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Old 20-04-2009, 12:30   #151
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Yes, it is simplistic. Simple works so much of the time. Who knows why human nature seems to cause us to complicate simple things. We all do it and most of our lives would be better if we didn't.

Letters of Marque were directed at the merchant vessels of enemy nations so I you can make a case that it's not appropriate here, but it remains Constitutional, in the US, and, thus is still legal as far as I'm concerned. There are Americans that believe that US law falls under international law. I'm not one of them.
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Old 20-04-2009, 13:15   #152
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Yes, it is simplistic. Simple works so much of the time. <snip>
Not to overly complicate things, kb, but I would be curious to read what the simple solution is to the following list of factors:

- The "mother ships" aren't galleons flying the skull-and-crossbones, they're captured vessels that often still have their innocent crews aboard to run the ship at gunpoint. From a distance, they look exactly like any other commercial vessel in the area, one of the most heavily-trafficked shipping areas on the planet. Those who've called for fighter jets to strike them are calling for the wiping out of innocent victims and the sinking of some entity's legal commercial property. What is the "simple" solution for dealing with this?

- The so-called "pirates" are little more than thugs - young, macho, uneducated and desperate - but certainly smart enough to have captured more than 250 innocent victims to hold as bargaining chips. Those unfortunate individuals are held somewhere in a lawless, mostly-ungoverned country four times the size of Texas. What is the "simple" solution for securing their release if paying ransom is ruled out?

- Eradicating the thugs' safe havens on land and/or rescuing those held hostage implies ground action on foreign soil (yet again) at great expense, both in treasure, innocent loss of life and casualties among friendly forces. What is the "simple" solution to handling this?

- The influence of western nations is already in serious decline among third world countries. An invasion of another weak third world nation by overwhelming western forces (the only smart way to do it) will deal another serious blow to whatever goodwill remains. This, on a continent unbelievably rich in resources (Africa), simply presents the Chinese with a gift too precious not to exploit. What is the "simple" solution to this dilemma?

You will, perhaps, infer that I doubt there are "simple" solutions to any of the above.

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Old 20-04-2009, 14:06   #153
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Yes, it is simplistic. Simple works so much of the time. Who knows why human nature seems to cause us to complicate simple things. We all do it and most of our lives would be better if we didn't.

Letters of Marque were directed at the merchant vessels of enemy nations so I you can make a case that it's not appropriate here, but it remains Constitutional, in the US, and, thus is still legal as far as I'm concerned. There are Americans that believe that US law falls under international law. I'm not one of them.

"All Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

Article VI, par. 2, Constitution of the United States


We agreed by treaty to stop issuing letters of marque in 1856. We didn't want other countries to issue letters of marque against our shipping, so we obligated ourselves to stop doing it ourselves.
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Old 20-04-2009, 14:11   #154
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As I've posted already UNCLOS gives every signatory state the legal go-ahead to arrest any pirate anywhere on the high seas and prosecute them according to their own laws. And UNSCRs allow those states to treat Somali TTW as the high seas for the purpose of arresting pirates. But it would be a fairly expensive proposition for the few countries that have already coughed-up to police the area to also take on the expense of importing, trying and housing criminals. Other than France (who only prosecutes pirates that have both attacked French vessels and have been captured by the French Navy), none of the victims' flag states has stepped up to take on the task of jailing the pirates. So nobody is objecting per se, but ain't nobody agreeing either.
From what I understand it's not that simple from a legal point of view, but the other things you say are much more important -- we are too lazy and cheap to even prosecute the b*stards. This is crazy. Compare the cost of keeping some of these thugs in prison, to the cost of the all of the security patrols, and the countless millions spent on ransoms.

It should be the flag states that do the prosecuting and jailing. What the h*ll else do citizens of those states pay taxes for?! Failing that -- any interested party. Why send millions on maintaining warships in the region, if you don't want to spend some thousands or hundreds of thousands closing the deal, once you've caught the culprits? It doesn't make any sense.
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Old 20-04-2009, 14:17   #155
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Sadly (or perhaps fortunately) I've been away from this site for a few days, although it seems I got 'BS' into writing another of his inciteful, but 'not hostile' responses. Some might think he tried to insult me, but I say no. While I'm not entirely sure what a 'mastubator' is, (intellectual or otherwise), I'm thinking he was using a clever short-form for 'master debator'. Yes, I will happily wear the appellation 'intellectual master debator'. Thank you BS!

Oh, and D O J is absolutely correct - I wouldn't sail near Somalia, even on (perhaps especially on) BS's boat.

Brad
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Old 20-04-2009, 19:39   #156
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It should be the flag states that do the prosecuting and jailing. What the h*ll else do citizens of those states pay taxes for?! Failing that -- any interested party. Why send millions on maintaining warships in the region, if you don't want to spend some thousands or hundreds of thousands closing the deal, once you've caught the culprits? It doesn't make any sense.
Wouldn't it be nice. Unfortunately, most of the world's shipping sail under flags of convenience - do you really think the taxpayers of Liberia and Panama are going to foot the bill? The warships are there for political reasons, not pragmatic ones.
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Old 21-04-2009, 06:31   #157
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I recognize that innocent people are likely to die in attacks on the pirates' home bases. This sometimes happens, when dealing with terrorists, pirates, & other criminals. The alternative is to continue wringing our collective hands while the bad guys continue to ply their trades. I don't view this lightly, my brother is State Dept. and we've known for 25 years that, were he to be taken by terrorists or other bad guys, the govt. would not pay a ransom. He approves because he sees the big picture. Again, if you want to end Somali piracy you must kill off Somali pirates. I don't see myself sailing down the Somali coast so it's OK, I guess, if, for one reason or another, the civilized world is unwilling to do what has to be done with the uncivilized world, but know that there is a solution, but not the will to fix the problem. Would that solution free all the hostages? Probably not. Would it save others from becoming hostages? Yes.

As for hurting remaining good will towards the US, I can only ask: How well is that good will working off the Somali coast? If I'm attacked by wild dogs, I don't worry that, if I shoot them, it's going to cost me the good will of other wild dogs.

As for the treaty question, the operative words in that Constitutional except are "any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
If you are an American, your representatives are not authorized to give away your constitution thru treaties.

Remember, A is A.
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Old 21-04-2009, 07:00   #158
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It has become apparent over the last several weeks that the international response to acts of piracy near Somalia are on the increase. Vessels from France, the United States, Holland and Canada (sorry if I have missed others) have all been involved in either rescues, or interdictions of pirates in the area.

At the time of the seizure of the American-flagged cargo vessel, I had (to some derision) suggested that what was required was not a knee-jerk reaction by President Obama, but rather a solution that not only considered the lives of any captives, but that also had a chance to be sustainable. I suggested that what was ultimately required was an international response to the problem, recognizing that US resources are now stretched beyond the breaking point. The increase in apprehension of late and the number of different nations involved in the same, all suggest that this is precisely what is now taking place.

For the following reasons I, for one, believe that recent events give rise to some reason for optimism in the battle against Somalian pirates:
1. The US and French navy seals have proven that they are both willing and able to use force to bring hostage situations to an end.
2. Their training enables them to do so with minimal risk to the captives, while exposing their captors to swift and certain 'justice'.
3. The involvement of other navies (including Canada and Holland) in stopping and disarming suspected pirate vessels, speaks to increased vigilence in the area; and
4. The fact that Somalian piracy has now been recognized as an international problem, requiring a response even where only vessels carrying the flags of other nations are at risk.

In short, there has been a 'measured' response to the problem which will tend to operate as a deterrant to the pirates, all without inflaming the passions of other third-world nations such as would have resulted if the US had invaded Somalia, even with so-called surgical strikes. Furthermore, the pirates cannot blame the big, bad US of A for invading their space: this is an international response, to an international problem, that has been carried out with respect for international law.

While this sort of action will inevitably take longer than a ground invasion of Somalia designed to seek out and destroy the pirate enclaves (and while it may tend to be a little less satisfying to our collective and individual sense of 'street' justice), it nevertheless will tend to deter piracy while building, rather than undermining international respect for US foreign policy.

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Old 21-04-2009, 07:13   #159
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Well done Brad.

Thoughtful & well written.
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Old 21-04-2009, 08:54   #160
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I recognize that innocent people are likely to die in attacks on the pirates' home bases. This sometimes happens, when dealing with terrorists, pirates, & other criminals. The alternative is to continue wringing our collective hands while the bad guys continue to ply their trades. I don't view this lightly, my brother is State Dept. and we've known for 25 years that, were he to be taken by terrorists or other bad guys, the govt. would not pay a ransom. He approves because he sees the big picture. Again, if you want to end Somali piracy you must kill off Somali pirates. I don't see myself sailing down the Somali coast so it's OK, I guess, if, for one reason or another, the civilized world is unwilling to do what has to be done with the uncivilized world, but know that there is a solution, but not the will to fix the problem. Would that solution free all the hostages? Probably not. Would it save others from becoming hostages? Yes.

As for hurting remaining good will towards the US, I can only ask: How well is that good will working off the Somali coast? If I'm attacked by wild dogs, I don't worry that, if I shoot them, it's going to cost me the good will of other wild dogs.
I agree with all of this. The Somali pirates have exploited a situation where the civilized world lacks the will to do what's necessary to stop them. What is necessary to stop them is to hunt them, catch them, jail them, and defend against them, using violence when necessary. People will get hurt, and expenses will be incurred. Until we're ready for that, the Somali pirates will keep on coming.



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As for the treaty question, the operative words in that Constitutional except are "any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
If you are an American, your representatives are not authorized to give away your constitution thru treaties.
Sorry, read that phrase again. It says "to the contrary notwithstanding" -- that is, despite what might otherwise be written in the Constitution or in other laws -- a treaty is the supreme law of the land. That is -- a treaty trumps. Thus the U.S. deprived itself of the right to authorize privateers -- to issue letters of marque -- back in 1853, and deprived itself of tons of other rights (to torture prisoners of war, for example) in various treaties and conventions signed over the centuries. That's how treaties work. Thus it is illegal for a U.S. government to issue a letter of marque.

There have been some limitations to the treaty power interpreted into the Constitution over the years by the Supreme Court, but abolishing letters of marque does not fall within any of those limitations. As Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote in the famous (or infamous) constitutional case Missouri v. Holland,

“Acts of Congress are the supreme law of the land only when made in pursuance of the Constitution, while treaties are declared to be so when made under the authority of the United States. It is open to question whether the authority of the United States means more than the formal acts prescribed to make the convention.”

See: http://iilj.org/courses/documents/Missouriv.Holland.pdf

That means that the mere following of necessary formalities in the making of a treaty already triggers the supremacy clause, making the treaty or convention the supreme law of the land -- a much lower constitutional standard than required of federal laws. This was at one time considered so dangerous to our civil liberties that a constitutional amendment, called the Bricker Amendment, was proposed in the 1950's. This amendment (which I would have supported) failed to pass, but it would have provided that:

"A treaty shall become effective as internal law in the United States only through legislation which would be valid in the absence of treaty."

See: Bricker Amendment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The main concern was that a treaty would infringe on state law, that is, that a treaty might cover some subject which is not a legitimate subject of federal law thus illegitimately expanding the power of the federal government through the back door of a treaty -- remember, our constitutional system gives the federal government only limited powers, while general powers are retained by the states. That a treaty can limit what the federal government can do -- like issuing letters of marque -- is not controversial.


Sorry guys, I guess for most of you this is pedantic and boring. Keelbolts just happened to touch on a subject which has been a particular interest of mine over the years; I couldn't resist. Anyway ultimately it's all about piracy.
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Old 21-04-2009, 10:24   #161
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I recognize that innocent people are likely to die in attacks on the pirates' home bases. This sometimes happens, when dealing with terrorists, pirates, & other criminals. The alternative is to continue wringing our collective hands while the bad guys continue to ply their trades. I don't view this lightly, my brother is State Dept. and we've known for 25 years that, were he to be taken by terrorists or other bad guys, the govt. would not pay a ransom. He approves because he sees the big picture. Again, if you want to end Somali piracy you must kill off Somali pirates. I don't see myself sailing down the Somali coast so it's OK, I guess, if, for one reason or another, the civilized world is unwilling to do what has to be done with the uncivilized world, but know that there is a solution, but not the will to fix the problem. Would that solution free all the hostages? Probably not. Would it save others from becoming hostages? Yes.

As for hurting remaining good will towards the US, I can only ask: How well is that good will working off the Somali coast? If I'm attacked by wild dogs, I don't worry that, if I shoot them, it's going to cost me the good will of other wild dogs.

As for the treaty question, the operative words in that Constitutional except are "any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
If you are an American, your representatives are not authorized to give away your constitution thru treaties.

Remember, A is A.
I've carefully read through your post a couple of times, kb, but nowhere do I find the "simple solution" you favor for any of the items I outlined. If you do indeed know of a "simple" way to successfully cope with any of them, I'd be very interested in reading what you have to offer. I'm sure those who will actually be tasked with doing the dirty work would be equally interested in knowing there is a "simple" way to solve the piracy problem.

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Old 21-04-2009, 11:20   #162
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Does anyone else here wonder why our elected leaders and the CEO's of the shipping companies are not clamoring for changes to the "Laws of the Sea"? Why the shipping companies are not interested in arming their crews or having armed guards on their ships?

When I hear people talking about the "civilized" and "uncivilized" world what I hear is arrogance.

I would take seriously anyone who calls for the bombing of Somalia and the necessary killing of innocents if they were on the ground in Somalia.
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Old 21-04-2009, 12:42   #163
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Does anyone else here wonder why our elected leaders and the CEO's of the shipping companies are not clamoring for changes to the "Laws of the Sea"? Why the shipping companies are not interested in arming their crews or having armed guards on their ships?

When I hear people talking about the "civilized" and "uncivilized" world what I hear is arrogance.

I would take seriously anyone who calls for the bombing of Somalia and the necessary killing of innocents if they were on the ground in Somalia.
Well, if I can try to inject a voice of reason in here . . .

Ship owners are not arming their crews and so forth because it is profitable for them, in the short term, to pay ransom on occasion and brush the problem under the rug. They don't want to mess with liability issues and all of that. But this is short-term thinking which creates the conditions for more and more and more piracy, including piracy affecting US, the cruising yachtsmen of the world. That's why you see people here being . . . concerned, let's say.

Responding to piracy with force will result in some collateral damage. Some innocent crewmembers killed, and probably some innocent Somalis killed. I don't think anyone suggests that there is anything good about this, but it is inevitable if a forceful response is made.

Again, the root problem is that we (if you don't like the phrase "civilized world", then let's say "community of countries whose ships are victims of piracy, as opposed to those countries whose citizens commit piracy") don't have the nerve to accept the consequences of using force. The pirates know that and exploit it, with the result that their own violence and threat of violence conquers all, and results in hundreds of millions of dollars of ransom paid, and constant escalation of threat of violence used by pirates, since the rest of the world will not answer it.

We can't have it both ways -- no violence, and no piracy. By shrinking from the use of force, we create overwhelming incentives for pirates to keep on doing what they do. That's a lot of us on this board think we have no choice, but to use force. Count me as one of them.

Although of course, all possible measures should be used to reduce collateral damage and harm to innocent crews or civilians. I don't think anyone would disagree with that.
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Old 21-04-2009, 17:25   #164
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While I do not disagree with your position Dockhead, I remain convinced as it pertains to the issue embracing this thread, that there is no need to "throw the baby out with the bath water", and initiate a land-ground initiative.

This today from the Independent newspaper, which vindicates my original posting on this piracy issue's epidemiology being "an organized crime and/or terrorist initiative", and I quote:

"Investigators hired by the shipping industry have told the Independent around US$80 million has been paid in the last year alone - far more than previously admitted..... They are just the small fish. The big sharks operate out of places like Dubai, Nairobi, and Mombasa. ... The UAE connection is certainly talked about in the industry and people have been looking into it. There are also concerns that some of the money may have ended up with Islamist militants - both in Somalia and abroad. However this has not been publicly acknowledged because shipping companies would be breaking laws on funding terrorism by paying ransoms"

The above aside, and being motivated by GordMay's comment of 20 April which questioned the intelligence and communicative abilities of certain individuals, which no doubt at minimum includes ‘yours truly’, I will simply comment by saying:

"I will not dignify the comments of what I may perceive as perhaps a ‘mental midget’, other than suggest that any 'arm-chair' sailors on this site go buy a yacht before commenting on the wisdom, intelligence and/or experience of other's on this site with current cruising experience!"
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Old 21-04-2009, 17:58   #165
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Does anyone else here wonder why our elected leaders and the CEO's of the shipping companies are not clamoring for changes to the "Laws of the Sea"? Why the shipping companies are not interested in arming their crews or having armed guards on their ships?

When I hear people talking about the "civilized" and "uncivilized" world what I hear is arrogance.

I would take seriously anyone who calls for the bombing of Somalia and the necessary killing of innocents if they were on the ground in Somalia.
I agree that bombing ground targets or any talk of invasion would be counter-productive in the long run, and would justify the charges of western arrogance by the third world in the short run.

But . . .

There IS civilized and uncivilized. Calling a spade a spade is not arrogance. The fear of calling things what they are for the sake of political correctness or "wanting to get along" or not wanting to be seen as arrogant, or racist, or whatever ". . . ist" is today's flavor of the day -- only leads to postponing the inevitable, necessary solution. I'm sorry if those who are acting uncivilized are also poor or perhaps a different skin color or religion than me. Non of that excuses, explains or re-defines the uncivilized behavior. It is not their poverty or skin color or religion I object to. It is their uncivilized behavior, and the civilized world has a right to object to it.

DGC
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