Smart Power III: Let’s keep pirates from buying boats

posted at 10:54 am on April 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

How can we tell that the American policy on piracy is in disarray?  Even the AP reports that Hillary Clinton’s announcement of measures against Somali pirates is stopgap and intended to mollify people while the new administration gets up to speed (via QandO):

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday the Obama administration will take the unusual step of trying to seize pirate financial assets and property, as it works with shippers to thwart hijackers off the coast of Somalia.

The measures outlined by Clinton, part of a new U.S. diplomatic initiative to thwart sea piracy, are largely stopgap and symbolic moves while officials weigh more comprehensive diplomatic and military action.

Mostly, though, we can tell from the notion that the US can seize assets so that the pirates won’t have money to buy new boats:

“These pirates are criminals, they are armed gangs on the sea. And those plotting attacks must be stopped,” she said. “We may be dealing with a 17th-century crime, but we need to bring 21st-century solutions to bear.”

Clinton acknowledged difficulties ahead in Treasury efforts to locate pirate assets. But she wants the U.S. and others to “explore ways to track and freeze” pirate ransom money and other funds used in purchases of new boats, weapons and communications equipment.

Purchase equipment?  Uh, sure.  Pirates are well known for getting invoices and receipts for tax purposes, too.  As others pointed out to Matthew Lee, pirates don’t use formal banking systems or marketplaces for their financial transactions.  Mostly they just steal what they need, and buy the rest through black-market channels.

I’d give the new administration more time to get their footing, except that both the President and Vice President served on committees in the Senate that had oversight on this very problem.  In this particular realm of foreign policy, they should be experienced.  Unfortunately, neither of them attended the meetings on Somalia and piracy at the Subcommittee on African Affairs over the last three years.  And it shows.

The solution to piracy is the same in the 21st century as it was in the 19th century.  Sink their ships without warning, destroy their bases of operation, and never negotiate except to accept their unconditional surrender as opposed to killing them the way the SEALs did this weekend.  Everything has a cost-benefit threshold; when pirates don’t make money and start dying in large numbers, fewer people will want to become pirates.

I’d offer one more solution as a parallel, suggested by a Hot Air reader earlier this week.  The US Navy should buy or lease some smaller container ships as decoys and sail them through the Gulf of Aden, only with fully-armed commandos on board.  When pirates start discovering that some American-flagged ships are fakes bristling with death, they’ll think twice about approaching any other American-flagged ship again.


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what’s the matter Getalife, got a tea bag in your mouth?

Seven Percent Solution on April 16, 2009 at 11:54 AM

Come on 7% that is really beyond the pale!

(everyone knows she’s more of a Dirty Sanchez kind of gal)

John D on April 16, 2009 at 11:59 AM

[aide] But, Sec. Clintoon… What about the law abiding Somalis that depend upon these fishing vessels to feed their families? And, what if by doing this it jeopardizes those law abiding citizen’s safety and makes them targets of theft or even murder? And…[/aide]

[Clintoon] Call Napolitano. We have a right-wing extremist in the state department.[/Clintoon]

Claypigeon on April 16, 2009 at 12:00 PM

The trolls were called to an emergency meeting this morning… they realize the media was lying about the Tea Parties being organized by the GOP and are trying to figure out how they failed to make us see the Divinity of the One.

petunia on April 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM

Decoy ships? You mean ships shaped like sitting ducks? That’s dumb.

Akzed on April 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM

I’m sure they more than qualify for Fannie Mae to lend them the money.

Those poor, underprivileged, people!

DamnYankee on April 16, 2009 at 12:06 PM

Next Obama and Clinton will ban all:
-eye patches,
-parrots that sit on shoulders,
-wooden legs,
-planks (as in “walking the plank”),
-hook hands and
-singing of the song “Yo,ho,ho,ho a Pirate’s Life for Me”.

albill on April 16, 2009 at 12:07 PM

Who put the suggestion box in the kindergarten class? I can’t believe supposedly experienced adults thought this up. By definition, pirates *steal* things.

On the other hand, it does fit with what I’ve observed about these people. How many times did Clinton yank the rug out from under the Republican Congress after they thought they had a deal with him? And after Jimmy Carter’s four disastrous years, you’d think the left would have realized that this sort of silly stuff doesn’t work with people that operate outside the law. Our “wizards of smart,” as Rush calls them, never seem to learn anything useful.

hachiban on April 16, 2009 at 12:07 PM

… What about the law abiding Somalis that depend upon these fishing vessels to feed their families?
Claypigeon on April 16, 2009 at 12:00 PM

If you outlaw boats, only outlaws will have boats.

logis on April 16, 2009 at 12:10 PM

Adam Ghadahn is chuckling to his fat self.

Ya Allah! These dumb Amrikiyeen! Fine! Let them prevent our Muslim brothers from buying boats. We will just build them! Hahhahahaha! Mash’allah!

blatantblue on April 16, 2009 at 12:10 PM

very simple, establish a kill zone around all ships and give our seals some target practice, they would appreciate the training time.

workingforpigs on April 16, 2009 at 12:11 PM

Decoy ships? You mean ships shaped like sitting ducks? That’s dumb.

Akzed on April 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM

But then all you need is a gun and a good dog to retrieve the pirates! It’s a brilliant plan!

petunia on April 16, 2009 at 12:13 PM

petunia on April 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM

The trolls are quiet this morning.

Their exercise in projection didn’t pan out so well yesterday.

lorien1973 on April 16, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Go for the nuclear option.

Send in the Auditors!

TexAz on April 16, 2009 at 12:16 PM

Their exercise in projection didn’t pan out so well yesterday.

lorien1973 on April 16, 2009 at 12:14 PM

I was impressed for a second, with their coordinated strikes on various threads.

for a second.

blatantblue on April 16, 2009 at 12:16 PM

Go for the nuclear option.

Send in the Auditors!

TexAz on April 16, 2009 at 12:16

That is very 21st century!

petunia on April 16, 2009 at 12:18 PM

I like the reader suggestion, too, but Obama will never do it. It’s too (sniff, sniff) mean! The ACLU would accuse them of entrapment.

PattyJ on April 16, 2009 at 12:18 PM

Clinton acknowledged difficulties ahead in Treasury efforts to locate pirate assets.

I can hardly wait for the first Treasury auction of siezed parrots, eye patches, peglegs and treasure maps.

Cicero43 on April 16, 2009 at 12:24 PM

It’s really quite obvious….tell Obama that the Pirates farts are conrtibuting to global warming. Heck, he’d probably nuke those lifeboats then.

Huckabye-Romney on April 16, 2009 at 12:25 PM

“We may be dealing with a 17th-century crime, but we need to bring 21st-century solutions to bear.”

The MOAB is a 21st-century solution….

Ok, it’s overkill for the boats (a traditional fuel-air bomb is plenty for those) but for the pirate ports it would be very efficient – just one drop’ll do ya!

I’m thinking that the locals would pretty quickly make the association with “American ship bothered” and “pillar of fire on sea / land”. Even non-radioactive mushroom clouds get attention.

KCSteve on April 16, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Cicero43 on April 16, 2009 at 12:24 PM

The “Treasure Island” hotel in Vegas is probably being raided as we speak…

coldwarrior on April 16, 2009 at 12:28 PM

I like the reader suggestion, too, but Obama will never do it. It’s too (sniff, sniff) mean! The ACLU would accuse them of entrapment.
PattyJ on April 16, 2009 at 12:18 PM

I can hear the argument now: “So, knowing full well that pirates only want to atack UNARMED vessels, you intentionally deceived them into attacking yours instead?”

logis on April 16, 2009 at 12:29 PM

Clinton acknowledged difficulties ahead in Treasury efforts to locate pirate assets.

I’ll say. Tracking dhows with very low radar cross sections on the high seas is no small feat.

Otis B on April 16, 2009 at 12:30 PM

when pirates don’t make money and start dying in large numbers, fewer people will want to become pirates.

But… but… but we must capture the hearts and minds of these people, these disadvantaged minority yutes.

petefrt on April 16, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Clinton acknowledged difficulties ahead in Treasury efforts to locate pirate assets.

Aw, come on Hill… don’t ya watch the movies….

First ya get a map… then…

Romeo13 on April 16, 2009 at 12:33 PM

petefrt on April 16, 2009 at 12:32 PM

If we properly apply naval force in the region, we can gather up a lot of their hearts. Scrapping together pieces of their minds might be a rather disgusting task, though.

coldwarrior on April 16, 2009 at 12:33 PM

“We may be dealing with a 17th-century crime, but we need to bring 21st-century solutions to bear.”

The 19th century solutions of Presidents Jefferson and Madison have proven far more effective than Obama’s 21st century smoke and mirrors.

Loxodonta on April 16, 2009 at 12:34 PM

Financial assets, what assets… clay jars filled with Khat?

MNDavenotPC on April 16, 2009 at 12:38 PM

Financial assets, what assets… clay jars filled with Khat?

MNDavenotPC on April 16, 2009 at 12:38 PM

Garrrggghh… no matey… She’s lookin fer dat Buried Treasure… got a map showin the location of buried Shah Abdul FullOBull’s legendary treasure…

Romeo13 on April 16, 2009 at 12:42 PM

If we properly apply naval force in the region, we can gather up a lot of their hearts.
coldwarrior on April 16, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Yes! Wasn’t it Patton who said, if we grab them by their balls, their hearts will soon follow.

petefrt on April 16, 2009 at 12:42 PM

petefrt on April 16, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Ah, yes, the vice-grips method of war/negotiation. Not sure if Patton made that comment, but it certainly is in the spirit of the Old General.

coldwarrior on April 16, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Yes, and block any attempts by the pirates in obtaining ship registries and insurance.

You go, Girl!

(friggin knuckleheads…)

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 16, 2009 at 12:53 PM

Start making some of these pirates dead, then others might be less inclined be pirates. Send in some seal teams by submarine and let these pirates wake up dead.

SC.Charlie on April 16, 2009 at 12:56 PM

the Obama administration will take the unusual step of trying to seize pirate financial assets and property, as it works with shippers to thwart hijackers off the coast of Somalia.

THEY ARE NOT CRIMINALS. OMG is she an idiot. Being a shrew and a harridan is not enough. She’s as dumb as a post also.

dogsoldier on April 16, 2009 at 1:01 PM

The US Navy should buy or lease some smaller container ships as decoys and sail them through the Gulf of Aden, only with fully-armed commandos on board. When pirates start discovering that some American-flagged ships are fakes bristling with death, they’ll think twice about approaching any other American-flagged ship again.

We can’t do this. It would be unfair to the so-called pirates, who are really just African Coast Guard. It would also be racist, or something.

Sincerely,

Andrea Mitchell

Mike D. on April 16, 2009 at 1:01 PM

Oh and for the record, Pirate and terrorists have their own special category madam dumbass. They are enemies of humanity. I know you have a tough time with all those great big words an all..

dogsoldier on April 16, 2009 at 1:02 PM

It’s really quite obvious….tell Obama that the Pirates farts are conrtibuting to global warming. Heck, he’d probably nuke those lifeboats then.

Huckabye-Romney on April 16, 2009 at 12:25 PM

If we properly apply naval force in the region, we can gather up a lot of their hearts. Scrapping together pieces of their minds might be a rather disgusting task, though.

coldwarrior on April 16, 2009 at 12:33 PM

I managed to get my monitor cleaned off after the first comment only to need to complete the chore again!

I love snark done right.

ladyingray on April 16, 2009 at 1:15 PM

logis on April 16, 2009 at 12:10 PM

This sounds familiar… ;-)

Claypigeon on April 16, 2009 at 1:17 PM

Brilliant strategy. Announce to the world what you’re going to do ahead of time so the pirates have time to move their assets elsewhere where you can’t touch them.

Socratease on April 16, 2009 at 1:30 PM

Clinton acknowledged difficulties ahead in Treasury efforts to locate pirate assets.
Aw, come on Hill… don’t ya watch the movies….

First ya get a map… then…

Romeo13 on April 16, 2009 at 12:33 PM

I hear you don’t have to use the Treasury they sell those maps to tourists in Florida.

petunia on April 16, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Brilliant strategy. Announce to the world what you’re going to do ahead of time so the pirates have time to move their assets elsewhere where you can’t touch them.

Socratease on April 16, 2009 at 1:30 PM

They always bury them under the X.

petunia on April 16, 2009 at 1:35 PM

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday the Obama administration will take the unusual step of trying to seize pirate financial assets and property, as it works with shippers to thwart hijackers off the coast of Somalia.

And she’ll do it all while dodging sniper fire at the airport! Freakin douchebag!

TrickyDick on April 16, 2009 at 1:43 PM

How could we freeze the assets of the volunteer Somali Coast Guard? That would endanger Somali shipping wouldn’t it?

eaglewingz08 on April 16, 2009 at 1:57 PM

The solution to piracy is the same in the 21st century as it was in the 19th century.

In some ways.

However, sharks with laser beams have only been possible since the late 20th century.

reaganaut on April 16, 2009 at 1:59 PM

1. Contact Somoli IRS
2. Make note of all those who list “pirate” as occupation on their taxes
3. Freeze their accounts
4. Problem solved!

/I sure hope she doesn’t upset the pirate unions…

shibumi on April 16, 2009 at 2:04 PM

shibumi on April 16, 2009 at 2:04 PM

Pirates? Unions? What’s the difference? Boats? :-)

coldwarrior on April 16, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Pirates? Unions? What’s the difference?

coldwarrior on April 16, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Guns?

Count to 10 on April 16, 2009 at 2:13 PM

Adding a good doss of risk can have have great effect on behavior, but only if the consequences are suitably lethal.
Anybody for code naming a new set of Q-ships “Jaws”?
“Dun-Dun, Dun-Dun, Dun-Dun, DA!”

Count to 10 on April 16, 2009 at 2:17 PM

Freeze their money? What they have Swiss bank accounts now?

- The Cat

MirCat on April 16, 2009 at 2:23 PM

There’s a great scene in the movie “Hook” that relates to this:

Peter (Robin Williams) is now a grown up lawyer. Comes back to Neverland to rescue his children, who were kidnapped by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman).

When Peter (Williams) first meets Hook, he immediately starts writing a check to pay Hook to release his kids. Hook laughs, pulls out his pistol and shoots a hole right through the checkbook.

It’s a great metaphor for liberal fantasy thinking vs. the real world.

ZenDraken on April 16, 2009 at 2:36 PM

When Peter (Williams) first meets Hook, he immediately starts writing a check to pay Hook to release his kids. Hook laughs, pulls out his pistol and shoots a hole right through the checkbook.

It’s a great metaphor for liberal fantasy thinking vs. the real world.

ZenDraken on April 16, 2009 at 2:36 PM

True, and I guaran-damn-tee that offering the pirates money is on the table in Zero’s administration.

Maquis on April 16, 2009 at 2:52 PM

This is just like them…”pirates don’t commit piracy, pirate boats do…I mean, how can piracy exist without pirate boats?”. I suppose we could go down this road further and start suing boat builders. This all sounds familiar, somehow though.

AUINSC on April 16, 2009 at 3:34 PM

AUINSC on April 16, 2009 at 3:34 PM

The State Department, DoD, Justice, Commerce and Homeland Security, at the direction of the ODNI, have set up a commission to study dual-use technologies and pirates, and how to prevent pirates from using fishing boats to commit acts of piracy, and whether or not those GPS thingies some have been seen carrying are for watercraft safety or to zero in on potential victims. Other questions abound. The Commission is to provide its findings to appropriate Congressional oversight committees sometime this Fall.

(Yes…./s )

:-)

coldwarrior on April 16, 2009 at 3:40 PM

“Let’s keep pirates from buying boats”

I have a better idea, Mrs. Clinton. Let’s make piracy illegal! That’ll stop them for sure.

Kevin M on April 16, 2009 at 5:55 PM

The best way to prevent pirates from buying boats is to remove said pirates.

Am I being too simple, again?

OldEnglish on April 16, 2009 at 7:23 PM

Well I think your SOS, none other than the dumb Hillary Rodham Clinton has been using facebook and has been playing Pirates of the Carribean. I wonder what user name :)

It is the only place where a pirate can bury his/her treasure and to buy weapons and boats. Real pirates steal those items.

It goes to show that the SOS has not a clue about this problem that has been occurring for a very long time. The mother ships have been stolen from other nations. The ransom money has been going to the Islamists in Somalia. It is probable that they have been using the money to buy weapons to use to kill defenceless Somali citizens as they try to make Somalia another Sharia state. The balance is probably going to Islamists elsewhere.

We have the wrong measures when it comes to poverty. These people live in primitive conditions, but that does not mean that they are poor.

They are bandits, thugs and yes murderers. They are pirates and they will kill those they have taken hostage.

They managed to capture an arms shipment last year. I am not certain what happened to the ship and its contents.

Hillary and her boss are such idiots.

maggieo on April 16, 2009 at 9:32 PM

Under the Bush administration, it took underhanded leakers to sabotage programs that attacked the assets of terrorists by warning the targets.

The Obama administration has “in-sourced” this task!

Merovign on April 16, 2009 at 10:18 PM

Decoy ships? You mean ships shaped like sitting ducks? That’s dumb.

Akzed on April 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM

you did not say that outloud did you.you need to put away the bong.troll

lees on April 17, 2009 at 10:53 AM

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