess the U.S. governing officials share the often befuddled Air American host Ron Kuby in seeing this piracy as being all some sort of joke. He can never resist mentioning it without playing a few bars of yo-ho-ho "pirate music," and expressing surprise at the pirates' ingenuity and use of modern technology, to the point where he -- or somebody on the air -- recently defended the pirate's actions as being understandable and amounting to important contributions to the Somali economy, given the chronically sad state of conditions there, and I'm sure that person wasn't just being sarcastic.
When it turned out that all that oil was being taken to the U.S., I thought that somebody there might finally get serious about what to me is a very serious matter. After all piracy is a form of hijacking, and hijacking is bad news at sea fully as much as it is in the air, or just on a city street.
The Navy spokespeople argue that their outfir can do little to nothing about it, because there's too much ocean and Somali coastline to patrol effectively, but I find that impossible to believe. In fact this feigned impotence only adds to the picture of the U.S. military as being largely a huge waster of the funds that Americans are forced to send to the government, wherein nothing really productive is gained in pursuit of the so-called "broken windows" military policy. Surely everyone has seen the Military Channel and knows about all the high tech gadgetry, with which U.S. forces could easily scope out not only where the pirate motherboats, speedboats, and strongholds are, but also to deliver some detonations there with pinpoint accuracy.
Meanwhile the pirates are showing their usual heights of arrogance by vowing to resist with deadly force any attempts to release the ship and its crewmen by military intervention, saying they are "defending" the oil while waiting for "their" money. Here, in addition to foreigners, they are thinking about Islamists on shore, who have sworn to rescue the ship, on the grounds that the ship and the oil belong to other Muslims and therefore should not have been touched. And in fact it was in recent years that the Islamists were briefly in control in Somalia long enough to get rid of an earlier gneration of the pirates. But now some think they may clandestinely have in mind looking for merely their cut of the anticipated loot, in the style of Mafia kingpins controlling a neighborhood.
"A Big Mess" hardly begins to describe this situation and how it's beginning to spread, like poison in the arteries, to far reaches of the world, and not merely by putting a deadly squeeze on one of the globe's major shipping lanes.