The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Wising-up about pirates: Why force will fail

with 4 comments

The world cheered last week when US Navy sharpshooters felled three Somalian pirates in an instant, liberating the captain of the Maersk Alabama.  Millions celebrated Capt. Phillips’ freedom.

Wonderful as it is that Phillips is free, the overall situation has been made worse.  At the price of millions of American dollars, three young Somalians are dead and one American captain free.  Other Somalians have vowed revenge, promising that future hijackings (which had been mostly bloodless) will quickly become more violent.

TV plots preach that the right folks with the right firepower actually do solve problems.  It almost never happens in real life.  Violence douses a momentary flare-up and pours gasoline on the conflict that caused it.  Off the coast of Somalia?  One captain rescued; ten thousand potential pirates enraged.

The answer surely lies in asking the right question:  Why are those young men pirates? Indeed, why are bands of young men sources of violence all around the world?  Patt Cottingham writes a thought-provoking summary:

clipped from

For any one with eyes wide open there is a root pattern going on here globally. Young males who have been brought up in an atmosphere of failed states, violence, a feeling of powerlessness, no hope for the future, and who have no anticipation about living very long, become fearless […]

Look around and you see them off the coast of Somalia, in Hamas, in Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, in Palestine, Afghanistan, Africa, Pakistan, India, in Mexican drug cartels, in gangs on the streets of LA, and in jails across the United States. […]
[Y]ou will hear phrases like just blow them up, obliterate them, wipe them out, kill them all, and other declarations of force and bravado. This knee jerk reaction is a global failure that leaves the question still unanswered as to what can be done to change this […]
Isn’t it far wiser to begin to set a course to address the root causes of this? […]
Goodbye to military force as the answer to snuff out young male insurgents.
Hello to the will to get to the root causes of young male insurgents.
Goodbye to the thinking that rogue terror gangs don’t affect us […]
Goodbye to seeing young men with guns and no value for life as worthless.
Hello to seeing young men with guns and no value for life worth our redemption […]

blog it

Not much glam, not many thrills, not many political points scored by addressing the real stuff. But if we spent a tenth as much time and effort on avoiding problems as we do shooting our way out of them, we’d get a lot more bang for the buck.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Ahh, the myth of redemptive violence raises it’s deceptive head once again.

    Donnie Miller

    April 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm

  2. Hey Monte, I am not sure it is fair to lump these pirates with the insurgents typically seen in places like the middle east. Their end goal is completely different. People like the suicide bombers are told they are doing something noble and going to a place with a lot of virgins. Their end goal is to die and take as many people with them.

    The pirates on the other hand were simply thieves wanting to get some loot. They had no ideology or higher calling and they probably wanted to get out alive. Furthermore, their death is likely not going to be a call to arms for other thieves on the high seas. I believe that the opposite is quite true. We are not talking about a large group of people who are bonded by an ideology that glorifies martyrdom, but a group of thieves. Sure there is going to be some talk of revenge but if your motivation is simply to score some money then I think you would think twice now considering that a Navy sharpshooter just needs to get within a mile of you.


    April 21, 2009 at 11:48 am

    • Hey Amos – I see your point, but I think their motives are quite a lot more complicated than it seems. I don’t think they are “simply thieves taking loot.” My hunch is the story is hard to find amidst the US media’s tale of glory and the US Navy’s chronic obfuscation. Let me dig around a bit … more later.


      April 21, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: