The problem of piracy off Somalia can be contained by purely military means
The US defence department spokesman has contended that “you could have all the navies in the world having all their ships out there, you know, it’s not going to ever solve this problem…It requires a holistic approach from the international community at sea, ashore, with governance, with economic development.”
That’s a fashionable thing to say these days. And it’s true in places like Iraq and Afghanistan where the US armed forces are fighting a counter-insurgency war.
The situation off the Somalian coast is different. A long-running civil war in that country has resulted in anarchy, which in turn has allowed the unchecked growth of sea-borne piracy in the waters off its coast. Piracy can be contained without necessarily having to stabilise Somalia.
It is possible to tackle piracy by purely military means. If the world’s navies devote an adequate amount of assets to the problem, and equip their commanders with the adequate rules of engagement, piracy can be stamped out. For if budding pirates notice that nine out of ten pirates don’t make it back from their first voyage, they might turn to other vocations—perhaps even warlordism and armed robbery on land. While Somalia’s problems won’t go away, they won’t directly threaten the world’s seaborne trade.
Solving Somalia’s problems does need a holistic approach. Solving the piracy problem, however, does not. But the US navy’s reluctance to take a more forceful stand against Somali pirates is intriguing.
8 thoughts on “Questioning the holistic approach”
Sounds a bit ruthless, doesn’t it?
Maybe Indian businesses, with the help of the Indian navy should set up shop in Somalia and help them rather than exploit them. India’s growing investment in Africa can be a positive force for social change rather than simply a business venture.
Sounds a bit ruthless, doesn’t it?
Well, yes. That’s the general idea. I’m advocating ruthlessness against pirates, not schoolteachers.
Setting up shop under military protection? Perhaps, but why choose Somalia? There are plenty of places where Indian businesses can do business and in doing so, effect social change, without having to do all this at gunpoint. I think ruthless suppression of piracy will do just fine, for the moment.
No, it’s not possible to contain piracy by purely military means, as the pirates will simply get more creative and ruthless, like Taliban has.
What about the prospect of retaliation against Indian sailors in particular, since they sail under a wide variety of national flags.
What happens when pirates begin grabbing Indian sailors willynilly, to shanghai them back to Mogadishu, to demand ransom from the Indian govt? If the hijacking of flight 814 could bring the Indian govt to its knees, I don’t see New Delhi having the spine to stand firm when Indian sailors are hijacked. And you know their clamouring relatives will be wailing outside parliament, like they shamelessly did with 814.
India should be wary of becoming a beast of burden for a world which isn’t giving it due recognition thru a security council seat.
China meanwhile is laughing all the way to the bank, as it sells arms to these very warlords and miscreants who are increasingly branching out into piracy. Should we be stuck as the janitor cleaning up the mess others have made?
We should conserve our energies towards protecting our own ships and no others. We should put the word out that attacks on Indian shipping will be met with deadly force, and that any would-be pirates should divert towards easier pickings instead.
@Sanjay the troll,
Dude, relax. Get over that kiddish fixation with the UNSC seat that seems to animate all your comments. Too much of UPA style seat allocation heartburns .
Udayan, I’m not being a troll, I’m just not in favour of being a doormat or a mule. Obviously you favour that, since my remarks get your goat.
There’s nothing wrong in subtly but persistently demanding quid pro quo. Others do it, and so should we. It’s no good to be a nice guy who finishes last.
Again, there seems to be little thought to the quarrels we may get ourselves mired in, by doing all these free favours. China advances its interests in Africa through arms sales, while we may end up stirring grudges in Africa against ourselves, for no real benefit.
As I’ve said, India should protect Indian shipping, and let the others fend for themselves. If they want protection, they can get it on their own dime.
“What happens when pirates begin grabbing Indian sailors willynilly,”
“We should put the word out that attacks on Indian shipping will be met with deadly force, and that any would-be pirates should divert towards easier pickings instead.”
—Make up mind buddy, whether our sailors are a bunch of pussycats or sea sharks..
“China meanwhile is laughing all the way to the bank, as it sells arms to these very warlords and miscreants who are increasingly branching out into piracy.”
—if we have to stoop so low then we also have a big enough indigenous market, what say, huh?
“And you know their clamouring relatives will be wailing outside parliament, like they shamelessly did with 814.”
—OH! so what discretion would a ‘honourable’ person like you would have suggested to these ordinary ‘shameless’ people after waiting for eight days of procrastination by the Politicians?
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