Safeguarding the Seaways From Piracy

Posted by David McKeeby
May 26, 2009
U.S. Navy Ship Tows Lifeboat After Rescue From Pirates

About the Author: David McKeeby is a Public Affairs Specialist in the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

U.S. diplomatic leadership in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and stepped up international naval patrols are making a positive difference in the waters off the Horn of Africa, resulting in an increasing number of successful interdictions and prosecutions of pirates prowling the region.

On May 29, representatives from the Contact Group’s 28 participating countries and six international organizations (the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union, the International Maritime Organization, NATO, and the UN Secretariat) will meet at the United Nations in New York City to build on international progress against piracy, which continues to threaten global shipping traffic and humanitarian aid deliveries transiting the region.

“We may be dealing with a 17th century crime,” Secretary Clinton said, following the rescue of the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama,” but we need to bring 21st century solutions to bear.”

Just how multinational is this 21st century effort to suppress modern-day piracy? Consider this: when a Greek-owned, Egyptian-flagged vessel recently came under attack south of Yemen, South Korean destroyer Munmu the Great from Combined Task Force 151 came to the rescue, joined by flagship USS Gettysburg and the force’s commander, Turkish Rear Admiral Caner Bener, detaining 17 Somali suspects. Created by the U.S. Navy to confront piracy, the force has also included naval personnel from the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece, Pakistan, and Singapore.

In all, around 20 countries have sent naval vessels to join in the international patrols against piracy. The United States is not only working closely with NATO and European Union allies; we also hope to build on new maritime security partnerships with China, India, and Russia, which have also joined in the counter-piracy effort.

Since January 2009, over 300 individuals suspected of engaging in piracy have been captured in the waters off the Horn of Africa. Approximately 200 of these suspects are currently the subject of criminal investigations or proceedings in Kenya, the Puntland region, Yemen, France, the Seychelles, the Netherlands, and the United States.

In New York, Contact Group members will continue to discuss the many challenges remaining ahead. How can the Contact Group stem the overall rise in pirate attacks, which are currently on track to be double the number of incidents in 2008? How can partners in the shipping industry best minimize their vulnerability to piracy? How can states affected by piracy fulfill their responsibility to bring suspected pirates to justice?

And not far from anyone’s mind will be the fact that 14 ships and over 200 crew members from the Philippines, China, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, and several other nations currently remain in pirate custody.

Comments

Comments

Behar G.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
May 26, 2009

Behar G. in Washington, DC writes:

Besides the illgal dumping of toxic waste products on Somali shores, much of the problems associated with the root causes of piracy could have been prevented had the internatioanl community addressed the illegal fishing in Somalian waters by western companies that have take an estiamted $300 million a year from Somali fishmerman, whereas pirating made the Somalis about $100 million. (Somalia is often considered to be a failed state with no navy of its own to protect its waters) And those arguing for the Somali case do admit that there are pirates who are simply gangsters, particularly in West Africa, but piracy is not a new phenomenon. Somali pirates have been active since the early 90s, and its pretty pathetic that the only time the international community will scream bloody murder is when piracy threatens trade in one of the busiest trade routes in the world, a route that is busier than the suez and panal canal combined.

There's a reason why 70% of Somali citizens support these pirates: because they bring with them revenue to spend in Somali markets so that average somalis are now making money too. No one cared when fisherman were losing their livelihood or when the Somali economy continued to spiral downwards forcing its citizens to live below subhuman conditions... but now that Somalis are acting out we're going to label them as the bad guys because they're threatening our livelihood. Yes, it's politics, but it's in the interest of the international community to address the root cause of the problem in most cases: economic injustice caused by the backlash of globalization in these areas. I'm not against globalization in all its forms, but if there isnt a more humane face to it, things will not improve.

Theres a really good article that was written last year by Mohamed Abshir Waldo called "The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the world ignores the Other" that might be a good read. They've got some interviews with him on youtube too. One of the most famous articles arguing for the Somali case was written by Johan Hari, and at the end he writes the following about a pirate who was captured and brought to Alexander the Great: "[Alexander the Great] demanded to know "what he meant by keeping possession of the sea." The pirate smiled, and responded: "What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor."

Finally, all the solutions to piracy have focused on helping every country but the country plagued with it. There have been talks about perhaps arming those on board ships, or having the navy escort some ships, etc. but no one has said anything about the things that not only drive people to piracy but the things that drive people to support those who choose piracy. No one has said, "well now we have to figure out the source of these toxic waste products and penalize the countries involved" or "we have to prosecute those who illegally fish in Somali waters", it's all about keeping the market in check and protecting the Gulf of Aden. Some Somalis don't even see themselves as pirates, calling themselves, "the national volunteer coast guard." It's not like there's been an effort to combat the root cause of the problem, economic injustice, and until there is, it looks like we're going to have to continue putting band-aids on gashes like piracy in the Horn of Africa. It's just sad that it took piracy, and not decades worth of disease, starvation, and war, to put the spotlight back on Somalia.

David
|
Massachusetts, USA
May 26, 2009

David in Massachusetts writes:

Please allow me to Subscribe

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 26, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Behar G., That's an eloquent defense of the indefensable, but is still no reason to conclude that two wrongs make it right.

And what about all the "toxic human waste" al-quaida has dumped in Somalia that has fueled the troubles and terrorism there for so long, eh?

"bin laden's navy" has held Somali fishermen captive, but you don't mention this little fact either.

Nor a single mention of the Somali president's own remarks regarding the threat to his nation's stability the pirates represent.

Or the recent decision by a major group of pirates to abandon the practice as being against Islamic law.

Fact is, if Somali soveriegn rights were being violated as you suggest, there's ample fora to properly address these issues under international law.

Nice try, but your argument won't fly very far when faced with the facts.

Helen
|
Pennsylvania, USA
May 27, 2009

Helen in Pennsylvania writes:

Somilia has been lawless for so long that people are suffering. I think that this is going to continue to be a problem. We need to protect our ships and people.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 27, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

"On Saturday, a U.S. guided missile destroyer rescued a group of 52 Somali men women and children -- including a woman who was eight months pregnant -- who had been stranded aboard a small skiff for nearly a week off Somalia's coast, the U.S. Navy said." - CNN

They were adrift at sea because it is an absolute "nightmare" on land, according to the UN.

Right about now, the U.S.A. has a golden opportunity to do something very right on the scale of the tsunami relief effort.

That "something" is to simply evacuate as many Somali civilians out of the Mogadishu area ASAP. Thousands are homeless due to the fighting.

Park a hospital ship offshore, and save some lives till the international community figures out what to do about this mess in totality.

No leader of a stuggling nation should ever have to beg the family of nations for help against al-quaida and co., but Somalia's leader has done so, and I think we ought to give it to him....as of yesterday.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
May 27, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

ANCHORS AWEIGH AND FULL SPEED AHEAD!

I'm Glad to see our U.S. Navy involved in removing the piracy problems. The mission of the Navy is to keep the sealanes open allowing valuable logistics from any country in the world reaching it's destination safely! There are no excuses when it comes to human life or we were too late! Try to explain that to someones loved one? The bottom line is the United States needs to have a greater combat force to match the pirates to prevent the loss of valuable cargo and crew. The U.S. Navy can answer that call... We had the motto "Wooden ships and Iron men sailed the open seas"

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
May 27, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

I still feel like International Laws need be altered to allow Private firms to hire PROFESSIONAL Security teams. There are now ample teams available who can carry the necessary equipment to deal with direct threats to Private shipping as they occur.

It is not the responsibility of the US to monotor all privite shipping lanes...the UN should be footing the bill for this. It is not FREE...

Since most people captured are not really prosecuted, or are better off in a prison of any civilized country, there is no reason for them to stop. It is all carrots for them and those who seek to have free countries expend their resources on the international seas, rather than in war. I say this as it a ?policing? action which is costly to the civilians of those countries providing the security who seldom see any gratitude in the cost of product reflected back.

We are not the United States International Police Force. The cost must be shared and equally distributed.

Behar G.
|
District Of Columbia, USA
May 27, 2009

Behar G. in Washington, DC writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico:

Apparently you and I have a very different understanding as to what the "facts" are. If you're ridiculous enough to point to whatever amounts of toxic waste al-qaeda is dumping in those waters, they pale in comparison to the amount of toxic waste international companies have been dumping. (See http://www.unep.org/cpi/briefs/Brief16Mar05.doc) And if you're going to point to "bin laden's navy" i sincerely hope you're not making the argument that all pirates have ties to terrorist groups or all pirates are terrorists. That means that you're choosing to ignore the countless pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden who are NOT affiliated to bin laden or terrorist groups -- thats just a sad excuse U.S. officials use to condone their actions. And to make the ridiculous claim that pirates or the somali government just now realized that piracy goes against everything Islamic doesnt make any sense. You would think that Somalis would be aware of this as Islam has been around for quite some time.

Finally, stating that all violations of international law have been documented or dealt with is inaccurate, but as the link above will show the UN HAS been dealing with this for quite some time--it just hasn't made the 6 o clock news enough to change your thinking.

John
|
Greece
May 27, 2009

John in Greece writes:

I think that the basic "key question" is somewhere between Eric's in NM and Joe's in TN comments, cause they are both logical: Terrorism/al-quaida&co;vs. Cost.

QUOTE: No leader of a stuggling nation should ever have to beg the family of nations for help against al-quaida and co., but Somalia's leader has done so, and I think we ought to give it to him....as of yesterday. END OF QUOTE.

However,

QUOTE: We are not the United States International Police Force. The cost must be shared and equally distributed. END OF QUOTE.

This is really a very difficult debate!

Ron
|
New York, USA
May 27, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Pirates are Criminals

Pirates have ties to Terrorists

Pirates are linked to corrupt officials

Pirates are mercenaries

Pirates know that target vessels are ill-equipped to defend and often instructed to hand over goods.

Pirates can be defeated by arresting their chiefs on land....and killed easily at sea when thet attack decoy freighters.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 28, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

QUOTE: We are not the United States International Police Force. The cost must be shared and equally distributed. END OF QUOTE.

@ John in Greece,

I don't have a debate with what I fully agree with. I wrote the following in the last days of 2001 and my opinion hasn't changed.

"We've been accused of playing world cop, as a nation. If you ask any officer on any street in the U.S. what his/her least favorite call to get is and they'll more than likely say, "Domestic disputes". This is the only politically correct way I can think to describe the current world situation. If we must play that role, they need to understand that there's a new sheriff in town, determined to prevent domestic violence.

This goes as well for the Mideast, the Korean, and other long standing conflicts.

To "protect and serve humanity, and ensure the preservation of civilization, of all cultures, and ways of tradition that an individual or nation has the inalienable right to choose for themselves as they see fit, so long as it harms no other individual's, or nation's ability to do so."
With this as our philosophy, as policy, the "undiscovered country" may become reality. This is not a role that should be played unilaterally, as it is essentially all nation's task."

Fact is, the good 'ol U.S.A. does do some things better than anyone else, and sometimes things no one else can do. For all that we do, the U.S. still only spends something like 1% of yearly GDP on all foreign assistance combined, including UN dues if I remember right.

In any case, this isn't a debate about the per capita value in printable U.S. currency of a human life.

We got a hospital ship floating about on duty anyway, might as well use it if it's not already responding to the Bangladesh typhoon, or the Sri-Lanka refugee crisis.

Where's the debate in that?

There's Russian, Chinese, Japanese, French, NATO assigned warships from various countries, along with a few Gulf nation's assets on patrol, so I just can't see this anti-piracy effort as being a unilateral U.S. police action by any stretch of the imagination.

Nor do I anticipate nor suggest any unilateraly deployed U.S. boots on the ground unless in direct attacks on al-quaida when opportunity knocks for spec. opps raids.

I would remind Joe that we are a nation at war and we'll do what we do best to win it, on our terms. Not al-quaida's.

And that involves heping people live their lives the way they want to, in eventual peace.

----

@ Behar G.

What about al-quaida being "toxic human waste" do you not understand? They dumped themselves in Somalia and I venture they've cause a lot more human suffering than the toxic dumping you are complaining about.

Guess you didn't see the BBC article regarding a pirate group deciding on a better career path;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8066996.stm

I call it "bin laden's navy" precicely because he's been known to adopt a cause or "lifestyle" if it serves his ends. Ask the Palestinians.

Given that his stated strategic goals have been the economic downfall of the US and allied countries, and the known long-term presence of al-quaida in Somalia, I have no doubt al-quaida is involved in piracy.

Nor did I say "all pirates were al-quaida". The rapid rise in piracy however, is very much a factor of al-quaida's need for funding.

You wrote:

"Finally, stating that all violations of international law have been documented or dealt with is inaccurate,.."

Try reading this again, "Fact is, if Somali soveriegn rights were being violated as you suggest, there's ample fora to properly address these issues under international law."

Piracy isn't the way to solve their grievances Behar, two wrongs don't make it right.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
May 28, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

PIRATES ARE TERRORISTS

Anytime a group of people with weapons use deadly force when taking ships, boats, people in a hostage situation and demand money are terrorists. There is no way to sugar coat the situation with the piracy. Whats the cost if the U.S. Navy did not get involved? The Saudis found out quick how they lost one of their big tankers and the ship was probably worth more than the oil onboard. One of our ships was taken hostage, a captain. Should the UN provide support, I agree but then what is the UN? A place for people to sit around and discuss issues from countries around the world, when a known fact is A country leader can still act with Military options and agressions towards another country. In my opinion the United Nations tries to do wonderful things. However, they cannot stop piracy, they can't stop North Korea from firing Nuclear Weapons, nor can they stop Iran from firing Nuclear Weapons. They can sign resolutions on countries, but the reality check is, Country Leaders around the world still make choices to develope and launch weapons. I also believe after the latest nuclear test in North Korea the United States should be in DEFCON 3 status. Let's face it, how long before North Korea starts launching a missile with a Nuclear device, and by then it could be too late. That whole region around North Korea and the State of California should also be on alert. If not mistaken North Korea had the ability to reach the Ca Coast with one of his long range missiles. I also believe North Korea's threat is real and the United States needs to act soon before the loss of Millions of lives. This situation is very grave and needs to be resolved.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 28, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Donald in Virginia,

Well put.

Perhaps the greatest challenge (and opportunity) is in the relationship that develops between rival nations in a common cause on the high seas.

It would have been unthinkable a few years ago for US, Russian and Chinese warships to be involved in a joint task force. And if you had suggested it, folks would have thought you were nuts, or more "unrealistic" than sanity allows for at the very least.

Speaking from experience....(chuckle).

Zharkov
|
United States
May 28, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Seagoing vessels are still not safe no matter how many navies patrol the ocean, and if we insist on having a total government solution, ships will never be safe from piracy.

How many millions of dollars does it cost to keep a 20-nation fleet at sea looking for pirates?

Can't anyone compare the cost of naval patrols from 20 countries to the lesser cost for providing commercial ships with small arms for shooting back at pirates?

There are many things that shipping companies can do much more efficiently and at far less cost than any government could, and one of those things is self-defense.

We expect shipping companies at sea to feed and house their crews, provide them safe working conditions and any medical attention they require, and to pay them, so why not allow the ship's captain to protect the crew as well?

It is such a little thing to carry sufficient weapons to repel pirates that it seems like madness that governments would rather spend tens of millions of dollars patrolling oceans, when a shipping company can protect their own ship for under a thousand dollars.

Government ships cannot be everywhere all the time, and even when they do find pirates, the rules of engagement amount to "catch and release", so what's the point? The government solution has not stopped piracy and cannot stop piracy as long as pirates are free to go home after being caught in the act.

Why are so many governments wasting so much time and money on something the shipping companies and crews could handle for themselves?

Do we not have more important things for governments to do such as removing nuclear weapons in the hands of irrational dictators?

Stacy
|
Massachusetts, USA
May 28, 2009

Stacy in Massachusetts writes:

I agree that efforts need to be made to curb piracy but isn't there a larger issue here? Mainly, that Somalia has devolved into total anarchy and the people are so poor they lack no means to put food on the table or a roof over their heads. For all intents and purposes, there is no functioning government, health care system or economy in Somalia. Unless the international community addresses those issues, piracy will likely continue to be a persistent threat.

Also, as the recent high profile piracy case currently taking place (where the one surviving pirate is going to go on trial) in NY illustrates, many of these "pirates" are practically children and the real problem is the groups which are recruiting these people to go out and hijack the ships, only to turn around and take almost all of the bounty later. In other words, I am not sure putting a few pirates on trial is much of a deterrent given the real criminals are sitting pretty back in Somalia, using the funds to buy weapons and provide support for terrorist organizations.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 29, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Stacy in Mass., Welcome to the blog.

Indeed there is a larger issue. If you want to go macro..; one could even note the strategic overlay of sponsors of terror creating as many humanitarian crisis as possible globally (including Somalia), in order to disperse response to them directly, and induce a fiscal drain on donor nations to the UN trying to cope with various terrorist exacerbated local conflicts and tensions as seen in the global nature of their pattern and methodology of attacks over time, including the latest attacks upon the existing UN-recognized Somali government.

Which goes to the heart of your second point about the need for going to the source of the problem instead of taking a piecemeal approach, if I understood that right.

I guess we'll see if sound logic stands up to politics.

John
|
Greece
May 29, 2009

John in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Clear! (your comment) at this level. Maybe my mistake, I thought like we were discussing about a bigger operation that could offer a final solution for this region.

I thought we were discussing about a "great punch" that would give terrorism/al-quaida & Co. a black eye.

A (punch) bigger operation means real BIG money though, that's why I asked your opinions on this "security/terrorism fight vs. cost" debatable parameter.

You are absolutely right writing: "We got a hospital ship floating about on duty anyway, might as well use it if it's not already responding to the Bangladesh typhoon, or the Sri-Lanka refugee crisis.".

Who can disagree with this? Nobody! it should be there as of yesterday! However, I think that you will agree with me that you cannot fight al-quaida with just a hospital ship.

U.S.A. and NATO forces are already there. The hospital ship will just offer humanitarian help, which is very important. I agree with you.

But, what can we do to have a FINAL SOLUTION?

As the "nightmare" goes, we will very soon have to face the possibility of a probable military engagement, both in sea, air and land.

And here is the debatable point -- according to me, I don't put words in Joe's mouth -- What about the cost? Who will cover it again?

Only America? America only? It's a global issue!

Best regards! I really love your posts and I learn from you!

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
May 29, 2009

Donald in Virginia writes:

Don's idea how to resolve the North Korean Threats!

After all the stuff going on in the world today, think I should of applied for the Secretary of Defense Job. My latest strategy for North Korea is very simple. We just bomb them with laughing gas then drop Sand bags until the midget Kim has to crawl out of his bunker crying for help? Help me help me! As the sand bags continue dropping over North Korea, the people are laughing so hard and praying to Kim please make it stop!!! Make it stop Kim!!! A sand bag by luck lands on top of Kims head, he sees stars, pink elephants. This method is environmentally safe, sand returns to the earth, no harmful poisionings from bullets or shells, plus can recycle the sand after use. Not one missile or rocket fired in harms way, nor bullets flying, or placing our troops in harms way. You can never run out of sand. The cool thing about this strategy is you can add things in the sand bags. Once the North Korean Leader is feeling the pressure of being buried alive, I see the white flag of surrender appearing. Ofcourse, let's not forget about his beautiful palace and swimmming pool, living the Good Life while his people are under a dictactorship and bow down to Kim treating him like a God. This is the same strategy I would use on Iran as well. Make them laugh hard then bomb them with sand bags until they give UP!!!

Have a wonderful day! Ouch who threw that sand bag? heehehheheehheh

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 29, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

First of all John, one must weigh the cost of doing something, against the cost of doing nothing.

When one takes an assesment over time and sees no change in behavior , nor an improvment in the situation, a lot of humanitarian aid that was too little to make a dent, a number of military interventions by various nations that have been under funded and under manned, and without clear political and strategic plan that leaves the average Somali citizen better off than before, with some chance for hope things will continue to improve....

That's throwing money down the toilet, along with blood, sweat and tears, not to mention lives lost to political hand-wringing and haggling over political "interests".

Ok, so you say you want to know how to get results in a cost effective manner right?

Right.

That's why they pay think tank town analysts between 75,000 and 125,000 per year to tell policy makers that very same thing, on a lot of issues.

Well John, I suspect if I type the recipe for success, that means a self-educated, 30-year construction worker knows a thing or two about nation building that think tanks haven't been able to master. I'll no doubt be getting a call in a day or two with a job offer, or a word of thanks for it being a cost effective solution that cost the "powers that be" nothing to arrive at.

This crisis requires a "generalist" I think, so a jack of all trades might just be well suited to arrive at a solution.

Come to think of it, construction is like football...best done by younger folk, so I'm all for a career change.

I accept your challenge and I'll have a working outline in 12-24 hours for public dissection with one non- binding condition.

My challenge to Dept. of State is to get all of think tank town on the phone and have them match my speed of delivery.

Tell 'em to send their best, and if their experts don't deliver a better proposal, I want pick among their jobs.

That's the deal, A workable outlined solution by "high noon" tomorrow.

This could get quite entertaining, to say the least.

State's got nothing to lose on a few phone calls, and the only thing I've got to lose is risking having a few ideas shredded in public, so looks like a win, win situation to me if think tank town thinks their reputation is worth placing their jobs on the line.

( Incentive based, results oriented, goal driven government is the responsibility of the citizen to promote.)

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 30, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

The Framework of any workable solution must be outlaid in context to current understanding of the coflict and parameters of stability and instability of tribal culture in Somalia.

http://foreign.senate.gov/hearings/2009/hrg090520a.html

As such, any plan must start from a basic fundemental set of core principals which underly the parameters of the mission statement, thus it must mesh seamlessly with ongoing efforts and the President's approach towards the issue at a time when policy is still "under review", at least by one congressional subcomittee if not by the guy who makes the ultimate foreign policy decisions for the USA.

If I heard the President correctly he'd "beg, borrow or steal an idea from any source" if he thought it would further the interests of the American people or add to national security.

I'll take President Obama at his litteral word on that and he's welcome to consider the following as his own if it meets those parameters.

In creating a plan that will address the existing parameters outlined in the hearing transcript above, and the problematic scenarios and sentiments that were expressed, I do not consider it to be limited to Somalia.
But rather as a set of potential flexible and adaptable strategies to address the core issues which exist in many conflics al-quaida has chosen to become involved with and involve us in as a result.

Essentially a radical restructuring of UN peacekeeping forces is required for greater effectiveness in post-conflict, insurget dominated situations wherin delivery of humanitarian aid is rendered ineffective by design of those with a destabilization agenda.

Thus, I believe such a plan must address the macro as well as regional strategic overlay of outside influence, including arms dealers, state sponsors of terror, regional actors with ill intent and neighbors in land dispute with Somali people.

First off, a band aid is not going to help, and any action to stabilize the territory of Somalia and assure territorial integrity will of necessity involve a force posture of up to 300,000 troops minimum, including logistics and support, basing and supply chain infrastructure.

Civilian side, NGO's etc say bombs are counterproductive, I agree unless they happen to fall on an al-quaida terrorist's head, in which case we call that "success" where I come from.

So it indeed time to grasp the whole picture and no time to waste.

I find myself in full agreement with Assistant Secretary Carson's opening remarks and glad he's in position to effect some change in thinking.

The diplomatic side of this will be one for the record books if it's possible to conceive the notion among the parties that we, the US can provide the needed heavy lift capability and basing structure on site and secured while Chinese, Russian, and NATO troops expand the "safe zone" perimeters from these three bases chosen for their remoteness, accessable underground water table, sufficiant terrain for air cargo opps and landing strips constructed.

I mentioned bringing a hospital ship off shore and a "golden opportunity to do something very right", and before folks think I'm suggesting "occupation" here, I want to make clear what the deal is.

The intent of this is to lay the foundation for the creation of a battle space (which it already is) that creates the conditions that allow for smooth delivery of humanitarian supply, escape corridors for IDP's to safe zones, and the safety of humanitarian aid workers and the civilian population in general.

As well as addressing the armed with a simple choice.

"Lay down your arms and walk a road to peace, or rest in peace."

In this I would follow the COIN manual in all opperational planning.

For the current leadership, recognised by the UN as having come to power through legitimate process, I would ask the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq to send special envoys to help the leadership undrstand the nature of US involvement and intent in their countries to further his process of reconciliation among tribes and bring a focused understanding from the recieving end of Nation Building as to how the process can achieve a nation conceived by Somalis, built by Somalis, and run by Somalis for the good of Somalis and everyone else.

Except extemists that is.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 30, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

(cont...)

Good governance depends on good and due process, and perhaps Afghanistan and Iraq will be helpful in presenting some blueprints on how that may be structured in tribal society. The loya jirga process comes to mind.

As well, it is the Somali leader's responsibility to present the plan to his own people so they understand why foreign assistance comes with a strong military presence to deliver it.

Diplomaticly, the consultations and agreements that would have to be in place to allow for a multinational solution are made easier by the fact that we all have military assets in the region and a process in place that enjenders a cooperative approach to the "Final Solution", as John in Greece wanted me to come up with.

That "Final Solution" is up to the Somalis in the long run. It's their country.

In the meantime, what's going on in Somalia represents an imminent theat to the economic well being of commercial shipping and related national and international security concerns of various nations.

The challenge and the opportunity that has presented itself to further an ongoing cooperative effort in addressing piracy has come to fruition upon the realization that as senator Feingold put it, "Pirates live on land, not ships."

So I'll briefly outline what I need from China and Russia as well as EU nations and others of note in order to create:

Nation Building 3.0

The Marshal Plan was Nation Building 1.0, Afghanistan was/is 2.0 and Iraq was/is version 2.5 respectively.

The economic recovery aspects that were briefly touched on during the hearing play a vital role in bringing Russia and China as well as the EU/NATO into the mix.

Diplomatic solutions to resolving the resourcing and material contributions needed can be found in creative ways such as approaching the Cambodian government to address it's debt to the US ( see Dipnote archive ) by paying it in bulk rice contributions to NGO distributors of aid we normally supply to anyway at cost to the taxpayer.

In other words, I intend for the diplomatic corps to call in a few favors around the world and be up front with the leader of Somalia that nations need to see a return on their investment by way of having a stake in their economic rebuilding.

To put myself in China's shoes would the contribution of 200,000 troops to police Somalia's borders and help create the safe zone be worth a 99 year lease on beachfront property to build an entire tourist industry and vacation housing for their expanding population, and would that create jobs for Somalis and expand the overall economic base to help create a viable stable future for their investment in such a project?

For the Russians, perhaps mineral leasing rights provided for another 100,000 personel + all the food and farm and related equipment they can ship in till folks are fed proper and can restore the agro economy on a sustainable footing.

(These are just speculative example of what might be possible by way of economic incentive for the parties to find mutual long-term benefit in bilateral relations with Somalia.)

Regarding the UN and NGO participation, Wallmart, Taget and Home Depo will be contacted to be put at your disposal in return for the Somali leaders assurance that at least 10 stores for each will be built in country when conditions permit.

(This is the ultimate public-private collabration for supplying the needed temp housing, camping, and cooking gear, and incedentals the population will need to jumpstart their own rebuilding process.)

(cont...)

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 23, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

(cont...)

The EU/NATO contribution to the global effort to combat poverty, protect populations and promote clean industry is long standing and considerable, however I need them to go beyond what they might deem possible.

Fund, train and restructure the existing UN peacekeeping force on the PRT model of civilian engagement in conflict zones. U.S. consulting advisors having led PRT's on the ground will contribute their expertice.

I'd like to see the AU forces be incorperated into this training.

From a command and control aspect, when dealing with troops of many nations, with all the language complexities and political considerations, no other multilateral org. on Earth has been more successful in organizational and operational planing coordination than NATO.

Shy about expanding "out of area" as they are, they bring an essential ingrediant into this recipe for success.

As Secretary Gates reflected, the manpower exists.

I would add that when a half dozen helicopters can't be had by begging or legal means to support the UN peacekeeping mission in the great basin of the Congo, then there's a serious problem that needs fixing from the root core of the mission.

That problem is the simple collective lack of "Give a damn."

And if folks don't start giving a damn, no plan will matter much.

So recognizing this, I intend to render the UN to an executive role in global peacekeeping partnerships separate from the orginizational framework, much like the the President (as CinC) and the Sec. of Defense are civilian heads of the U.S. military as mandated by separations of powers in our constitution.

The reason for this is simple. The decisions made in the UN Security Council must be reflected on the ground in as efficient and sustainable manner possible, as quickly as possible.

Like most wise Presidents know, the field commander has a better grasp of the situation by virtue of his on-site experience. So he asks the field commander what it takes to meet his goals and makes sure he gets it, or risks being voted out of office if the problem's not corrected. That's called political incentive.

Providing security to an entire nation is the goal here, not "occupation", and al-quaida affiliated Sabeh(sp)will have a hard time coming up with effective propoganda to explain why we (all involved) gave the nation back to the original owners, that's why I want the Afghan/Iraqi contingent to act as the co-chairmen of the "Friends of Somalia" donors conference among Muslim nations.

There's really only one way to change mindsets of mistrust for intent. That's to prove the percieved ill intent untrue.

This requires a working notion of how to go about that and much has been written, so I'll just add that trust factors into manipulating the human condition for the better and there's witness to this.

The Somalis need three basic things from the international community, and these are food, water, and safe shelter along with emergency medical.

Therein lies the opportunity to gain trust.

If we provide that at the same time we separate the insurgents from the population, then it makes the military side of the equation that much more straight forward and operationally desirable for the safety of non-combattants.

So I want the plan to do two things simultaneously, create the safe zones and secure the overland territorial boudaries of Somalia to prevent arms smuggling.

So I set up the three bases in the north, south and mid section, push the security to the perimiters of the borders, secure the areas interlinked and on the seaward side evacuating civilians from secured beacheads and transporting them to the temp housing and aid set up in the areas around the inland bases, when they have water wells and are functioning to provide aid flown in.

I'm going to want a cruise line or two to donate a liner for conversion into hospital use ASAP, with whatever deal can be cut in trade for tour concessions in the future international tourist destination we are going to ultimatly create for the Somali people to enjoy, along with all of us.

The U.S. contribution in supply and logistics capability, air cover and resupply made Nation Building 2.0 and 2.5 possible.

How do we pay for it?

The US currently provides almost 1/4 of all UN peacekeeping funding. We're going to take a flat deduction for our expense in setting up permanant opperating bases for the UN and NGO's to run relief opperations out of for the entire continent of Africa.

I know Congress will appreciate my simple fiscal approach.

(cont...)

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 30, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

In conceptualizing the environment to be created by 300,000 troops and a huge humanitarian supply effort, I'm talking about making stone soup (as I outlined in last weeks' question of the week on public-private collaberation).

I don't intend to "armchair general" the process of creating a functioning security environment needed to provide humanitarian relief to millions, nor the conditions which would allow the safe return of the many refugees in surrounding nations.

But I would suggest that the Afghan model does hold some funtional corrolary to the Somali circumstance in which the local tribal support is won by direct problem solving ability derived through the joint working relationship between the cental government, tribal elders and the military command of the international forces there at the hosted invitation of the Afghan central government.

I will not offer an opinion on the merits of providing support to the current leader of Somalia other than as I put it previously:

"No leader of a stuggling nation should ever have to beg the family of nations for help against al-quaida and co., but Somalia's leader has done so, and I think we ought to give it to him....as of yesterday.""We" in this context being the entire international community as a humanitarian imperetive of the concept, "responsability to protect".

A Somali face, must deliver a Somali solution to create a government "by, for and of" the Somali people, of all tribes who wish to live in peace.

The People of Somali land have the right and responsibility to themselves to deliver on that, but we who have failed all too often to deliver the promise have the moral responsibility as nations witness to these things, to ensure that they get that chance this time around.

In closing I wish the newly minted Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson much success during his term of service to the nation in this capacity.

Special thanks to John in Greece for putting me up to the challenge, and thanks to the Dipnote staff for putting up with my stream of conciousness driven ramblings...and all the rest of you reading...

This is a work in progress, subject to the changes and good ideas you may choose to toss into the pot.

What up with that?

Stone soup.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 30, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

One final thought on the uniqueness of military cooperation between "rivals" on the international stage in general is that is not unique.

War is a temporary condition of the state, the more temporary, the more cost effective the outcome so long as a permanent solution that brooks no further conflict is achieved.

As Colin Powell rightly noted once upon a time...

"You break it, you own it."

I know military folk in the U.S. like to invite a dialoge among forces to achieve a greater level of understanding , if not a sense of predictability of intent and procedure.

I've pushed the envelope on the possible and the probable in seeking total cooperation and I would offer my thoughts on doing buisiness together.

In my experience, more trust has been gained on a handshake and one's word well kept than all the written agreements ever enforced.

I look at this as a social experiment among long time aquaintances, with benefits to be shared by all involved from an investment by all involved after the burden is born by all to achieve something all can live with.

I'm hoping that military folks internationally will get curious if it could be possible to pull off, to the point where they get brave enough to try it.

.

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