We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“Yes, just as homeowners with guns make home invasions less likely. Given that merchant vessels have been armed for nearly all of human history, the real surprise is that anyone finds this surprising. On the other hand, the near-elimination of piracy was a major accomplishment of the two centuries of British/American naval dominance that appears to be coming to an end. This is just one small way in which the world will pay a price.”

Glenn Reynolds, talking about the sharp fall in piracy attacks on vessels in the Indian Ocean since merchant ships began to use armed protection.

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Good quotation (good because true) – many thanks for presenting it J.P.

  • veryretired

    Yup, it looks doubtful those awful Americans can carry your load much longer. Not interested, and can’t afford it anyhow after copying your crazy politics for most of this last century.

    Good luck with the next guys—Russians or Chinese or whoever—you’re going to need it.

    Gee, maybe you’ll get really lucky and your buddies the Germans will re-arm and protect you.

    Anyway, it’ll be loads of fun to watch.

  • Actually I am really really fine with a more private approach to maritime security veryretired… and as I assume you are a US taxpayer, I would think you are too.

  • Laird

    As I understand it, one the reason most merchant ships have been unarmed is that maritime insurance companies have required it. Apparently they were concerned over lawsuits from pirates injured during the assaults (and, perhaps more reasonably, over the likely escalation of hostilities and increase in crew casualties if the ships were to begin fighting back). I hope that has changed now. Anyway, as to the former issue, the simple solution would be to sink attacking pirate vessels and take no prisoners. No witnesses and no evidence. Simple. Also, that is the appropriate penalty for piracy anyway.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I doubt a private approach will be effective, especially if pirates can up the ante by forming larger bands that can overcome any single ship. As a result, we may see a return to convoy style shipping, which in turn carries its own costs.

    After all, weren’t all ships, military or civilian, armed with cannons back in the Age of Sail? From Reynolds’ thesis, that would mean no piracy during that time.

  • James Strong

    A ruthless response to pirates.
    Sink their boats and let thenm walk home. If they succeed in walking home then they will be free to try again, but if they don’t make it the piracy lifestyle is denied to them. Permanently.
    As fewer and fewer pirates return home then fewer and fewer will set out.

  • Bill Brunton

    A gentleman said
    Who is clearly undead
    That It’s a pirates life for me

    He took from the rich
    Which was really a bitch
    til the United States Navy blew his rotten ass to smithreens…..Ho…Ho…Hoo..Ho

  • Cthulhu is my co-pilot

    til the United States Navy blew his rotten ass to smithreens…

    The US Navy hasn’t really been blowing the rotten asses of pirates to smithereens all too often Bill. It is more akin to a Somali “catch-and-release” program in reality.

  • veryretired

    Ah, Perry, you know as well as I do there’s two parts to Insta’s comment, and I was referring to the second part.

    I think all this politics and philosophizing has ruined your sense of humor.

  • PeterT

    Sink their boats and let thenm walk home


  • llamas

    Well, this is good news.


    It’s based on a few months of data. And a few hard men with man-portable weapons may well be enough to dissuade one part of the Somali piracy business.

    However, from what I have read, another part of the Somali piracy business involves well-organized, well-funded clan-based syndicates that see piracy as a business proposition and who may not take so kindly to having their large profits suddenly taken away from them. Perhaps we should wait a bit before declaring victory. Victory has been declared many a time in Somalia and neighboring regions. If I were in the business of organized piracy in Somalia, right now, I would be biding my time for the US, and the other major powers, to declare piracy dead, withdraw their naval forces and lose interest – as they always do.

    As we see in the Straits of Malacca, getting and keeping organized piracy at bay requires continuous and intensive patrols by heavily-armed, locally-based and -controlled naval vessels, and that will only happen when all neighboring nations have stable governments committed to eradicating piracy for the common good. It is a question of combined political will as much as it is an issue of armed force. Such conditions most-definitely do not exist anywhere around the Horn of Africa – quite the reverse – and so piracy will only be held at bay by the continued presence of heavy naval forces based far away and subject to the whims of governments that have no immediate stake in the region.

    Full marks to the security people doing this thankless work. Any reduction in piracy is a good thing. But the folks on the beach in Somalia have the ability to bring resources to bear that will completely-overwhelm this level of security, and I suspect that we will see a new phase in this endless problem, quite soon.



  • Mr Ed

    I suppose the major problem with piracy, if one assumes that pirates may be killed in cold blood, like an enemy soldier not hors de combat, is to destroy them in their lair without killing innocents.

    But if the cost of piracy becomes too high, would the pirates turn to some other crime, or abandon crime?

  • a_random_guy

    “the simple solution would be to sink attacking pirate vessels and take no prisoners. No witnesses and no evidence.”

    Indeed. There is no reason to handle pirates gently. Let them demonstrate their intent clearly – then sink them. The navies of the countries with shipping in the area can share the burden; also, the ships themselves should have a few trained people on board. Don’t squirt water at the pirates, squirt a couple of shoulder-launched, guided missiles.

  • Ljh

    Why isn’t sinking pirate ships and crews treated as self defence under international law?

  • Richard Thomas

    Ah, Somalia, always the “ace in the hole” of left-wingers who don’t have a real argument against minimal government. One day I’d love to see a bunch of individualists tool up, head over there and install a minarchist government. That would shut their pie-holes. Especially when the economy shot through the roof in the ensuing years.