Rid The Sea Lanes Of Piracy.
I reside just minutes from the Atlantic Ocean and the coast of North Carolina and those barrier Islands along our coast which made for wonderful hiding places for the pirates of yesteryear. The Coast of North Carolina is drenched in folklore about pirates. The infamous Blackbeard was captured here and decapitated. The sports teams of at least one noted university here are named “The Pirates.” So, we Tar Heels have a colorful history of interaction with pirates as does our sister state to the south. .
That was then. This is now.
Again the high seas are infested with pirates. Their aim is the same… to rob and steal. But now, they have added ransom.
Recently we heard of an Ocean Liner being attacked, but managing to speed away. A few days later, in the same waters, a freighter was attacked. It, too, managed to get away. As I write, at least one of the largest vessels afloat, an oil tanker, is being held for ransom by a handful of modern day blackhearts in full view of the world, and the world’s navies, including warships of the US Navy.
Our own Caribbean is littered with modern day pirates. Yachts disappear to show up at some other location, with a different registration, and different name. Sometimes passengers disappear, too.
On at least two different occasions in our history, under two Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, the US Navy, and Marines, had to rid the coast of Africa of pirates. The Barbary Coast Pirates.
I bring up these particular pirates because they were based along the African coast, mainly the North African coast. The pirates we seem to be having the most trouble with today are also on the African coast, but the east African coast…the coast of Somalia to be more exact. So far this year, alone, those pirates have attacked over 90 ships. They have managed to hijack 39 freighters, tankers, and fishing vessels. At least 14 of them are currently anchored, under heavy guard, off pirate villages along the coast of Somalia. Estimates run as high as 30 million dollars paid in ransom money.
Turns out it is not as easy today as it used to be to take on the pirates. All sorts of national and international laws tie the hands of governments and makes them less than eager to take on a couple of dozen men with small arms and two or three rubber boats. But there is an outfit, based here in North Carolina, eager to do what the governments of the world sea powers are reluctant to do. I speak, of course, of Blackwater Worldwide.
Equipped with their own warship, the McArthur, Blackwater is looking to provide a new service to the merchant navies of the world. Blackwater offers to escort paying customer’s ships through the pirate infested waters, safely. Their plan is simple: Issue verbal warnings to approaching vessels which appear to have piracy in mind, followed by a few shots in the air, and if that fails… then the sharpshooters aboard a couple of helicopters, flown from the deck of the McArthur, will do their job by taking out as many barefooted pirates as it takes to discourage the attack.
Already Blackwater is receiving inquiries from dozens of shipping companies and shipping insurance companies concerning Backwater’s services in escorting their ships through the world’s most dangerous waters.
There is an excellent article on all of this at:
The country of Somalia still has no functioning government and it is a breeding ground for this type of activity.
Teddy Roosevelt, the last President of the United States to deal with Barbary Pirates, had the opportunity to use the big stick he carried and, he did just that. He sent seven battleships from the Atlantic Fleet to the North African Coast. It worked and the pirates backed down.
This blight on the oceans will not go away if we turn a blind eye. It will get worse. Eventually they will manage to stop and board a passenger liner and death and destruction will be the result. Or, terrorists will seize an oil tanker, sail her into the harbor of one of the world’s great cities, and blow it up with unbelievable death and devastation as the result.
Now is the time to hunt them down and destroy them… even if that means following them to their center of operations in the seacoast villages of the country, or countries, providing them safe haven.
J. D. Longstreet
Keeping An Eye on Iran
How much more diplomacy with Iran before the Mad Mullahs slam Israel with a nuclear tipped missile? HUH?
Weston European nations including Great Britain, France, and Germany, are once again trying to “talk” Iran out of continuing to enrich uranium to weapons grade. Once they have accomplished that, would anyone care to hazard a guess as to how long until they choose Israel as a target for a “test” fired missile?
The Mullahs are rather enjoying the “Jaw-Jaw” of the westerners. It makes them feel important. Much the same reason they feel it necessary to build nuclear weapons. That have a gigantic inferiority complex and all the attention from the west strokes their HUGE egos into believing they are something more modern that a backwards 13th century, third-world nation state.
I am beginning the think it is a “toss up” as to which nation is at the top of the hit list in the War on Terror. Syria, or Iran. Surely we must hit one or the other, or both. Both have a lot going for them as they vie for first place on that list.
Syria, while a pain in the backside of the world, is not really threatening anybody outside of their immediate circle of Middle Eastern neighbors.
Iran, on the other hand, is a different story. Once they have mounted those nuclear warheads on the missiles they already have, they can strike far outside the Middle East and deep into Europe. I still feel their first target will be Israel, simply because they know the minute they light up the first nuclear missile, the US will blast them back into the Stone Age. So they have to make that first shot count. It may be their last. Their deep-seated hatred for Israel will not allow them to chance losing an opportunity to visit death and destruction upon the Israelis.
Even more worrisome behavior, by Iran, is their rumored support of Hamas and Hezbollah in South America. If true, that puts them clearly inside the US sphere of influence. The presence of Hamas and Hezbollah in the “tri-border area” of South America (Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay) and, recently, in Venezuela have not gone unnoticed by US intelligence agencies. The US may find it necessary to clean up around it’s own doorstep in the near future. It is, indeed, an area that needs intense scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the Europeans seem to have learned nothing from two world wars, nothing. They are still, to this day, attempting to placate their adversaries by bowing and scraping and diplomatically “kissing-up”. They had better wake up and get a grasp on the situation. You see, their perennial protector is sorta busy. The US has its hands full, right now. The US is, as they say, otherwise occupied.
The point of all this rambling is to say simply, it’s time to stop talking with Iran and start doing. Take out a few of their nuclear installations, their enrichment plants, and such. That will get their attention. They do not believe the West has “the stones” for it, so they simply disregard all the diplomatic blather and continue their menacing ways. The quickest way to get them to the negotiating table is to slap them around a little.
It is trite to say, I know, but the Iranians understand power and the application of power. Sad to say, our European cousins, apparently, do not.
We have said for a very long time now that the US is in Iraq to stay. They have constructed permanent military installations there and I do not see the US giving up this “forward” position for US ground troops in the Middle East. Besides, with our continued presence in Iraq, we have or friend (Israel) close… and our enemy (Iran) even closer!
J. D. Longstreet
By Alan Caruba
Mamoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, was bouncing off the walls in August. Hardly a day went by without his getting crazier and crazier about Zionism, Israel, and Jews in general. The last guy who talked like this was Adolf Hitler and he started World War Two.
Here’s just a sample of Ahmadinejad’s ravings:
“About 2,000 organized Zionists and 7,000 to 8,000 agents of Zionism have dragged the world into turmoil.” Last time I checked most of the turmoil is being generated by the likes of the Russians, al Qaeda murderers, Hezbollah, Hamas, and, oh yes, Iran.
I have no idea where Mamoud came up with his numbers, but it is safe to say that most citizens of Israel can be called Zionist insofar Zionism was a movement to reestablish Israel. I know a lot of Christians who proudly call themselves Zionists, so I think Mamoud is off by a couple of million.
“The era of the Zionists has come to an end, and I recommend that the leaders of Europe and the U.S. not submit to the Zionists. If they help them, they will be harmed.” Whoa! Anybody hear a threat to nuke Europe and the U.S. in this statement? I do. And I am thinking, “preemptive strike.”
“We will witness dismantling of the corrupt regime (Israel) in a very near future,” said Mamoud during World Mosque Week in August. He went on to say that Israel is “the main cause of all corruption and wickedness in the contemporary era.” He has likewise described Israel as “a dirty microbe”, “a wild animal”, and “the West’s scarecrow.”
Mamoud is not just talking about Israel. He’s really talking about Jews because, like a lot of Muslims, he has absorbed all the anti-Semitic teachings of the Koran. It’s worth noting that Mohammad also mocked Christianity and committed all Muslims to impose Islam on the world.
But Mamoud wasn’t finished. He went on to advise “writers in the West” to avoid referring to the Holocaust, the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazi regime, because that would be “tantamount to backing the identity of the Zionists.” Mamoud doesn’t believe the Holocaust ever happened or so he says.
“Soon the world will celebrate the elimination of the oppressing Zionism.”
So much for the wit and wisdom of Mamoud Ahmadinejad circa August 2008.
What one can swiftly discern from this selection of comments is that Ahmadinejad is doing a poor job of hinting that an attack on Israel is coming. He may just have in mind something similar to the Hezbollah attack out of Lebanon in July-August 2006 or a combined attack with Hamas.
Or he may be saying that, as soon as Iran can put nuclear warheads on top of missiles, it will not only destroy Israel, but threaten Europe as well.
I will leave the parsing and analysis of Ahmadinejad’s ravings to people who do this for a living. I am sure that August alone gave them cause to send a number of lively intelligence reports for inclusion in President Bush’s daily briefings.
For my part, though, I’m thinking the sooner Israel and/or the United States blows Iran’s nuclear facilities off the face of the Earth, the better.
We don’t need to invade Iran or occupy it. We just need to send a message that we have read the history of World War II and we don’t want to repeat the errors of the past by not believing what our enemies are saying.
I have no ill feelings for the people of Iran. They are descended from an ancient civilization and they deserve to be liberated from the insane ayatollahs that hold them captive to their primitive and barbaric interpretation of Islam.
What the world must rightly fear is the madness of Ahmadinejad and his cronies. He lives for the return of the mythical Twelfth Imam and he believes the only way that can be brought about is with the maximum spilling of blood.
Just because America, Europe, Israel and a host of other nations may want peace does not mean they will permitted to have it. When there’s a nut loose in the neighborhood, he needs to be removed from the streets.
Bristling at Being Threatened by Putin
by: J. D. Longstreet
The US has just been challenged to a duel. Hey, I’m a Southerner! I’m a throwback to the days of defending one’s honor on the field of honor by a duel! Yep, I’m a hopeless romantic, I suppose.
That doesn’t change the fact that Putin is threatening us through Poland. Secretary of State Rice can “dismiss” Putin’s threat if she dares, and apparently she does dare, but I have to tell you, it will be at our peril and the peril of the good people of Poland if we do. If Putin says he will attack Poland… Putin WILL attack Poland. (See: Georgia!) To her credit, Dr, Rice did say this: “When you threaten Poland, you perhaps forget that it is not 1988,” Rice said. “It’s 2008 and the United States has a … firm treaty guarantee to defend Poland’s territory as if it was the territory of the United States. So it’s probably not wise to throw these threats around.”
Look, the deal to place Interceptor missiles in Poland is a done deal. It is going to happen. If Putin sends troops into Poland by land or by air, there will be hell to pay. If Russian air forces, missiles, or ground assault troops, take the lives of American troops and/or American civilian support personal, the proverbial “ship will hit the sand”! The US Military WILL respond. Most likely, the Russian airbases, from which the attacking Russian aircraft took off for their raid on Poland, will cease to exist… in short order.
Somehow, the world has come to believe the US military is fighting at it’s maximum in the Middle East today. That is far from being true. We have military assets that have not been committed to battle in the Middle East and are standing by for such an eventuality as an attack by, oh, say… Russia. Our enemies should not believe all they read, hear, and see in our leftist mainstream media today. The US Military is, even at it’s weakest, a force to be reckoned with. The Russian military may be a mile wide, but look past the width and you will quickly see it is only an inch deep.
I sincerely hope the Administration is taking Putin seriously. I happen to think that Putin WILL carry out his threat. It may come in a way we least expect, but, rest assured Mr. Putin does not make idle threats.
Poland is a member of NATO. If there is indeed a Russian strike on Poland, according to the NATO compact, it will be considered an attack on all the nations of NATO and ALL the Nations of NATO will respond with Military attacks on Russia. I have an idea that US subs are making their way to stations off Russia even as I write this and they are “loaded for bear” with everything from cruise missiles to the big boys, the boomers, the nuclear ballistic missiles. Those black bat-wing bombers are ready, at a moment’s notice, to take to the skies in retaliation.
Putin has been stretching the envelope recently, anyway. It is as though he is deliberately tweaking the nose of the US. Rumors of Russian nuclear bomber refueling bases in Cuba, more in Venezuela, and probing our air defenses, and Great Britain’s, as well, would indicate that he is up to something.
If it sounds scary, that’s because it is! If this “dust-up” with Russia causes you concern, it should. I would expect, and I would hope, any US strike against Russia would be limited to those Russian assets having made the raid on Poland. After that, the next step by the US would be determined by Putin’s reaction.
These are, indeed, perilous times. It is not a stretch to say we could be on the threshold of a war with Russia. An American of my generation can hardly forget it was Germany’s attack on none other than Poland that kicked off The Second World War. I remember, also that American military forces, totaling some 8,000 US troops, landed, once before in Russia, (in August of 1918) in defense of the 40,000 man strong military force of Czechoslovakia trapped by Russian forces as they tried to make their way to the “Western Front”. It is said that history repeats itself. Note, if you will, that… as it happens… Putin is currently exorcised about (Who else?) Czechoslovakia becoming one of the recipients, or “hosts”, of our defensive missile shield. US troops finally left Russia, in April of 1920. I think it is safe to say US forces are in no hurry to return to Russia.
Nevertheless, one of the costs of freedom is “eternal vigilance”… that is simply another way of saying… we cannot take our eyes off Putin’s Russia.
J. D. Longstreet
Russia… At It Again!
It didn’t take Russia long to begin flexing her military muscle, once she got her feet under her again, now did it? Yep! She’s up to her old tricks again, driving her troops across borders and into neighboring countries, stirring up trouble, just like in the old days. Some things just never change…well, not for long, anyway.
So, what is Russia’s incursion into Georgia all about, anyway? OK, to get to the truth and cut through all the garbage, this is a fight between Russia and the United States. Russia is royally PO’ed at the US for messing around in what it considers its backyard. Blame NATO.
You see, The Ukraine and Georgia are on the waiting list to become members of NATO, a US led alliance of nations. Once, an organization for nations along the North Atlantic Ocean, (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Nato long since moved inland…. way inland! This does not sit well with Russia… not at all.
Georgia, in an attempt, we believe, to gain US support in its bid for NATO membership, lent some two thousand troops to the effort in Iraq. Until today Georgia had the third largest contingent of troops serving in Iraq after the US and the UK…. a fact little known by the remainder of the world. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Vladimirovic Putin didn’t miss it, however. Those troops are being flown back to Georgia, ASAP, to assist their own country in its struggle with Russia.
Georgia is pro-US… and… the US is pro-Georgia. That irks the living daylights out of the Russians. Maybe it would be more nearly correct to say that it irks Putin. Do not mistake the fact that even though Dimtry Medvedev is the “front man”, as the Russian President, Prime Minister Putin is pulling the strings.
Now that Putin is out of the persistent limelight, after turning the office of President of Russia over to Dimtry Medvedev, he has been freed up to REALLY instigate trouble all over the globe for the US… and he is allowing no grass to grow beneath his feet.
Just a few days ago we learned of Putin’s plans for a Russian Nuclear Bomber base being planned for the Island of Cuba, just 90 miles south of the US mainland. Of course, the Russians vehemently denied it, but nobody can convince me that it is not a tit-for-tat from Putin over the US insistence on placing defensive anti-missile “missile bases” in Putin’s backyard. He is furious about that. The Georgia adventurism, we believe, is all a part of his scheme to rattle America’s cage during what is probably one of the only periods of time when America is in a weakened state, and that is during the closing months of a Presidential election. For all intents and purposes the US government goes into limbo for those critical weeks and it is a prime time for enemies of the US to provoke trouble for the US. Putin is not unaware of the less that stellar leadership in the US Congress, currently, which is to say, basically NONE, and he is bound to take advantage of it. That is exactly what he is doing.
You will have noted, I take it, one of the Russian Air Force’s targets was that vital US supported pipeline, in Georgia, bringing that black gold from the Caspian Sea area. The oil coursing through that petroleum artery allows the US to reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil… and… at the same time, it bypasses Russia … and the other trouble spot in the Middle East… Iran. It is a persistent irritant to the “Russian Bear” now prowling the woods once again.
By the way, that pipeline carries some one million barrels of crude, per day. That is a bit more than one percent of the world’s crude oil output per day! That is HUGE! The oil, itself, comes from the fields of Azerbaijan located near the Caspian Sea. Mostly unknown, those oil fields are thought to hold roughly one-third of the world’s known oil reserves today. And to make matters worse… those vitally important oil fields are immensely important to the US! Crude oil prices, gasoline prices, and, yes, fuel oil prices are bound to skyrocket in a few days just when they had dropped to a level at which American voters could finally see a light at the end of the black, black, tunnel! To make matters worse, those Azerbaijan oil fields are extremely vulnerable to attack from Russian forces.
Even as US President George Bush was speaking to Russia’s New Prime Minister Putin, about the violence in Georgia, Russian tanks were rolling in. The Georgian Ambassador to the US was pleading with the US, and other Georgian friends, for assistance in stopping what can only be referred to as a Russian “Invasion” of Georgia. The US State Department, within hours, sent a message to Russia asking Russia to halt this invasion with a “cease fire” and prepare for a mediator from Washington due, on scene, almost immediately.
The truth is, that any way you parse it, this is Russian aggression, something we became accustomed to during the Cold War One It would now seem that Cold War Two is upon Us!
Relieve NATO in Afghanistan?
By: J.D. Longstreet
If the US has any hope of winning a war in Afghanistan, then all those NATO troops, and their politically correct approach to fighting a war, may have to be relieved. In fact, I see no real reason, anymore for continuing the alliance known as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization.)
There are, currently, 43,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. Now, check this…. 14, 000 of THOSE NATO troops are American troops. Then look a tad closer and you’ll find another 13,000 American troops in Afghanistan, not serving under the NATO flag. So, only 29,000 of the NATO troops are non-American. When you add the American troops together you get 27,000 American troops in Afghanistan as opposed to 29,000 non-American NATO troops. Ponder those numbers for a moment.
Now, why aren’t the NATO troops more effective? When one looks objectively at the NATO troops performance in Afghanistan, one would have to conclude that NATO is certainly not winning the war against the Taliban. If anything, they have reached some sort of stalemate. Not winning and not losing.
Some observers say that some of the NATO countries insist on placing their troops in less dangerous parts of Afghanistan. Germany, for instance has her troops assigned to the northern part of that country where there is much less combat and much less chance that Germany will rack up combat deaths and injuries to her troops. US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, has said he is afraid that NATO is in danger of splitting into two parts. He went on to say this policy could end up… “forcing other allies to bear a disproportionate share of the fighting and dying.” Needless to say some of the NATO partners are furious at the two-tied NATO policy. On the other hand, Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands are directly engaged in combat operations.
This infighting within NATO is nothing new. It has been going on since, well, early days of the NATO organization. The European countries, it seems, have always had their own ways of viewing threats to their particular countries and interpreting those threats and , it would seem, they still have trouble working together as a team.
On this side of the pond, Canada is threatening to take her NATO troops home next year. Canada wants one thousand more NATO troops, non-Canadians, sent to Kandahar, which is located in the south of Afghanistan, to take some of the pressure off the Canadians who have lost 66 Canadian troops in some of the hottest combat in that theatre of operations.
Look, there is no way around it. The Brits, the Canucks, and the Dutch are the fighting forces holding the line in Afghanistan! Who can blame them if they tend to get their backs up when fellow members of the NATO organization appear reluctant to fairly share the burden?
It is becoming clearer, as time passes, that handing off Afghanistan to NATO to begin with may have made a bad mistake. The armies of the various countries making up the NATO military forces in Afghanistan have different approaches to fighting a war. They have different rules of engagement and they even have different approaches to the various and sundry ways they go about re-building that war torn country. There is simply no way to devise a single strategy when NATO partners insist on doing things “their way”. Even a “wet-behind-the-ears” basic training recruit knows you cannot fight and win a war that way.
There is growing frustration among American military leaders, and many American civilians looking on, over NATO’s less than effective efforts in Afghanistan. Many of us have begun to wonder if the US made a mistake, a huge mistake, in handing over the war effort in Afghanistan to NATO. Not only are we wondering THAT, but we are also questioning whether NATO is worth saving. Now that we know which countries can field an effective fighting force, why not dissolve NATO and create an alliance of countries with battlefield tested and battlefield proven militaries. It might be a smaller organization, but it would certainly be a more effective military alliance.
Afghanistan is going to get a lot uglier in the months ahead. When the US/NATO forces finally decide to move against the half a million acres of heroin poppies grown, this year, in that country, some three million more Afghan civilians will suddenly become “insurgents” and turn on the US/NATO fighting forces and take their places right alongside the Taliban.
So far, the US has been able to avoid that catastrophe by assigning the “war on drugs”, in Afghanistan, to the Afghanistan military forces. But it is obvious to everyone that is not working. So, sooner, or later, it will become necessary to napalm those fields of poppies and make an organized effort to destroy the nationwide organization behind the drug trade there. No one should be surprised at how high into the upper echelons of Afghanistan society the tentacles of that organization reach.
When the US finally does focus on Afghanistan, we will recognize that, suddenly, we have a “tufor” (“two-for”)… a war on terror… AND… a war on drugs, all wrapped up in an “un-pretty” package just waiting to be opened.
J. D. Longstreet
J.D. Longstreet’s commentaries can also be found
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Who Needs NATO?
By Alan Caruba
What I know about NATO, the North American Treaty Organization, you could put in a bug’s ear. Well, that’s not quite true. I do know the treaty was signed April 4, 1949. It was the result of Cold War fears that the Soviet Union represented a military threat to Europe.
A commentary by E. Wayne Merry that appeared in The Journal of International Security Affairs, “An Obsolete Alliance”, caught my eye. The author is a former State Department and Pentagon official who is now a Senior Associate of the American Foreign Policy Council.
Merry posed a question that had buzzed around in the back of my brain for a long time. Why is the United States still a member of NATO, an alliance that initially was intended to exist for twenty years, but whose life and mission has been expanding now for nearly sixty years? Since the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s and the Cold War is over, why does the U.S. or Europe need NATO?
“Over the years, NATO has turned its back on its inherently defensive and conservative origins to become a shameless hustler after engagements to justify its own perpetuation,” writes Merry. He quotes Manfred Woerner, its Secretary General in the early 1990s, who said that in order to survive NATO “must go out of area or go out of business.”
NATO was established by the Treaty of Washington and Merry points out that it was “purely defensive; nothing in it can legitimize use of force other than in response to a direct attack against its members. Article V, contrary to popular myth, does not even commit its members to the use of force.” As such, “NATO lost its basic raison d’etre years ago, as Europe’s need for American troops ended long before the Cold War did.”
Thus, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO was left without a threat or a legitimate purpose. Merry correctly reminds us that “It is axiomatic that nothing in government is so long lasting as temporary measures. Policies, programs and appropriations initiated to respond to a transitory issue take on lives of their own, spawning institutions which not only outlive their purpose, but themselves create new problems to justify their continued existence.”
Merry noted that “the collapse of Yugoslavia was a gift from heaven.” It supplied a rationale to become “an international peacemaking force, something its founders never conceived and the U.S. Senate never would have ratified.” I must confess that I never understood Clinton’s decision to initiate military action because, as Merry points out, “the Yugoslav wars did not compromise the security of the United States at all.”
Significantly, “Europe remains a net security consumer from America” despite the fact that its member nations maintain their own military capacity, organized on a national, rather than regional, basis; thus creating “vast duplication, overlap and waste of resources.”
In effect, Americans provide Europe a low-cost service that frees European public funds for more popular programs “such as subsidized health care and opera.” Why should the American budget underwrite a prosperous Europe with manpower and defense spending? Surely the European Union would not collapse if the American military was not on their continent.
Bluntly stated, “European purposes in NATO are clear; to subordinate American power and resources to their interests and to maintain a mechanism by which to constrain the United States.” The unhappiness of Europe with America’s projection of power in Afghanistan and Iraq is hardly a secret.
So, as NATO readies itself for its seventh decade, well beyond its original stated purpose and need, it is surely time for the next U.S. administration to consider ending this one-sided relationship. It has solved the conflicts that produced two world wars. There is no need for it to remain an American security protectorate.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, http://www.anxietycenter.com/. He blogs at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com/.
© Alan Caruba, July 2008