Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Their whole life is a First-Person Shooter.

Marko has a post up on the pirates' fist-shaking threats against U.S. ships and sailors.

A commenter stated
At the risk of sounding a bit like a bleeding heart, this idiocy is liable to lead to a lot of dead seamen and a lot of dead 16-year-old kids with AKs before the bastards who’re sending them out get the bill.
...which I think misapprehends the nature of the situation in that corner of Africa, which is more something out of a bad William Golding acid trip set to the staccato beat of automatic weapons fire. I don’t think this is like the Somme or Verdun, where there is some Haig or Falkenhayn at home to be JDAM’ed. If anything, this mess is caused by a more or less total lack of adult supervision in the world’s second most notorious arms bazaar; a real-life Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, only with RPG's.

P.J. O’Rourke described flying over Mogadishu and looking down at all the buildings without roofs and realizing it was like a giant game of CLUE, except the answer was “Everybody. With an AK-47.


Dr. StrangeGun said...

I fail to see how a lot of seamen will die. Given the navy, they'll (I'll, too) be perfectly happy parked just off the coast performing shore bombardment.

If we brought back the Iowa class, filled it to the brim with Mk13VC shells and sent it on it's way, one magazine's worth of bombardment would clear 1300 900yd diameter circles out of wherever they want...

Sit down and figure what the effect would be of a 2700 pound FAE or metal augnmented thermobaric would be, and multiply my 1300. Why don't we have 16"/50 cals on any ships anymore? Could be a barge with a turret for all I care, we could use a cheap heavy shore bombardment platform.

staghounds said...

Everyone forgets old Falky!

The Iowa?

"Flies? #$%^ that flyswatter, I have napalm!"

atlharp said...

<"If anything, this mess is caused by a more or less total lack of adult supervision in the world’s second most notorious arms bazaar; a real-life Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, only with RPG's." i>

F'ing awesome Tam! What an image of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys going around with AK's and RPG's. I can see Tinkerbell strapped with Banana clips and three RPG rockets on her back........too funny!

Heath said...

Another thing that most people miss, is that this is AFRICA! You can't look at it through the same western lens as you do things here (similar to folks not understanding the Mid East)

Google up Kim du Toit's excellent essay, "Let Africa Sink", if you want to better understand Africa from an African's perspective.

Just my $.02

og said...

PJ O' always has something amusing to say, and as often as not it's poignant and hilarious. Nice quote.

Anonymous said...

Mistah Kurtz, he dead

"Once, I remember, we came upon
a man-of-war anchored off the coast. There wasn't even a shed there, and
she was shelling the bush. It appears the French had one of their wars
going on thereabouts. Her ensign dropped limp like a rag; the muzzles
of the long eight-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy,
slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin
masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was,
incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the
eight-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little
white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble
screech--and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch
of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the
sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me
earnestly there was a camp of natives--he called them enemies!--hidden
out of sight somewhere."

J. Conrad Heart Of Darkness

Other side of Africa, but it's the same.

Wolfwood said...

Shore bombardment is not an acceptable solution. We're not talking about slaver fortresses but villages. Would any of us advocate the bombing of New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago (tempting as it may sometimes be...)? Of course not; there are too many innocents there who have nothing to do with the problem for that solution to be reasonable.

I do like the idea of boiling tar, though.

Jenny said...

Miss D was making a similar point about the city gang culture she encountered. Or rather, less that it was a taught, inculcated culture - but instead a lack of teaching the fundamentals of culture*. Humanity gone feral.

Provided that's true, it doesn't leave many options. And fewer still that are morally comfortable.

* "Mine vs Yours" for instance.

T.Stahl said...

Africa: Seal it off until it re-develops something resembling civilization.

John A said...

Related, do the pirates only target "gun-free zone" ships?

Well, yes, except for the occasional stupid pleasure yacht. It isn't hard - if it is a cargo ship, it is unarmed.

alath said...

Quote: {Related, do the pirates only target "gun-free zone" ships?
Well, yes, except for the occasional stupid pleasure yacht. It isn't hard - if it is a cargo ship, it is unarmed.}

This makes me think of the WWI German Seeadler or WWII Atlantis. Innocent-appearing merchant ships carrying a surprise cargo of whoop-ass.

A few of these patrolling the area as bait could shoot some sense into the Somalis, it would seem.

Gregg said...

If New York or LA were pirate havens where the pirates decided to piss off the biggest, nastiest military in the world, I would advocate bombing the snot out of them. OTOH, anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have decided that Ohio or Colorado was nice that time of year and headed that direction, by shanks mare if necessary.

Force is the only universal language, as much as we would like to think otherwise.

fast richard said...

As long as piracy is a profitable and fairly safe business, it will continue. If more pirates die without collecting any money, they will start to rethink their plans. Their infrastructure, as I understand it consists mostly of supply ships, which funtion as a base of operations more than any location on land. Their attack boats and supply ships would both seem like fair game to me.

That level of targeting would limit the number of innocents in the line of fire, and I'm sure we have the neccessary weapons. I wonder if we have the governmental resolve to see the project through to a conclusion.

staghounds said...

Problem- pirates in little boats.

Tool- sailors on each American cargo ship with little-boat-sinking equipment.

Solution- sink all little boats which approach cargo ships. After challenge and warning, if convenient.

We could even offer this service to cargo ships of foreign registry. And charge for it!

Night vision, a couple of M2s, and a do2en sailors could handle any Somali pirate skiff- the perfect term- or combination thereof. As could any helicopter, unless the weather was bad. In which case the skiffs couldn't work, either.

We have the perfect hammer, and the pirates are only a bunch of 2d finishing nails. WHY do people want us to overreact ineffectively, make more enemies, and get into the only kind of war we can lose? (Remember, so far it's Somali Warlords 1, United States Department of Defense, 0.)

It's like that jackass in every gun permit course who just can't wait to shoot someone.

reflectoscope said...

The pirates have nothing a few well-managed Sea Cobras couldn't fix.

(Other than an obviously out-of-his-depth pantywaist on the other side of the table.)


Anonymous said...

These "Pirates" (Blackbeard would be ashamed) are sent out by somebody. That somebody:
1. has the monopoly un crime for that village.
2. Has the power to get them to go, probably beyond religious fervor.
3. Accepts PayPal or any other negotiable asset.
4. Deserves to be cremated alive by whatever means are convenient.


Anonymous said...

just musin', here...
Warlord and Rich-Thug Overseer Hunt.
Eye in the Sky....[ship based?]

1. sees expensive SUV parked at compound -- ORDERS: 'evaporate one'.

2. result: level and clear acreage in the wasteland, sans habitation or inhabitants.

3. mission continues to next compound with parked expensive SUV[s]-- repeat 'evaporate one'

and so on, along the Somali coast and for some distance inland.

Once 'destinations' are getting scarce, and the anthill is panicky, then target any moving vehicle that seems to meet the eyeball qualifier of Terrorist Transportation.

Or, of what use is extorted money, when y'r a cinder? Make overlording and thug supervisor a very short term career choice.

Relatively USA-painless, and cheap elimination of Command and Control Centers.

BTW, Gwynne Dwyer, the gun and USA hating English columnist, suddenly thinks that the USA is good enough for being the world's pirate killers. Seems we 'have the resources'. WTF ever happened to ol' Hail Brittania, that usta kick pirate butt quite well, Dwyer?

sympecet -- a species of wimp-assed Brit columnists, brave with other county's lives and money.

John, the Red

Wolfwood said...


Do we know that all the people in these villages are giving aid and comfort to the enemy? Are some of them just too poor/crippled to go elsewhere?

Will shore bombardment make the "neutrals" say "Screw the pirates! Let's get them out of here!" or will they say "These scumbag foreigners are killing my daughters because they don't care enough to fight fair and go after the actual pirates. Screw them; I'm helping the pirates."

I have no idea which they'd choose. However, I do think that the people who want to oust the pirates could do so then they would have done so by now.

I suspect that a better solution would be to find a few warlords and say something like "I see you're making $X every year from piracy. For each rival syndicate you give us the information to take down, we'll pay you $X. Also, we'll pay you $X each year to keep your nose clean and a further $X to run (under our observation) aid programs."

Ultimately, though, it becomes a cost-benefit analysis. At some point, shore bombardment will be seen as the best option.

Anonymous said...

A rubber dinghy royally fucked up the USS Cole. If you're going to war, put your forces on alert first, including the civilians. We keep having a problem with that.

Keep in mind that our current fleet is thin-skinned. "This-war-itis" does not run to recommissioning battlewagons, reagardless of our need. RPG's are bad news with no hull armor. If you're not actively engaged in sweeping the sea with high technology, you are a sitting duck.

I'm waiting for the French and British to blame this on our not showing up for Suez in '56. "Wot no Yanks"--Anthony Burgess.

Larry said...

The Somali Warlords defeated Bill Clinton, not the US Army. The Army completed it's mission, even without the armor support they requested. Another example of the civilian leadership snatching defeat out of the jaws of military victory.
There are no innocent civilians in a war zone. Once you start thinking there are, you set yourself up to lose. That's why war is hell. The innocents head away from the war zones post haste.
Before you bring up that "moral high ground" let me say this, show me someone who will fight fair and I'll show you someone I can beat the snot out of.

Mark said...

I was more lamenting the lack of heads on the hydra, as you so concicely put it Tam. As you say, there's no Big Warlord to lob a bomb at.

As to it resulting in a lot of deaths? Well, yup. That's a given. Unless every single boat in the region's got a naval escort with standing orders to waste every smallcraft that comes within a half-mile of shipping, then some Tango is probably going to make good on the threat sooner or later.

As fun as it is to think about taking the State-class battleships out of mothballs and raining Volkswagen-sized shells down on the area - and believe you me, it is fun - it's also kinda unlikely. A flock of Predators or Reapers is more likely, but even then it's a bunch more like fighting an infection than fighting a war. To be honest, the only solution I can think of that's going to keep American lives safest is to just cut off trade to the area and leave it alone as a bad job.

Ho hum. What can ya do? Oh, and my waist hasn't fit in panties since '04, reflectoscope. Thank Gh0d for Spandex.

Tam said...


"To be honest, the only solution I can think of that's going to keep American lives safest is to just cut off trade to the area..."

Yeah, but that's the problem. The trade that goes through there doesn't stop there; it's on its way to real trading destinations like the Persian Gulf or the Suez.

Stopping traffic near the Horn would be like shutting down the M1 because the natives were restless in Ashfield.

Mark said...

In which case, all I can hope is that the SEALs and other armed forces keep up their excellent work. As much as I'd love to see merchies "allowed" (spit, spit) to arm themselves, the ports of this world mainly seem to be all hoplophobic, even when it doesn't make any damned sense.

Again, with the problem being more akin to fighting an infection than fighting a war.