Monday, April 13, 2009

The War On Piracy Was Won On Land

We are still rejoicing over the rescue of Captain Phillips but we need to look forward to the long fight against piracy.

I am on record of arming merchant ships but history tells us that this is only part of it. History tells us that piracy ended because the Navies of the world, with the British Navy in the lead, took the fight to the ports where those ships came from.

There are reasons for that, a merchant ship had a small crew, with only a few guns. They were slow, due to heavy loads. Pirates had fast ships, large crews and plenty of cannon. The pirates would slash down, dis mast the merchantman, board and take the best of the cargo, any women, anyone worth ransoming and kill everyone else.

Now it's hard to enjoy anything but the women and the rum at sea so any successful pirate got to shore at first chance, to sell the cargoes and enjoy their (temporary) riches. The most famous, at least to westerners, of these pirate ports was Port Royal. This was the only one that wasn't destroyed by a Navy, but by an earthquake.

The rest of them were wiped out by Naval cannon and shore parties. Most of these were in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean Sea and the western Atlantic. Including places in what is now the United States. Captain Kidd operated around Long Island. Jean Lafitte from the bayous near New Orleans.

We all know the story of "The shores of Tripoli". Without taking anything from Decatur and Lt. Presley O'Bannon it was mostly the Brits that put paid to most of these pirate fortresses. I don't recall the US Navy doing much in the Pacific back then. And it was the Brits that took out the ones in the Caribbean. Not to mention the heavy lifting in North Africa.

To end these pirates we must go to the places where they go to spend their wealth. We must do this in the Philippines, in those choke points in Indonesia, and on the Horn of Africa. It would be nice if we could get the Brits involved and the Chinese. Especially the Chinese, I'd like our guys to have a close look at China's new Navy for a couple of reasons.

Last, I want to see if the Captain of the Bainbridge gets promoted on time or has to take retirement soon. This will give the really definitive look at how serious this administration is about this problem. Bear in mind there are many who do not believe in shooting the bad guys.

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