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The Pyrrhic Solution to Piracy

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In his previous post, Matt asked readers for "less cynicism and more solutions" to the Somali pirate problem. I can't provide that, unfortunately, but John Robb at Global Guerillas has a thought-provoking post in which he provides a sort of cynical solution while dismissing the most commonly floated strategies. Here's what Robb concludes:

The most commonly suggested solutions, patrols by conventional navies and nation-building, aren't the answer. Both are expensive and would be futile over the longer term. The Pyrrhic solution that will eventually be adopted is a combination of A) funded militias (Somali anti-pirates that raid pirate dens) and B) business as usual (private sector management ala the symbiosis detailed above). Might as well cut to the end game and quite the near term charade (I told this to the House Armed Services committee when I testified in early April).

Here's the testimony (pdf) Robb references. It's worth reading the entire post linked above.

On another note, (via Robb) WPR's own David Axe, who has done more reporting from and about Somalia in recent years than anyone I know, points to a silver lining for the Somali people. Ironically, Axe says, Somali pirates have succeeded in defending the fishery off Somalia's coast from foreign commercial operations that were often operating in those waters illegally, which was one of the original aims of the earlier, more benign incarnations of current pirates.

Robb predicts we are going to see "again and again" such examples of remote groups successfully disrupting the global system and taking on the more powerful actors that make it up.

Related articles from WPR:

U.S. Navy Uses 'Smart Power' to Fight Piracy

Chinese Navy Becomes Global Security Player
Kenya Strikes Legal Blow Against Piracy
East Africa's Seat of Trade Feels Piracy Pinch
No Quick Solutions to Pirate Crisis
U.S. Navy Pioneers New 'Partnership Station' Security Strategy