August 21, 2019   7:54pm
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Are those Pirates “good” guys gone “bad”?

We haven’t been this surrounded by pirate stories since the heroic Peter Pan and the villainous Captain Hook. But there’s a key difference between the fantastical pirates of our youth and the Somalian pirates that have been splashed across front pages for some months now (most recently, of course, the Richard Phillips hostage incident).

The Samoli pirates aren’t as easily classifiable.

Yes, once again, our media is all agog and aflutter. And not just in the way The Washington Post purported in their KidsPost on Wednesday: “Somali pirates don’t wear ruffled shirts and have parrots on their shoulders; they are dangerous criminals.”

While we’re all looking for heroes to renew our hope (yes, Captain Sully has peaked), just momentarily remove any biases. Because here’s what really got this whole evil-pirates-that-want-only-money thing to spiral out-of-control.

Bear with us as we quote a pirate spokesperson from September ’08 who, unaware of its cargo, hijacked a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition — an estimated $30 million worth of heavy weaponry, heading for Kenya or Sudan. In this instance a doing-a-good-deed-by-accident pirate, Mr. Sugule spoke on everything from what the pirates wanted (“just money”) to why they were doing this (“to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters”) to what they had to eat on board (rice, meat, bread, spaghetti, “you know, normal human-being food”).

Pirate Sugale feels the pirates have been misunderstood: “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits … We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”

Is the Samoli situation actually caused by others’ greed. Sound familiar?

A little history …
During 1991 Somalia’s government fell apart. This left the waters surrounding their country a free-for-all smorgasbord that European nations weren’t hesitant to feast upon. They illegally fished and dumped nuclear waste into the waters and took advantage of a fragile, collapsing nation at the expense of its people. Without a government to defend what was for many Somalians their only livelihood, groups of men formed, took the situation into their own hands and began to patrol the waters, demanding a tax from commercial fishermen.

The success of these independent Coast Guard-type operations spawned the now rampant attacks of all ships in Somalian waters by sometimes reckless teenagers infused with a sense of nationalism and nothing-to-lose attitudes, and at other times, those simply trying to take what they feel has been wrongly taken from them—a Robin Hood of sorts (more childhood fantasies).

Now … we’re not the only ones that want to lift the curtain up. Johann Hari’s article in the Huffington Post, “You Are Being Lied to About Pirates” agrees. And, since Obama, who truly seems to be our shining beacon of all things rational right now, didn’t address the root of the problem, we’re glad Hari has. (We were hopeful Obama would, too, but recognize that politics often upends truthful discourse.)

As Hari wrote: “Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn’t act on those crimes – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, we begin to shriek about ‘evil.’ If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause – our crimes – before we send in the gun-boats to root out Somalia’s criminals.”

Even our blogroll friends at Questionable Source stepped up and addressed the issue last September with their article, “Somalia’s ‘Coast Guard.'”

Yes, Americans have the strongest naval force in the world, yet these Somalians are taking our heavily crewed, armed ships hostage using rickety speedboats.

Are we the only ones not quite understanding the real truth in all of this?

Modesta and
Harriett@snoety.com

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