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The Expansionist
Sunday, April 12, 2009
 
Castrati Excuses for Not Killing Off Piracy. Jim Miklaszewski and Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News today passed along U.S. Government excuses for why our Navy and other "coalition" warships can't stop piracy off the Somali coast: there's 'a million square miles of ocean and only a few warships'. What a bunch of bullsh*t. You don't have to patrol a million square miles of ocean if the problem originates from the coast of Somalia. All you have to do is patrol or blockade the Somali coastline, which is only 1,880 miles long, including all the nooks and crannies, islands, etc. Straight-line, the coastline is only about 1,500 miles long, end to end. Moreover, not every part of the coastline is inhabited, nor serves as home base to pirates. So we really would not have to post ships end to end. We could have ships stationed at points well in from the ends of the coasts and then at convenient distances between which helicopter gunships, jet fiters, and armed drones can traverse quickly.
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But even before getting into what "coalition" warships and planes can do (and why hasn't the UN created a world-wide naval force to fite piracy, not just in the Indian Ocean but in Indonesia and elsewhere as well?) why the HELL can't we simply arm the merchant ships or place Marines and advanced artillery, missiles, and such, on the target ships? It's ABSURD and indefensible for the owners to refuse to arm their crews but insist on sailing, defenseless, thru pirate-infested waters. Anyone who does so stupid a thing deserves to be attacked. But world commerce does NOT deserve to be disrupted by piracy, so the governments of the countries in which these ships are registered should simply REQUIRE them to defend themselves or carry military protection on board. Bizarrely, I haven't heard one single word about doing any such thing in any TV news coverage of the piracy issue. Why not?
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As to fiting pirates, taking the war to them, we have GPS satellites in place that cover that area already, and might be able to train some additional military satellites specifically on the Somali coastline. Google Maps shows detail down to something like 10 feet in size. That's just satellite imagery.
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We also have drone aircraft that can serve not only as reconnaissance platforms but also as attack warplanes. They work in Pakistan and Afghanistan; they can work in Somalia.
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The modern U.S. jet-fiter can travel 900mph and has a combat radius of some 340 miles. Helicopter gunships can travel 180mph and have a range of 300 miles. Drones fly at 140mph and have a range of 460 miles. (By the way, you have no idea how difficult it is to get this information in consistent measures. Air speeds are sometimes stated in Mach decimals or miles or nautical miles (a measure that should be abolished) or kilometers, ONLY, on any given website. Absurd.)
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If the Somali Government is sincere in wanting to suppress piracy, but doesn't have control of specific areas, it can surely permit drones and such to operate from land bases within parts of Somalia the Government does control.
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Plainly, we don't have to sit passively by, just waiting for attacks and reacting. We can pre-empt the pirates and kill them in their homes, at nite, when they will not be expecting an attack and will be unable to fite back because they don't have nite-vision goggles, nor infrared sensors.
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And we really don't have to be careful about "innocent civilians", because everyone in the communities that host pirates is "in on it". They are all criminals, as either active participants in piracy or accessories before and after the fact, and thus are all part of the problem. We could perfectly well spend one week surveiling the coast and pinpointing the communities from which pirates launch their attacks, then "shock and awe" those communities out of existence. We have no obligation even to warn them first, especially if the pirates would just shift operations to another point on the coastline if we were to drop flyers on the relevant villages. I'm not even sure the villagers could read flyers if we dropped them.
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The Somali central government probably wants the piracy to stop, so we should seek to enlist its aid, at least in terms of providing intelligence. In any case, we can hold the Somali Government responsible, and tell them that if they do not have effective control over the lawless areas of coastline within their country, we will help them gain that control. We can ask/require the central government to provide us with intelligence about what spots need U.S. airstrikes — and compare that with our own intelligence, to try to avoid helping individuals in the government target their political rivals, or empowering accessories within that Government to misdirect attacks and protect pirates.
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But if the Somali Government comes back and essentially says, "There's nothing we can do", then our answer should be, "If you won't fix this, we will. And if we do it, a lot of Somalis are going to die, because we're not taking prisoners and we're not drawing fine distinctions. If locals won't end piracy by turning against the pirates and telling us whom in particular to kill, we'll just kill them all, as co-conspirators in a massive criminal enterprise all of whose participants have forfeited the right to life."
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War is complicated when you have to draw distinctions between the "innocent" and the guilty. But in all-out war, we make no such tender distinctions. We didn't nuke only the soldiers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nor worry about civilians in Berlin. We dropped bombs intending to kill as many of "the enemy" as possible. If the whole of the population of coastal Somalia involved in piracy is simply presumed guilty, we don't need to use "surgical" airstrikes, and we sure as hell don't have to risk our soldiers' lives in a ground invasion, nor try to arrest pirates and bring them to trial. That's an insane and absurd waste of time and sympathy. Just kill them all.
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Thomas Jefferson sent the Marines to end Mediterranean piracy. That's the whole "shores of Tripoli" thing in the Marines Hymn. Jefferson didn't have jet fiters, helicopter gunships, or drone attack aircraft to suppress the Barbary Pirates, but suppress them he did. Can we do less?
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,272 — for Israel.)



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