Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Pirates: The Maersk Alabama

A Political Solution?

Lawlessness and instability breed criminality, notes Vice Admiral William Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the Combined Maritime Forces. Gortney and other experts believe that the best way to eradicate piracy is to fundamentally change Somaliaby giving its people a legitimate path to prosperity and by helping Somalia to attain the stability necessary to enforce the rule of law.

Military action may be part of that. Captain Pottengal Mukundan, director of the piracy reporting center at the International Maritime Bureau, says that the nations in which ships are registered must actas the U.S. and France did.

The U.S., many European nations, NATO, Russia, China and South Korea are all active in this part of the Indian Ocean. But they must individually and jointly decide how much responsibility to take; how much information to share with each other; and how much money and effort, and potentially how many lives, to invest in stabilizing Somalia.

The U.S. has U.N.-granted authority to direct peacekeeping operations in Somalia, but has been reluctant to do so since the Battle of Mogadishu, when Somalis shot down two Black Hawk helicopters and dragged the bodies of U.S. soldiers through the streets. Additionally, 20 U.N. nations were authorized in 2008 to respond to acts of piracy in Somali territorial waters.

Ron Paul
Ron Paul
President Obama has promised to attack piracy. And he's getting plenty of unsolicited and unusual advice about how to do this. Inspired by the Constitution's provision for Congressional authorization of letters of marque and reprisal, Texas Congressman Ron Paul suggests that the federal government train and hire bounty hunters. The proposal would grant the U.S. the power to hire private citizens to man international watersand to keep the booty.

Less dramatically, for the time being, the shipping lines may have some work to do.

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