Sunday, April 12, 2009

Arrgh, Me Mateys (UPDATED)

by Armadillo Joe

(h/t C&L)

At The Independent UK, a short article about the living hell that is life in Somalia. Shall we travel in the Way-Back Machine to 1993? Remember, shall we, that the U.S. military used to be in there with some serious firepower and we left with our tail between our legs, in a classic David versus Goliath tale. "Blackhawk Down" anyone?

Because they had no petroleum resources to comandeer, we simply left that country shattered, broken and flat on its back with no government to speak of, just like we did in Afghanistan after the Soviets left in the late 1980's.

In the intelligence trade, they call it "blowback."

On September 11, 2001 we paid a price for that neglect of Afghanistan. Today, we pay the price for abandoning 9 million people to starvation and anarchy in Somalia. Unlike Afghanistan, Somalia is resource-rich with her oceans and a coastline with greater access to the world's commerce via pirate attacks on the world's shipping. Current-day Somalia is a territory with no functioning government, the nearest thing to a Hobbesian Bellum omnium contra omnes we have anywhere on the planet today, and that anarchic territory overlaps a thousand plus miles of African coastline right at the Horn of Africa, the principle sea-lane for 20% of the world's oil supply.

European & Asian nations have been taking advantage of the lack of any government to defend and protect Somali waters to trawl them virtually empty of sealife -- starving the people on land -- and furthermore to dump toxic waste, including spent nuclear fuel:
In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore.


...also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury...


Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply.
Those pirates aren't just greedy thugs. They are desperate men with sick and starving families hitting back at the only target they can because we have been the greedy thugs. Using the mafia as a conduit for disposing of toxic waste? That is about as bad as it gets, if you ask me.

Let us look to ourselves and get the whole story about what is really happening in Somalia before we condemn these desperate and starving men as mere criminals.

Three of the four pirates are dead and the American captain is safely in U.S. Navy custody, presumably due to a lightning SEAL-raid on the lifeboat, a'la the French method, because those frogs are such wimpy, cheese-eating surrender-monkeys, doncha-know?


Annette said...

And how many millions have they gotten in the last few years.. what are they doing with those millions.. are they trying to help their fellow country men or are they just using it to line the pockets of the few or drinking it up or what.. sorry I can't feel for the criminals in them if they aren't really trying to help themselves with the ill gotten gains.

Armadillo Hussein Joe said...

I'm not arguing that these men are heroic Robin Hoods romantically striking a blow for their suffering countrymen. But for them to be "criminals" would mean they actively chose not be subject to the laws and customs which bind us all. Instead, their whole so-called country has been more of an anarchic swamp, a victim of our criminal behavior and these men are simply responding according their own self-interest in a war of all against all -- the definition of Hobbes' state of Man in Nature.

The main thrust of my argument is that these men are angry and desperate and that we, the wealthy nations of the world, are responsible for not only allowing the creation of the violent, anarchic milieu where these types of men can flourish, but of making it immeasurably worse with our own actions. That symbols of our wealth, power and prosperity sail within sight of the suffering and death on their coastline only makes our crimes of neglect and abuse over the last 20 years all the more poignant.

I think it is sanctimonious and irresponsible to dismiss them as mere criminals for angrily striking out against us when we have emptied their waters of food and replaced it with toxic waste. That many or even most of them don't share their ill-gotten gains with their countrymen doesn't excuse our neglect and exploitation which not only drove them to act in the first place, but created the type of place where they could act, with impunity, for long enough to reach the strength and numbers they have today.

What they do violates our laws, sure, but what about what we've done to them? You can't starve a man and then punish him for stealing bread.

Broadway Carl said...

But for them to be "criminals" would mean they actively chose not be subject to the laws and customs which bind us all.

Joe, I would argue that that's what they did by becoming pirates. They actively chose not to be subject to the laws and customs which bind us all.

Had their endgame been to point out what you have in your post instead of demanding ransom (which seems to be the case in all their hijackings) then I can see your point. But I feel that justfying piracy because of their incredibly horrible lot in life ("Those pirates aren't just greedy thugs...") is over the top.

Broadway Carl said...

Adding... by that logic, the teabaggers have a right to become lawless thugs on April 15th because they feel threatened and in danger. They're fighting for the rights they believe are being taken away from them.

Those teabaggers aren't just blind Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh followers, they're hitting back at the only target they can because the government has forced them to defend their rights.

Armadillo Hussein Joe said...

B'way Carl, the "which bind us all" is the key passage in my argument that these men are not really criminals. When wealthy European nations have taken advantage of the Somali government's inability to defend its own borders to violate international law by dumping toxic waste in Somali waters and fishing Somali waters empty of sealife to put fish on plates in Rome, London and Paris, what are their options? Nobly sit and starve while they die of radiation poisoning?

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. These people have never seen the international community do anything except abandon their country to the warlords when the going got tough, so No, they don't have a whole lot cause for respect for international law which should bind us all, but clearly doesn't.

As for the teabaggers, well, I think it is intellectually dishonest to apply my desperation argument to a bunch of dimwit yahoos artificially whipped into a frenzy by greedy corporate overlords when their lives are not directly threatened in any way whatsoever. Their manufactured perception of a vague "threat" in no way compares to the actual threat of leaking barrels of toxic waste and lifeless oceans.