Monday, February 28, 2011

The "Cowboy Way"

There was an interesting "guest editorial" in a local small city paper recently, apparently by a regular citizen without journalistic experience.

It embodies the problem-solving gap in this country, substituting one-dimensional swagger and bravado for informed, nuanced solutions.

First off, though terribly tragic, the occupants of the Quest would be alive today had they followed the guidelines to stay in the outer shipping lanes far off the East Africa coast. Sure, it's their "right" to sail where ever they want in international waters; much as it's my right to walk across the street with a green light while a car is running a red light.

Second, violent escalation will not only fail to solve this issue, it will make it much worse. This is not a collection of street gangs in the image of West Side Story. The folks behind this are well organized syndicates who have access to lots of big weapons, and we're playing in their backyard. They make hundreds of millions off this biz, and have no qualms taking it up a few notches. The kids they send out to sea have no other options, are expendable, are seeing money beyond their wildest dreams, and are plentiful.

Third, the writer naively and conveniently ignores 2 other things: The killing of just a few pirates in this latest incident drew a swift and disproportional response, they are nearly tripling the number of personnel and weapons on ships currently being held, and are threatening to kill more hostages. Oh, and then there's that other nasty fact that they currently hold about 35 vessels and crews (they have little incentive to keep them alive, it's labor intensive, expensive, and they still have the ships as leverage). Do the math.

A John Wayne imitation is simple to do. Solving complex, real world problems is far more sticky.

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