Farce in Togo

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.


  1. avatar akira says:

    This sounds familiar… “just give them what they want and they won’t hurt you!”

    1. avatar B says:

      Take whatever you want from the girl, just don’t hurt me.

  2. avatar William Burke says:

    “Non-violence”. Just be calm, now… don’t struggle… just be calm and quiet, now… it’ll all be over in a little while….

    I WILL NOT go quietly! I will not stand in file and await my death, my enslavement, my whatever-you-have-in-mind. I’m STANDING! Shoot me NOW, you MOTHERF….! I will NOT die on my knees! DO IT NOW!!!

  3. avatar James St. John says:

    Start by beating him with a wiffel ball bat and don’t stop till he non-violently stops you. Just to prove a point.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      I am liking the wiffel ball bat concept. I would have thought a regular wood or metal bat would be better but the wiffel ball bat has a much greater insult factor.

      I can hear the conversation around the water cooler the next day …
      Coworker: Say John, how did you get that black eye and stitches on your forehead?
      John: I was debating gun control and the other guy beat the [email protected] out of me with a wiffel ball bat to illustrate a point.
      Coworker: (hysterical laughter and spraying water all over)

    2. avatar percynjpn says:

      Good idea.

    3. avatar LongBeach says:

      The mental imagery going on right now is fantastic. Thank you. And yes, it’s a stellar idea.

    4. avatar TTACer says:

      The big red ones for toddlers would be perfect.

  4. avatar NS says:

    will this debate be available on video?

    1. avatar Chip says:

      Pay per view?

  5. avatar Bigred2989 says:

    My guess as to why they want to pay the ransom is so they don’t have to deal with the international courts over murder charges if a pirate gets killed by an armed guard. Stories of thieves or their families suing the person defending themselves are common here in the US and cost a lot of time and money on both sides. Imagine the kind of settlement that a shipping company would have to pay out if they(unlikely) lost, not to mention all tge lawyer fees.

    1. avatar Piet Padkos says:

      You have to wonder as to whether the courts see the bullshit irony in that case. Also, they could just bring a bunch of RPG-7’s to blow up the pirate ship after killing them all. It’s kind of hard to file a murder charge if everyone on your side is DEAD. RPG’s are very available here in Africa and if anyone found the wreckage they would just assume the pirates screwed up while playing with their new ordnance.

      There. Problem solved.

      1. avatar William Burke says:


        You can say what you please
        I say “DEATH TO PIRATES!”

        1. avatar JaredFromTampa says:


        2. avatar William Burke says:

          A friend of mine wrote that song. Except it was “Death to Thieves”!

      2. avatar John Fritz says:

        Nice. One of those rare solutions with no downsides.

      3. avatar Glenn in USA says:

        RPG’s ditto. BTW, I’d love to have a few, just for protection from the neighborhood cats.

      4. avatar Glenn in USA says:

        RPG’s ditto. BTW, I’d love to have a few, just for protection from the neighborhood cats.

        So Robert you are going to debate Arthur Romano?


  6. avatar paultmccain says:

    Will be fun to watch how the depict the US Navy Seals in action.

    1. avatar NEIOWA says:

      Will be shown as all off playing in Obuma’s Wag the Dog war on Syria.

  7. avatar Jeff says:

    This pirating thing has never made sense to me. Can’t the ships spend a little more fuel and travel farther off the coasts so that these little boats could never have enough fuel to get to them? Second I know some of the various ports of call forbid weapons, so couldn’t an enterprising company meet them in international waters and put a few ex-seals on board with some nice tools to defend themselves and then pick them up prior to the next port of call? How hard would it be for a few ex-special forces to keep these guys from getting near the ship. Also if they shoot the SOB’s that far off shore who would know or care? No report needs to be filed.

    1. avatar Stinkeye says:

      “Can’t the ships spend a little more fuel and travel farther off the coasts so that these little boats could never have enough fuel to get to them?”

      The problem with that, at least around Somalia, is the Gulf of Aden. It’s very narrow, and ships don’t have any choice but to get within “piracy range” if they’re going to cut through the Red Sea and Mediterranean. If you’re shipping goods between, say, England and India, it takes a lot more fuel to go all the way around the African continent to avoid those pinch points. That’s one of the reasons piracy became so rampant there – a target-rich environment.

      Also, larger pirate rings sometimes use a larger fishing boat or the like as a base of operations, and send the little Zodiac inflatables to attack once they’re in range.

    2. avatar William Burke says:

      I don’t know why even Special Forces guys are required to such a job. Put three or four guys such as you or me on board, with the proper weaponry, we work in watches. Okay, maybe eight, two on watch at a time. Binoculars, night vision equipment. Some shoulder-fired missiles, some .308s. A SAW fore and aft; why in the world wouldn’t THAT take care of a boatload of pirates?

      I’m retired. I’ll work for a reasonable fee, six months on, six off, or whatever, for $25K/yr. The cargo’s worth MILLIONS. High seas. Salt. Spray. Sunburn. What’s the issue?

    3. avatar paultmccain says:

      After seeing the advert for the movie it dawned on me it has been a LONG time since I’ve even heard of a Somali pirate incident.

      I did some quick research and the pirate business has gone into a real slump and will probably declaring Chapter 11.

      Seems all they had to do was take on a few skilled soldiers of fortune on the ships and … presto … pirate problem gone.

      Funny how they didn’t figure this out a few years ago.

      1. avatar Jus Bill says:

        Shipping industry execs work with margins of a mil per mile. It takes a major casualty to get them to change their methods. I remember reading about piracy off Africa as being a shipping problem that needed to be addressed in a security trade journal back in the early 90s.

    4. avatar Sid says:

      The pirates are/were operating from larger vessels as a base of operations. They would float out into traffic lanes and launch smaller craft to make contact.

      The problem is one that is very easy to rectify. It is unbelievably cheap for the shipping companies to solve. Contract guards. A hand launched drone for distant visual recognition. A scope on a large caliber rifle. This is too easy. The pirates are operating hand to mouth. The only resource they have in abundance is cheap labor and that is easily counteracted by sucking chest wounds. It gets hard to recruit the successive waves of volunteer pirates when the older brothers never survive that first mission.

  8. avatar C says:

    They have certifications on how to curl up in a ball?

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Oh, man…. nice.

    2. avatar gyrfalcon says:

      Yes they do. I’ll train you if you want but it won’t be cheap. It’s also useful in bear attacks and other stressful situations.

  9. Open carriers believe in non-violence, they use their firearm as a deterrent. Concealed carriers hope that some unsuspecting thug attacks them so they may use their gun.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Please tell me you’re joking.

      1. avatar twency says:

        He’s joking.

        He’s flipping around the oft-seen insulting sentiment that “open carry means you’re looking for trouble” to show its error.

    2. avatar JoshtheViking says:

      Open carriers make themselves the first target of any would be assailant or active shooter.

      Also, your statement is like saying that any trained martial artist that doesn’t wear a gi and a black belt everywhere is looking to beat up someone.

      Note: I’m not against open carrying. I just think carrying concealed is the wiser choice.

    3. avatar Russ Bixby says:


      When I install a security system, following the show and tell, I hit a few keys and then the customer types in their code while I look elsewhere; the code is none of my business.

      I then tell them “The system is now yours. May it serve you well, and may you never need it.”

      That last is precisely the intent of carry, open or concealed.

      What a fu¢king moron.

      1. avatar Cliff H says:

        Russ, How many of those security systems are “concealed”? It’s possible some are, but almost every system I’ve ever heard about they immediately post signs on the lawn and stickers on the windows warning that the place has an alarm. That’s “open carry” in my book, and thieves do not automatically assume if there’s an alarm there must be something pretty valuable inside worth taking a risk to get. Mostly I think they just move down the block to the first place without any signs or stickers.

  10. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Remember the most important truth when you are debating the other guy. Gun control insults the human dignity of the would-be armed citizens: it tells the armed citizens that they cannot possess personal property of their choosing. Rather, the would-be armed citizen must get approval from some group whether the group is law enforcement, legislature, or even the masses. That is demeaning.

    Aside from the insulting, demeaning nature of gun control in terms of possessing personal property of our own choosing, it also denies people from possessing tools that are extremely effective for self defense. That raises the insult factor to a whole new level because it says that the would-be armed citizen’s life is not important.

    Throw that out and watch the civilian disarmament proponent flail miserably.

    1. avatar JaredFromTampa says:


  11. avatar Wood says:

    Leonard Embody
    September 13, 2013
    “Open carriers believe in non-violence, they use their firearm as a deterrent. Concealed carriers hope that some unsuspecting thug attacks them so they may use their gun.”

    Excuse you? Go fish. I hope CCW turns out to be a total waste of time and money, just like insurance.

    1. avatar JoshtheViking says:


    2. avatar William Burke says:

      Wow. You know… I agree! CCW is, in a way, a method of marginalizing and cowing gun owners. So F*ck this collaboration #*[email protected]#!

  12. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Deter them with sonic cannon.

    If that fails and they come close, kill them.

    If they succeed, pay the ransom. Then, after the exchange, call in a napalm strike.


    1. avatar William Burke says:

      Russ: probably out of the range of a napalm strike, and what’s the incentive for a foreign country to do one?

      This sonic cannon, though, is a prime idea. I thought I read it was actually being implemented on some cargo ships. Did I dream this?

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        It’s in place, and works well.

        My other favorite non-violent strategy is the armored “battle bridge” in which the crew can hole up safe from any weapon or tool with plenty of siege rations, and from which they still control the ship.

        The pirates can occupy the craft, but it does them no good and help arrives long before they can breach the armored sections.

        I suppose that a U.S.S. Cole type attack out of spite might be a problem, though. Fortunately, we’re not talking the brightest and best, here.

        1. avatar William Burke says:

          Yeah, I guess it’s more like the feckless and the unimaginative. If you’re of the habitual type, novel solutions seem to come hard.

  13. avatar Allen Smith says:

    Let him have it Robert, you win the debate.


  14. avatar zem says:

    Hopefully you will have somebody record it so you dont have to rely on the college to give you a copy, also please record it not only do i love a good debate i want to see all the opositions points. I often have my friends play devils advocate so i can logically and calmly inform people of the TTAG.

  15. avatar gs650g says:

    There is no place like the ocean for trying out a Barrett 50 bmg semi auto. Two or three heads come apart and them boats would head for shore.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      I agree; a Barrett .50 seems like a small investment. How about TWO, fore and aft? It’s the HIGH SEAS, fer chrissakes! The pirates know no law, so why should the shippers?

      The problem seems to be the errant thinking that “we have to be above them in our tactics”. No tactics, no shipping; kill the effers and send them to the bottom of the sea!

      Hey, whatever happened to them pirate dudes we knew?

      1. avatar Piet Padkos says:

        Well if we’re going to completely ignore the law, it is international waters after all, load them 50’s up with tracer, Hydra API and DU rounds. Who cares if they go straight through soft targets? They’ll still blow up part of the ship so it’s ok.

        Do it because you can, f#@k Geneva and their little convention. And Hogue should only be grips, not war limitations. (yes I know it’s ‘Hague’)

  16. avatar Tom says:

    I’ve spent too much of my life working to combat piracy to believe that crap about paying the ransom. You pay it, then they demand more. This goes on for 6-9 months before they finally get tired of holding your crew. Then you’re stuck not only paying a crew that hasn’t worked for months, but your insurance goes through the roof.

  17. avatar Erik says:

    I love the good Dr’s bio

    “certified non-violence trainer” seriously? you just can’t make this sh!t up…..

    what the hell non-violence concept do you need a certified instructor to learn?

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      “Don’t resist; just lie back and enjoy the ride!”

      1. avatar B says:

        The single best way to reduce rape is to teach rapists to be better at sex. If the victim enjoyed it it wasn’t rape, then the police can lower those reported crime stats. Everybody wins, except the raped, which seems to be what these people want.

        1. avatar Jus Bill says:

          What the hell non-violence concept do you need a certified instructor to learn?

          That a Liberal Arts degree will guarantee you a secure future?
          Roll over and surrender?

        2. avatar Julian says:

          WTF?!? If there was a victim, it was rape. If it was not consensual, it was rape. It doesn’t matter if the victim happened to receive any amount of physical pleasure, if it wasn’t consensual, it was rape. Period. Rapists don’t need to be “better at sex”, they need to not force people to be their sexual punching bags. I’m generally uncomfortable with the idea of capital punishment, but I might make an exception for proven cases of rape.

        3. avatar Rich Grise says:

          Nah. If killing is wrong, then killing is wrong, regardless the size of your lynch mob.

          To punish bad people, sentence them to life in solitary, with no books, newspapers, TV, or human contact or anything. Just the creature comforts – bed, toilet, sink, shower, soap, 3 squares a day and a weekly change of linen and overalls.

          And a straight razor.

  18. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

    The LRAD is probably the most effective, non-lethal means of stopping pirates.
    Match up some tracking software to an LRAD, and it could be operated from the
    bridge of the ship, keeping the crew safe from pirate small arms fire. But then….
    If someone were to put small munitions on small self-launched, one-way drones,
    they could be flown directly at the pirates…BOOM! Make them inexpensive snap
    together drones capable of 10 minutes of flight. With a simple camera installed,
    they become mini GBU’s. If killing pirates is out, just blow holes in their boats.

    I think we’ve got the right guy to square off with this non-violence guru.
    Not to be obvious, but we’re not the ones who need a lecture about non-violence.

    1. avatar gyrfalcon says:

      How does an LRAD stand up to bullets or an RPG?

      1. avatar Out_Fang_Thief says:

        Most can’t approach within 100 yards of an LRAD. It’s that painful to the ears. Permanent hearing loss can occur. It’s difficult to do anything well when you’re trying to cover your ears in pain. A deaf pirate is a useless pirate if they can’t hear orders and commands. And even if you’re a marksman, at 100+ yards, that’s a tough rifle or RPG shot to make from a speeding boat. No, I don’t think there are any bullet proof or RPG proof LRAD’s available. If a non-lethal deterrence is your only option, this is probably the best choice. It’s not perfect, but compared to a water cannon, it can reach out and touch bad guys at greater distances.

        I think we should mount two Navy Sea Wiz’s, fore and aft, and rip to shreds any pirates who approach, and we leave their dead, shredded remains to the fish. A few short br-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rrap’s from a Sea Wiz, the pirates are sushi. The ridiculous notion that pirates have some sacred civil rights, and can file law suits for injury and death is patently absurd. They should all be shot on sight and left for the fish and crabs.
        Problem solved, problem staying solved.

  19. avatar Rich Grise says:

    Smoke and mirrors! Smoke and mirrors! Dammit, the Unites States of America has this document called a CONSTITUTION, which is the Supreme Law of the Land! And it includes the first ten amendments, also known as the Bill of Rights. And one of those amendments, #2 to be specific, states, in plain English, The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed. This was specifically included so that an armed citizenry can rise up against a tyrannical central government.

    The power of self-defense is really merely a happy side effect of that Creator-given, natural, human, civil, Constitutionally-protected Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

    I wish we would quit getting all caught up in the grabbers’ rhetoric, losing track of the Supreme Law of the Land, and remind them that the USA is the Land of the Free, and the Bill of Rights was written with intent to keep it that way!

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      +10, Rich. The best you’ll get on a day that just flew by.

  20. avatar Jay W. says:

    Since Romano has an image of MLK Jr. on his Wesbsite, try to include that MLK was not against armed self defense. Here’s a refererence:


    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      You know I’m going there.

  21. avatar gyrfalcon says:

    I wonder how it ends.

  22. avatar Paul McCain says:

    Just a note:

    If you have noticed, you have not heard much, if anything, about Somali pirates for, oh, nearly two years. Why? Because they are basically out of business.

    The “solution” was to send out with the ships travelling in pirate infested waters men with weapons to repel them.

    It worked.

    End of story.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      Got this emailed in yesterday: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2420071/Husband-wife-designers-set-make-1million-plastic-rail-STOPS-pirates-tracks.html

      I have to say, the “Royal Marines” who tested the barrier in that video kinda looked like Keystone Kops. If the article hadn’t told me they were Royal Marines, I’d have assumed it was being tested by the local Boy Scout Troop or the inventor’s brother-in-law. I was embarrassed for them.

  23. avatar Glenn in USA says:

    Why should the US Navy and the Navy Seals go through the cost, expense, and risk for some shipping company that does not give the crew a chance to stand up for themselves? Why does the US have to be the police of the open seas?

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