In less than a week, I’ll be debating gun control with international peace-educator, consultant and certified nonviolence trainer Dr. Arthur Romano at Penn State. Not to tip my hand (much) but I’ll be sure to point out that gun owners believe in non-violence. That’s why they carry a gun: to prevent violence. To themselves, but that’s OK, right? Anyway, there’s so much evidence supporting the positive impact of armed self-defense it’s hard to know which anecdotes are worth sharing. I like this one . . .
What to do about the troubling rise in piracy off the West African coast in the Gulf of Guinea? While East Africa’s piracy problem – most notably in Somalia – has been addressed after years of conflict and unrest, the seas off the coast of Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and neighbouring countries are presenting a new challenge for counter-piracy operators.
The defenseiq.com lead sums it up nicely—even though they forget to mention what “addressing the issue” actually means. For that, let’s check-in with a guest editorial recently published in nytimes.com:
One of the chief reasons for this drop is the increased action taken by commercial shipping companies to protect vessels traveling within the Indian Ocean. Best Management Practices for Protection Against Somalia Based Piracy, a set of periodically updated industry guidelines that provides recommendations for ship operators seeking to avoid hijack, are now being implemented on most vessels that belong to major shipping companies.
A far more controversial, but undeniably effective deterrent is the use of privately contracted armed guards aboard commercial vessels. Over the past five years, there has been an increasingly relaxed attitude by governments — including those of the United States and the United Kingdom — concerning their use.
Despite the “undeniably effective deterrent” created by shooting pirates, the article is titled With Somali Pirates, Pay the Ransom. No really.
The shipping industry has been proactive in advocating measures to avoid hijack, but it has also been unanimously vocal in arguing that if a ship is taken by Somali pirates, ship owners will continue to negotiate the payment of ransoms with the hijacker, as this is seen as the only effective means of getting out of the situation with lives and cargo intact
The lack of international consensus among policy makers, private companies and even European countries, some of which are notorious for publicly condemning ransoms while privately facilitating payments for their citizens, means that payments remain the most expedient way of overcoming thorny politics and diverse interests. The alternatives to ransoms are few, and none are without risk. Military intervention to free hostages considerably raises the risk to their lives. The exchange of prisoners for hostages can also be seen as a capitulation or reward..
Sigh. Some people just can’t face facts can they? Here’s hoping that some young minds can, and that I can present the right ones in the right way at the right time.