Monday, April 13, 2009

Piracy on The High Seas: American Defense or Corporate Bailout?

I was raised in a Navy/Merchant Marine family. Thus, I am extremely grateful that Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk ship has been returned safely to his family. I am waaaaay impressed and thankful for the skills of the Navy SEALS in dispatching the Somali pirates (3 for 3! Wow! These guys and gals are good...by the way, do they have female SEALS??? Just curious...)

But if you've read my most recent Tweet, you'll know that I am posing the question of whether we should be fighting this battle of piracy in the Sea of Aden and other Somali environs. Already in the area are EU and UN naval forces, none of which can seemingly make a dent in the pirate traffic already occurring in tremendous number. So, the question in my mind is this: do we take on yet another lawless area of the world to patrol, (e.g. Afghanistan and Iraq), or do we only intercede when Americans are at risk?

There is a third option: do we put the onus back on the corporations that obviously benefit greatly from making these runs through such dangerous waters? After all, there have been reports of shipping companies paying the ransoms demanded by the pirates. In January of this year, a Saudi-owned ship carrying 2 million barrels of crude oil worth $100 million paid a ransom of 3 million dollars. This must be seen by these shipping giants as a "cost of doing business," as it has happened repeatedly and has not, apparently, cut too horribly into corporate profits. So then, is it a fair expectation to ask the shipping corporations to arm their own ships with security guards the same way banks, also frequent victims of robberies, do? Or do we always come to the defense of American ships and personnel, no matter the cost? Is the potential threat worthy of a full naval armada? U.S. responsibility or corporate bailout, of sorts?

Honestly, I am not sure of the answer, and would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Is this a point of national pride, as in "No American shall be harmed," or is it a matter of corporate greed, as one ship can garner $100 million in profits and can afford a hefty ransom, so why shouldn't they pay for security? Please post your thoughts and opinions, my fellow Politicos...I would love to hear some healthy debate on this issue.