Going on the Account: The Seas Afore Us

There is a good overview piece in today’s MANILA BULLETIN about the Somali action, with some interesting stats and accounts that makes one ponder. 


One point the article makes is that while the current suppression activities are having an impact, they’re just that: suppression.  Eradication could not have been expected with their tactics, and it’s only a matter of time before they adapt.


Meanwhile, there seems to be a growing realization that the seas can’t be kept safe if no solution is brought to bear ashore.  Reading this call from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for more engagement in the country is encouraging, even if calls from Secretary-Generals over the years have rarely been heeded.  And to be frank, going to the main site where this piece came from, a news source from Somalia, the headline roll looks grim.


Why focus on Somali pirates, you ask, other than the obvious if tenuous connections?  Because what happened in Somalia, where a central authority could not deal effectively with the demands placed on it and led to chaos, is not a result confined to the eastern shores of Africa.  Whereas the Golden Age of Piracy was defined by the individual asserting himself (or herself) against the state, the Modern Age of Piracy is defined by the individual filling a void that the state either cannot or refuses to fill.  And this is a more terrifying state of affairs; instead of working outside civilization at its edges, it’s accepting that civilization no longer applies.  And with the pressures facing our world, there’s no reason to believe that Somalia is an isolated case; at the same time the UN authorized troops to come ashore there, Yugoslavia disintegrated to the surprise of everyone.


So while the novel discusses the way pirates were, the news feeds discuss the way pirates are.  And if one looks at the buccaneers of 350 years ago and realizes what they were a harbinger of, then considers the portents provided by modern pirates, it becomes far scarier than anything I could write…

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