However, this nation of 9 million, mostly Islamic, people is as poor as dirt. They're a nation of thuggery and war lords. The life expectancy for men is 47 and for women - 49. Their main exports are livestock, that which hasn't starved, bananas, hides - probably from the livestock that has starved, and fish. Their main source of income seems to be fishing and piracy.
So why has it taken an act of piracy on a U.S. flagged freighter to get our attention? Or is that reason enough? Fortunately, the Captain who was being held hostage has been rescued and three of the pirates are dead thanks to the Navy Seals.
I've been listening to the reports for days now with explanations of why this has been such a delicate situation. Other than the fact we wanted to get an American out alive, I'm not convinced the explanations are entirely valid. I don't have to be an expert in the shipping business nor an international whiz kid to know that this is costing the world billions in lost cargo and ransom, not to mention the cost of insurance and other sundries too many to list.
Here, from our very own Coast Guard is as concise a description of piracy as I could find:
Because piracy is a universal crime under international law, every nation has the legal authority to establish jurisdiction over piracy and punish the offenders, regardless of nationality of the perpetrator or the victims, or of the vessels involved. This has been a basic tenet of customary international law for centuries, and is also enshrined in treaties such as the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas and the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1846 and 1851 have recently extended this authority to include acts committed within the Somali territorial sea, and have sanctioned the apprehension of suspected pirates and their supporters found ashore in Somalia.Sunday the Navy did what it should have done long ago. They eliminated the perpetrators. We're always looking for and bemoaning the lack of international cooperation when it comes to our national interests such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the conflict between the Islamic middle east and Israel. Why are we less concerned with the strife that runs rampant in countries like Somalia and the starvation and genocide running rampant in too many African nations?
Is it because we aren't "directly" affected? But we are! Think about what the shipping industry means to every nation in the world? How can we, in good conscience, turn a blind eye or a deaf ear? Consider all the ships that the pirates are holding, not to mention the crews. What's it doing to those awaiting the cargos and what's it doing to the families and loved ones of the crews? For that matter, it has to put a dent in the sum to be divvied up by the pirates when the ransoms are paid. It costs a lot to keep ships afloat, cargo's unspoiled and men alive.
The lack of comment from Obama on this particular incident was deafening. The lukewarm response from Secretary of State Clinton wasn't much better.
I'm glad this one has been resolved. Will there be another? Heck yes. As this was going on another ship had been taken. Is this not just as much an international crisis as the "possibility" the Iranians' will have nuclear capabilty all too soon or that Netanyahu, Israels' latest Prime Minister, is threatening to stop them if we don't?
This is happening now, in real time. We have the right, under international law, to act. Will we? Or will we keep the blinders on until it's another American flagged ship?