Avast, ye picaroons! If landlubber Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has his way, good ole American privateers will be set loose on ye wily pillaging Somali buccaneers and get all War of 1812 on yer booties. According to his yellow-tinged amateur YouTube video (seemingly recorded on a Betamax device preserved from the early 1980s in front of a motley assortment of reading material being balanced on a rickety bookshelf that is mounted on the wall of a faux-wood-paneled den in the Old Batty Cave), Ron advocates reinstating the archaic letters of marque and reprisal, last utilized in the early 19th century, to bring down these bilge-sucking blaggards.
(Please feel free to refer to the Pirate Glossary for all terminology)
Of course, things would have to be a little different these days. Privateers would no longer be able to possess the vessels and treasure they seize. In fact, the wealth of most of these renegade seadogs is no longer romantically secreted in chests full of golden doubloons destined to be buried in the briny deep, but gets wired into Swiss bank accounts as cold hard cash destined to be lavished on flashy sports cars, semi-automatics and saucy Somali wenches. Instead, our government would have to offer sizable bounties as incentives for capture. Much like the 25 million dollar one on the head of Osama Bin What's-His-Name.
Blimey! On second thought, using a colonial-era policy to solve a 21st-century problem might not be so legally hunky-dory with the rest of the planet, especially if we unbeknownst employ a backwater Blackwater to flog alleged marauders with a cat o' nine tails, feed them to the fish, or make them dance the hempen jig. Do we really want to trust these disparate conglomerations of ex-military, post-traumatic-stress-disordered servicemen, soldiers of fortune, and racist rednecks armed to the teeth (the ones they have left) looking for action outside the double-wide trailer park and five-and-dime to police international waters and be the minutemen of diplomacy? I mean I loved the A-Team too, but it was a TV show, not a model for global relations.
The African corsairs in question themselves consist mainly of local fisherman (the brains), ex-militia men (the brawn) and technical experts (GPS navigators). Many of them who, in addition to seeking independent wealth (73% of the Somalian population lives on a daily income below 2 dollars a day--with an estimated per capita GDP of $600/year for the entire country), hold a personal grudge due to the ten million tons of toxic waste dumped on their shores by European firms (causing highly elevated rates of radiation-related sicknesses among coastal inhabitants) and the 300 million dollars' worth of illegal trawling and poaching that takes place in their territorial waters (the pirates themselves only accumulate about 100 million dollars in ransom annually). So it's safe to assume they would rather visit Davy Jones' locker than surrender. No quarter!
Shiver me timbers! It seems we have quite a quandary here. Do we really want to dispatch mercenaries to further muddy the waters? Then again, me hearties, dead men tell no tales.
Follow Warren Holstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/WarrenHolstein