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
The UN Celebrates “Palestinians”, Hates Jews
By Alan Caruba
On Monday, November 24, the United Nations will commemorate its annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People”, a hate-filled day that ignores its own role in the establishment of Israel.
An international institution that trumpets its Universal Declaration of Human Rights while openly seeking the destruction of the population of one of its member nations is so inherently debased that it should cease to exist.
The notion that the United States of America should continue to participate in the UN on the grounds that it is the only forum or means to resolve conflicts is absurd.
Monday’s observance marks November 29, 1947, the day that the United Nations voted to establish a Jewish and an Arab state in what was formerly the Palestinian Mandate whose administration had been ceded to Great Britain following the end of World War One.
The State of Israel was not created out of “Palestinian” lands. It was part of the Ottoman Empire that had ruled much of the Middle East for four hundred years and which, at the Versailles conference following the end of WWI, was divided into nations conjured up by England and France. Among the newly designated nations were Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.
There were no “Palestinian” people claiming a land called Palestine. Most of the Arabs regarded themselves as living in the southern portion of Syria.
The 1947 UN partition plan mandated the creation of two states on the remaining twenty percent of the Palestine Mandate. There was to be the State of Israel for the Jews and a new state for the Arabs.
What happened, however, was that the Arabs rejected a state of their own and launched a genocidal war against Israel. The war was the primary cause of the Arab refugee problem that exists today because none of the Arab nations in the region would accept the refugees and the UN facilitated their permanent status and continues to do so today.
There were, however, Jewish refugees. Between 1949 and 1954, an estimated 800,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab and Muslims lands where they had lived for hundreds of years. In addition, many European Jews who had survived the Nazi Holocaust migrated to Israel. Later they would be followed by the persecuted Jews of Russia and other lands.
On Monday afternoon, the UN General Assembly will convene to discuss the “Question of Palestine” and if this is redolent of the Nazi “Final Solution” the comparison is accurate. The General Assembly is scheduled to adopt six resolutions condemning only Israel for violations of human rights. This will bring the total thus far this year to twenty such resolutions as opposed to four resolutions critical of any of the remaining 191 UN member nations.
Israel is not “occupying” land that belongs to a Palestinian state because no such state exists. It has occupied land won repeatedly in combat for its very existence. In recent years it ceded the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Liberation Authority, Fatah, but the result has been that Hamas drove Fatah from Gaza at gunpoint and now uses it to launch rockets against Israel on a daily basis. The West Bank, by any international standard, is a legitimate part of Israel.
The Arabs who did not flee Israel in 1947 were the lucky ones. They were able to remain in the only functioning, true democracy in the Middle East and today their children and grandchildren number more than a million Israel citizens, some of whom serve in the Israeli Knesset or parliament, on the Israeli Supreme Court benches, and as tenured professors in Israeli colleges and universities.
The United Nations continues to promulgate the most offensive anti-Semitism found anywhere in the world and Monday’s observance is just one aspect of it. Its “Durban II” conference on racism to be held in Geneva in April 2009 will be a repeat of the hateful first conference that was boycotted by several nations, including the United States. It should be condemned and avoided by all nations that take the professed UN Human Rights declaration at its word.
Those attending Monday’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People should be hosed down and driven from the chambers where it is held. The General Assembly should be seen for what it is, a place of shame, duplicity, and genocidal hatred in which no civilized nation should take its seat.
November 24, 2008
Afghanistan Will Be Another Vietnam
By Alan Caruba
The next President of the United States of America must decide whether to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan or expand our involvement there. Having lived through the long years of the war in Vietnam, I can tell you that Afghanistan looks and smells like Vietnam. It is the classic wrong war in the wrong place.
In late October, I read a small news item about Parwiz Kambakhsh, 24, an Afghan journalism student who had downloaded and circulated an article about women’s rights under Islam. The news was that his sentence of death had been overturned by an appellate court that reduced it to a mere twenty years in prison on the charge of blasphemy. He can still appeal to the Supreme Court of Afghanistan. This is the state of freedom of speech, press, and thought in Afghanistan.
If you want to know what life was like in the seventh century, Afghanistan is the place to go. It is largely devoid of anything passing for modernity, by which we mean medical facilities, schools, roads, and such. Never mind the telephones and other detritus of modern life, the conversations have not changed in centuries.
Afghanistan shares a long border with Pakistan and Iran. Also bordering it is Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Turkistan, and Tajikistan. None of these places is a tourist destination. All are Islamic.
The only reliable element of Afghanistan’s economy is poppy cultivation for the opium trade which the CIA estimates generates “roughly $4 billion in illicit economic activity.” This is another way of saying that none of this money reaches what passes for a central government except in the form of bribes. It is a major source of funding for the Taliban.
Few Americans were interested in Afghanistan until September 11, 2001. We have had a military presence there for seven years, along with NATO nation components. Much like the “military advisors” that initiated our involvement in Vietnam, today’s generals are calling for more troops.
Afghanistan has been conquered and occupied since the days of Alexander the Great. Nothing much comes of it. It remains a mystery why they bothered. Putting too few or too many troops into Afghanistan does little except to demonstrate the futility of trying to impose one’s will on people who have resisted every such effort for centuries.
Founded as a nation in 1747 when Ahmad Shah Durrani unified the Pashtun tribes, Afghanistan was primarily seen as a buffer between the British and Russian empires. Democracy, as in most Middle Eastern nations, has never taken root there.
It became the graveyard of the Soviet empire after they intervened militarily in 1979 to support a tottering Afghan Communist regime. After they withdrew in 1989, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It is now known as the Russian Federation. It is still run by the former KGB. And one wonders why anyone in the U.S. government thinks any good can come of being there?
The Taliban took control after the Russians left and Osama bin Laden found a congenial place in which to plan 9/11. That’s why the first U.S. response to the attack occurred in Afghanistan as U.S., allied, and an anti-Taliban Northern Alliance of tribes were able to drive the Taliban across the border into the frontier provinces of Pakistan and elsewhere.
The U.S. effort to create a democratic government there began with a new constitution and, in December 2004, the election of Hamid Karzai as president. He barely controls Kabul, the capitol. The southern and eastern regions are still beyond control.
In essence, the rule of law barely exists in Afghanistan, if at all, unless you factor in Sharia law which reflects a seventh century approach to justice. The government and all aspects of official life in Afghanistan are so corrupt that even President Karzai’s brother is allegedly on the take.
I am not a military strategist, an expert in foreign affairs, or can lay claim to much more than common sense, so I confess it defies my understanding why the United States and our NATO allies are in Afghanistan. Expecting democracy to succeed in such a primitive and hostile place seems more a justification for military occupation than anything else. The whole place is tribal.
Other than his distaste for our invasion of Iraq and disposal of Saddam Hussein, it is baffling that Barack Obama says that Afghanistan is the “central front” against al Qaeda. The CIA says it has no bases there. The Taliban—outsiders just like us–have their own agenda as seen in their effort to render the place a complete and total Islamic hellhole.
Little wonder, therefore, that word keeps getting out that both English and French military leaders regard Afghanistan as virtually beyond any hope without putting a far greater number of troops there. Millions are being spent as it is. Between 2002 and 2007, Germany spent $80 million to reform its police corps. The U.S. has budgeted $800 million for 2008 to assist its security forces.
In early October, General Jean-Louis Geogelin, France’s military chief, confirmed that British Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith remarks that “there is no military solution to the Afghan crisis” reflected his own views. The Brigadier recommended that NATO lower its expectations regarding a happy outcome to the conflict. It was, he said, “unrealistic and probably incredible” to think that the multinational forces in Afghanistan could rid the country of armed bands.
There are two occupations available to the Afghans. One can either be a farmer raising poppies or one can join an armed band, be it either the government’s, one’s tribe, or the Taliban’s.
In an October 1, 2008 Christian Science Monitor article, it was reported that “The U.S. military is working to put a new strategy in place for Afghanistan and Pakistan that could allow it to expand airfields, preposition military forces and equipment, and prepare for a more robust effort soon against Islamist extremists in the region.” Four more U.S. brigades are poised to be sent to Afghanistan, including one that will deploy in January.
I have my own military strategy. Let’s pull our troops out of Afghanistan and, with their permission, let’s keep enough troops in Iraq to ensure that its government can maintain its security and as a deterrent for any conflict Iran might initiate in the region.
The United States of America has a full plate of problems right now. Expending troops and treasure in Afghanistan strikes me as a bad investment in a very nasty place. It is an invitation to repeat the all the errors of Vietnam.
© Alan Caruba, November 2008