Going on the Account: When One Hatch Closes…

A threat to the Somali pirates looms large, due to forces outside of their control.

While crews continue to go on the account as always, including a recent try for an Iranian tanker, what could be the beginning of the end took place in Uganda, a landlocked country hundreds of miles away from the action.  The bombing Sunday of two gatherings of World Cup fans by the al Shabaab militant group from Somalia puts pressure on the United States to do more beyond the occasional raiding action.

Despite the logistical nightmare of mounting an energized third theater, it’s not unreasonable to assume some sort of engagement might occur.  The threat of a destabilized East Africa, within range of the Middle East and sitting along the routes in and out of the Persian Gulf, is not something easily ignored, and the Obama Administration has been showing more interest in the region than it’s seen in most of the last decade.  While a long-term commitment by US ground forces is unlikely, working more closely with African peacekeepers seems to be in the works; expanded fire support for heavier engagements could be a way to bring more pressure to bear.

And if the African Union does stabilize (at least relatively) the Somali coast, where does that leave the pirates?  In the short term, actions could probably continue on a limited basis, until order allows for a state that wants to join the rest of the world comes into being.  At that point the show either shuts down or moves to another location.

Considering the pirates’ pursuit of profits and al Shabaab’s radical interpretations of Sharia, though, there is another option:  By signing on early for letters of marque to work with the African Union, some clans may be able to transition out of the sweet trade into governance.

They wouldn’t be the first pirates to come ashore to a second career…

Going on the Account: In the Doldrums…

There’s lots of things we don’t want to do in life that no matter how hard we try, we end up having to do anyway.

Like my announcing an unplanned hiatus.

I can rattle off a couple of reasons for having to come up here and say sorry, and a few of those might actually be good.  But it’s probably better to be as straightforward as any blowhard writer can muster the ability to and give it to you straight.

The big issue right now is how to wrap things up.

This isn’t to say that I don’t know how to end the novel.  I have a very definite ending, with a few crucial elements already written out and blocked in the order they should occur.  And the first few efforts to tie them together into a conclusion were tried.

And the result was, well, disappointing.  After all the build-up, all those nautical miles sailed, the end didn’t seem worth that effort.  When I cut the fat that slowed the pace, I ended up with a very short ending that was more direct than Hemmingway writing to deadline with seconds to spare, only not as good as Papa could make it, sorry.

I needed to rethink how these come together, what stays in beyond the absolute necessary, what helps pace the plot.  And to do that, I need to reef the sails, drop anchor and moor myself for a bit.

The plan right now is to go no more than a week.  If things go as they should and I can convince family and friends to give me a few moments to collect myself without distraction, I should be able to get things moving towards an ending that will make the read worth it.

I will of course keep an eye on the place, post here as necessary and reply to comments as warranted, so this ship will still have a hand on the tiller.  I will be back, with any luck no more than a week away.

After all, I can’t just leave this novel without giving you all an ending, right…?

Going on the Account: More Seas to Sail

Word came this morning of pirates seizing 12 sailors off the coast of Nigeria.  We could be looking at the start of another pirate playground with the potential to get even nastier.

Unlike pirates on the other side of Africa, who are emerging out of the ruins of a failed state to look for personal enrichment, the pirates of Nigeria may be tied to movements seeking autonomy from the central government, or at least a bigger shares of the petrodollars being collected in Abuja.  This was brought up recently in an article at ForeignPolicy.com by Bridget Coggins (thanks for the flag for this, esj!) that of all pirate movements currently at sea, the Nigerians are the only ones with a political bent to keep in mind.

Which means we could be looking at a potential civil war on the waves.   Not necessarily something new, as any student of the Confederate States Navy could point out, but one that makes dealing with the issue a bit more difficult.

Mind you, considering nascent political movements hoisting the Jolly Roger puts one in mind this weekend of a time in history when privateers were offered safe ports and retention of large percentages of their booty if they harassed enemy shipping for the upstart government.  As a result, over 2200 vessels were seized at considerable loss, most of it borne by the principal naval power of the time.

Such was the success of their efforts, that out of this came traditions and expectations that would serve their formalized successor, the United States Navy…

Historians share with financial planers the mantra about past performance being no guarantor of future returns, so who’s to say here…?