When many people think of pirates, they think of Johnny Depp. With huge galleons, filled to the brim with cannons, the swashbuckling life may seem appealing to some, but in the 21st century piracy has turned into a whole new ball game. CNN reports that there have been at least 95 pirate attacks so far this year on the world’s oceans, far surpassing last year’s number of 48 attacks. These pirates-mainly stemming from the war-torn, failed state of Somalia-have taken over everything from private yachts to cargo shipments to massive oil tankers, and are holding a large multinational group of hostages from these ships. The editorial board of The Miami Student believes that there must be a more robust naval deployment to the Indian Ocean, specifically the east African coast, in order to stop this horrific trend of piracy.
Many people may not realize the scourge of society contemporary pirates represent. Known for years to attack cruise ships, the recent actions by Somali-based teams of raiders seem to have come out of nowhere. In fact, Somali pirates have taken the world by surprise in that they have turned what many once considered an ancient hobby into a true moneymaking venture. Many shipping companies have acquiesced to pirate demands and have paid enormous ransoms in order to save their crews and goods from death and destruction.
The inflow of ransom payments from the outside world has been so profitable, in fact, that many news services are reporting the likes of “boomtowns” within Somali-that is, towns that are now extremely wealthy based solely on the take from pirate raids. Not bad for a country that has not had any semblance of government in decades and drove American and international peacekeepers out within mere years of deployment.
What’s worse is that there have been little to no efforts to actually solve the pirate menace. While we’re lucky that the Indian arm finally took matters into its own hands and destroyed what appears to be a “pirate mothership,” from which multiple attacks were launched, NATO forces have been bogged down in meetings instead of fielding a force strong enough to defeat this emerging threat. While there are NATO warships in the area and patrolling the coast of Africa, the small deployment is largely ineffective. This seems worrisome based on the amount of reliance Western nations have on the eastern coast of Africa. Not only have shipping companies just now started to instruct their vessels to bypass the Suez Canal and navigate around the entirety of the African continent, but American forward deployment bases in the Indian Ocean-specifically Diego Garcia-are utterly reliant on unfettered access to these Indian Ocean passageways. NATO’s message to shippers? Spend more money to put armed guards on your vessels.
The editorial board believes that these measures are wholly lacking in their ability to solve current crises. We cannot simply allow piracy of this magnitude and pump hundreds of thousands-if not millions-of dollars into the Somali economy while our own pocketbooks are hurting. We must not stand for hostage taking and instead must ask for a more robust deployment and cooperation of navies to the Indian Ocean in order to stop this piracy threat once and for all. If we do not reaffirm safe passageway into areas such as the Suez Canal, we will only see resource costs climb higher and higher as transport becomes more expensive over time.