Wising-up about pirates: Why force will fail
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:
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.
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