Finally: Japan Sends In the Navy to Fight Somali Pirates
One topic that interests me, and that I comment on periodically at my blog, is the re-emergence of the scourge of piracy. I mean real piracy on the high seas, not boot-legged copies of Kung Fu Panda 2 or counterfeit Viagra. I’m attracted to the subject for a variety of reasons: my fascination with the sea, the shipping industry and the history of sea-borne trade principally. What also fascinates me about the latest incarnation of modern piracy, is the gargantuan asymmetry between the resources of pirates and the pirated, the amazing fact that those with meager resources are winning, and what it says about the state of the world.
Illiterate pirates in small fiberglass boats with some guns and some modest communications/navigation equipment can steal $100 million vessels with $200 million cargoes on board. (The more sensationalist media likes to portray these Somali pirate gangs as “sophisticated” and using “advanced technologies”, but this is giving them too much credit. They are sophisticated in the sense that they have gear that the average illiterate Somali doesn’t have; but let there be no doubt, they lack anything even close to the technology that the shipping industry has and what the leading sea-faring nations have. The asymmetry is worse than soldiers with swords on horseback going up against Panzer divisions.)
The issue of piracy for me is a civilizational barometer, a measure of our cultural confidence; and, currently the meter is barely registering…our cultural confidence is at a low ebb.
But it looks like things might be starting to turn…slowly. The Japanese – who never send in the navy – are sending in the navy.
DJIBOUTI, Djibouti, May 11 (UPI) — Japan plans to establish a $40 million strategic naval base in the Horn of Africa state of Djibouti, where U.S. and French forces are deployed to combat al-Qaida jihadists.
The facility, intended to boost the fight against Somali pirates preying on vital shipping lanes, will be Japan’s first foreign military base since World War II.