Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Astoundingly Appalling Revisionism

And as if the Somali piracy situation isn't bad enough, you've got this kind of unsupported static decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio.

Go read it, it won't take you long.

The author, Johann Hari, is an interesting fellow. Supposedly an award winning writer and the youngest ever winner of the George Orwell Prize.

I think he nuked the fridge on this one - I notice he doesn't provide references for any of his main assertions. And his interpretation of the history of pirates and piracy seems to be based solely on a single work, at least that's the only reference he provided. That work is certainly scholarly, but the author, Marcus Rediker, is a self proclaimed social activist. Understand, I'm not condeming Rediker's work or intepretation of history, and his book is certainly backed up by extensive research and has garderned excellent reviews - but it is unlikely to be unbiased, it's an interpretation of history. And Hari's use of Rediker's interpretation of historical pirate figures as a yard stick of current piracy in the Indian Ocean is a blatant fallacy of false comparison.

One can see why Hari is an award winning writer though, he's quite skilled. He's managed to create an article couched in such a manner that if you disagree with him or his view of the situation and history, you're ipso facto a racist.

Remember that old verbal trap? Answer only yes or no, do you still beat your wife? No matter how you answer, you're a wife beater.

Same thing.


  1. Ah, the Robin Hood Gambit. It's a nice opening move, but, alas, Robin Hood was also a dick in real life (most of his plunder went to fund his activities).

    And nobody in Somalia has a camera to document these barrels of waste washing up on their shores?

    Of course the Somalis support the pirates, it's their growth industry.

  2. Jim, all histories are biased and are inevitably interpretations by an author.

    That having been said, some interpretations are better than others.

    Mr. Hari's February article seems to be a mix of fact, urban myth and reasoning by poor analogy, with a dash of taking self-rationalizations (then and now) at face value. While there's certainly a cultural tradition of taking criminals as outlaw heroes (it's not merely Somali or Port Royal pirates--Americans have been celebrating various kinds of gangsters since the 1920s), at least some of the local popularity of pirates in their hometowns almost certainly has to do with (1) the fact that pirates throw around a lot of money (2) misguided nationalism, since pirates almost always prey on foreign shipping--and when they begin to prey on local concerns, local goodwill tends (surprise, surprise) to abruptly vanish.

    Almost any criminal can rationalize his behavior and point to some "justice" in what he did. The exceptions, in my own experience, are sociopaths and drunks who have sobered up and no longer have any idea if they were even thinking at the time of their offense.

    I wouldn't call Mr. Hari's piece "revisionism," I'd merely call it "wrong."

  3. Oh yeah, and I guess this guy (and the author he cites) never heard of a Letter of Marque.

  4. He's referring to a Letter Of Marque when he writes about the American Founders hiring pirates to engage the Brits. What he's (perhaps conveniently) omitting is that the British Navy didn't respond to American piracy with, "What ho, a Letter Of Marque And Reprisal? Well that's all right then laddie, on your way." The Brits treated privateers as pirates.

    O'course, the whole thing is another example of reasoning by faulty analogy: the Somali pirates don't have Letters Of Marque, so there's not much point in comparing them to Congressionally-employed privateers in the first place. But supposing they did bear LOM&R: how would our response be any different or less justified? So not only is it an inapt comparision, it's also merely stupid.

    Naturally, Mr. Hari's point is probably supposed to be that the distinction between privateer and pirate is one of perspective; unfortunately, the better conclusion from his example isn't that the Somali pirates are heroes, but that our "heroic" privateers (some of whom frankly engaged in actual piracy outside the scope of their LOM&Rs and became a headache for the nascent American nation and our Spanish and French allies) were liable to have their boats blown out from underneath them and/or be hanged by the Brits in accordance with their laws and customs, and that these privateers knew exactly what they were getting themselves into when they engaged British shipping and had nobody to blame but themselves if the British fleet, with perfect justification, made it a point of dealing harshly with them.

    Not that we need to be hanging pirates, mind you. Our customs have, happily, evolved a little since the 18th Century. But regardless of what motivates the Somalis, being treated as an international criminal is a risk of engaging in international crime for a living, and if your crimes extend to acts that might be treated as acts of war, it only follows that you may find yourself dealing with a nation's armed forces instead of their policemen. I suspect that our privateers knew this perfectly well--Letters Of Marque weren't protection against the nations they engaged, they were protection against the people who hired them, lest their employers betray them when it became politically expedient to sell them out in exchange for peace at a later date.

  5. Well, damn, Eric, you just wrote the post I intended from this. I would have done it last night when I posted this, but I was tired.

    Thanks, Buddy, now I suppose I'll just have to make fun of spam or something today. Bastard

  6. Heh.

    By the way (and this is actually why I was dropping by)--everyone may be interested in this:

    Since the early 1990s, reports have been circulating in Somalia and the international media regarding the dumping of hazardous waste along the coastline of Somalia, including regular sightings of suspected containers. Assessment missions were undertaken by international organizations in 1992 as well as in 1997 but no hazardous waste was found.

    Following an increase of reported sightings after the December 2004 tsunami, UNEP, through its Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, and in co-operation with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and World Health Organization (WHO), has been investigating these reports with no results to support the presence of hazardous waste.

    A UN technical fact-finding mission visited the “Puntland” region of Somalia from 25-29 May 2005, to investigate allegations of toxic waste hazards uncovered by the tsunami. The mission visited three key populated coastal locations at Hafun, Bandarbeyla and Eyl, a region stretching over 500m in length. No traces of toxic waste were found, but the UN added that “the urgent need remained for a more comprehensive assessment of the natural environment of Somalia, which would include further investigations of alleged toxic waste sites on land, and dumping of toxic waste at sea”.
    -"Environment In Somalia UNEP Desk Study" Dec. 2005 (PDF link), p. 33

    Several points:

    (1) The UN and other international organizations have looked for evidence of illegal dumping of toxic waste off the Somalia coast and have come up empty-handed (but see #2).

    (2) There is small-scale dumping of oil-tainted ballast by oil tankers passing through the Gulf Of Aden and the (illegal) dumping of other wastes by tankers and freighters. This isn't the whole-scale dumping of radioactives and chemical waste that Hari and Somali officials allege, but certainly isn't good for the environment, could cause health problems, and should be stopped. (However, hundreds of ships dumping bilge as they pass through shouldn't be confused or equated with dumping barrels of mercury, radioactive hospital waste, etc.)

    3) There may well be health problems caused by dumping on the Somali coast--but much of it or all of it may be the result of dubious environmental practices within Somalia. E.g. the UNEP report notes that (at least at the time of writing) fish processing by the local fishermen was occurring on-site, on the beach, with waste simply being dumped right there to rot (p. 26). The report also discusses other environmental issues on land that may be reaching the coast, e.g. waste runoff from Somalia's limited local industry and the existence of a major--and abandoned--pesticide depot that has been hit by at least one air raid and raided by locals (p. 27).

    A fourth point of interest that's unrelated to dumping but does address one other issue raised by Mr. Hari in justifying the Somali pirates:

    4) Although the fisheries are being depleted by international trespassers, much of the problem is also being caused by Somali fishermen themselves, who fish and export massive amounts of seafood themselves (especially shark and lobster, it appears). While there is undeniably theft by other countries occurring in Somalia's unregulated and unpatrolled waters, the Somalis themselves are presently a part of the problem and it seems like there might be shortages even if the international trespassers were cut out of the picture (c.f. p. 47). This doesn't justify the trespass and theft; it does, however, suggest that the initial hitting of fishing vessels for a "toll" may have been the result of a sort of marine "range war," with all the fishing vessels in the area seeing diminishing returns and the local fishermen resorting to extortion to make up the difference (understandable, mind you, but not particularly "heroic")

    This is all from a 2005 report that is the most pertinent and objective document I've found with a few minutes of research. If there's a more recent and equally reliable report documenting the continued allegations of offshore dumping (of the sort Hari alleges, that is), I'd be happy to stand corrected and educated. In the meanwhile, I have to say that not only are the claims that radioactive and heavy metal waste being dumped on the Somali coast improbable, but they're actually investigated and unsubstantiated.

    Anyway, I figured that would interest some/all of y'all. The UNEP report is actually pretty interesting and worth checking out.

  7. I want to marry Eric when I grow up.

    Okay, not really. My SmartMan is here to stay, but I do have a purely platonic crush on him.

  8. Well Jim, Redicker's work may be well-researched, but we have all seen what happens when someone writes up a well-footnoted work without actually bothering to understand what was written in the actual works cited.

    Is Redicker a member of Mensa, by any chance?


  9. Damnit, Eric, now you're just being mean.

    I found that report last night, and was going through it this morning, along with a couple of others, with the intention of taking the article apart. Bastard. That's it, no chocolate for you. :)

    But, yeah, exactly. Hari, who's supposedly an expert and an award winning writer, somehow forget to mention any of this in his article. So much for balanced reporting - but then the article title pretty much states what Hari was going for with this. As I said, in my opinion it would appear that he has an agenda. It's obvious that the article is strongly biased, plays fast and loose with the facts - or at least omits anything that would cast doubt on his central premise - and is written in such a manner that you're labeled a racist if you disagree with him - in fact, appears to be couched in such terms as to invite actual racists to frothy trollage.

    Additionally I note from his bio, that Hari delights in such things, and actually calls out with glee the notable folks who hate him and his writing.

    Also, in support of this opinion, I'd point out the media in which this article appeared, do a google search and you'll see what I mean.


    John, I've got no beef with Rediker. History, as Eric noted above is always subject to interpretation. Rediker's book, Villains of All Nations, is supposedly an excellent work, that gives both the good and the bad. Hari chose to quote only the good points in his article and left out Rediker's other observations. I think that's called Cherry Picking, isn't it? ;)

    All of which is irrelevant, as historical piracy of the Atlantic is comparable only in the broadest of strokes to what's happening off Somalia. As I noted, Hari makes the fallacy of false comparison - he would have been better served to compare Somali pirates to those of Indonesia - but that wouldn't have served his purpose as the Indonesian pirates are every bit as bad or worse than the Somalis and are obvious criminals.

  10. Sorry, Jim. I found Hari's allegations about the dumping troubling enough to do some checking into--his claims are improbable, but not impossible, and even as improbable claims, they wouldn't be the weirdest/worst things people had ever done, if you see what I'm saying. And in fairness, while dumped oil bilge and human waste aren't as dramatic as radioactive watse, such pollution can still have toxic repercussions over time. Of course, so can similar waste being dumped into the water from the shore, which also seems to be happening.

    As for Hari's biases, part of the problem, I suspect, is that Hari is too close to his sources. He quotes Somalia's UN envoy directly, and Mr. Ould-Abdallah (the envoy) appears to be one of the main sources of the accusations of foreign dumping (I believe he's addressed the U.N. about it). Mr. Ould-Abdallah obviously is unlikely to blame the victims of pollution in Somalia, in spite of a good bit of evidence that the victims in fact do share the blame, unfortunately. And it doesn't seem that Mr. Hari is willing to call out Mr. Ould-Abdallah. There are a number of reasons this might be the case: he might be impressed with Mr. Ould-Abdallah's sincerity, he might be inclined to think western nations must be the villain's, he might not want to antagonize a "good" source, he might consider the straight unchecked reporting of Mr. Ould-Abdallah's assertions to be a form of extreme objectivity (much the same way the mainstream press tends to report vaccine woo or gives equal time to obvious political wingnuts on issues like Obama's birth certificate), etc.

    Or Jim may be right: Mr. Hari may subscribe to the Chris Hitchens school of poke-poke-poke, and be more interested in shit-stirring than accuracy. Could be it's a combination of the above (and/or others).

  11. Eric, I guess I wasn't clear. The author of the article posits that pirates were these freedom lovin' egalitarian rascals fighting against the man while completely ignoring the history of nations employing other nations' ships (and sometime their own in proxy wars) in piracy through Letters of Marque and Reprisals. The author and the book he quotes also misses another whole history of ships' captains "going pirate" while under the employ and sailing a nation's ship. He also misses that while shanghaiing was a method of the British Navy, pirate fleets have also been known to impress unwilling sailors into their ranks. Instead he'd like to focus on the romanticized Caribbean Pirates feeding off the Spanish and ignore much of the rest of the history of piracy (a long and glorious tradition, as they say).

    And I agree that the comparison to the Barbary Pirates is an apt one (except on scale).

  12. "Rapscallions," that was the word I was looking for. "He makes pirates these freedom lovin' egalitarian rapscallions fighting against the man."

    To much novel in brain.

  13. To much novel in brain.Christ, if that ain't the truth, Steve. My hands hurt from typing so much. But, by Grapthor's Hammer, I'm going to have this thing finished by the time the kid gets out of school for the summer.

    And now, I shall have Rapscallions in my brain all day as well. Thank you very much, Steve, you bastard.

  14. ::tips hat toward Alaska:: You're welcome. :)

  15. not surprisingly, the blithe and nonchalant cashiering of but one writer's work has seemingly, for a select few of you, quelled once and for all any question whether there are, or are not, valid questions to be asked as to whether everything can be tied up so neatly, or whether all those recently exculpated here can truly deserve that claimed total exculpation.

    Whether it's a need to strive for clear conscience, or a need to find justification at any turn, it's a bit too pat and neat, it defies a reality that all too often reveals ragged edges at the least, and total whitewashing at the worst.

    One thing is without doubt, the so-called Somali pirates didn't evolve in a vacuum.

    There is backstory signal that is relevant amongst all the noise, and none of the additional noise here has erased that signal backstory.

    I'm not certain that anyone here wishes to confront that backstory. I see folks wishing to forge merely an expedient handwashing.

  16. Anonymous,

    Let's save the self-righteous condescending for somebody else, shall we?

    not surprisingly, the blithe and nonchalant cashiering of but one writer's work has seemingly, for a select few of you, quelled once and for all any question whether there are, or are not, valid questions to be asked as to whether everything can be tied up so neatly, or whether all those recently exculpated here can truly deserve that claimed total exculpation.Wrong. Obviously wrong. Go read the comments again. None of us believe that there is anything neat and tidy about the Somali situation. However, Mr. Hari has posited a global conspiracy of racism, toxic waste dumping, looting, and so on without offering a shred of proof. Additionally, Mr. Hari claimed in his article that the Somali pirates are in fact not pirates at all but brave and valiant men fighting against global oppression for the benefit of the Somali people like some modern day Robinhood. He compares them to his own mythical fantasy of seventeenth century Atlantic and Caribbean piracy. Both the comparison and the myth are unsupported by the facts at hand - including the very reference he cited in his article. Information refuting Mr. Hari's claim is widely available in UN reports by on-scene observers, which Eric linked to above - and which I suspect an award winning writer such as Mr. Hari is fully aware of and yet failed to mention in his article. And if he's not aware of it, he should be and even if he doesn't accept it as valid he should have mentioned it in his article as any responsible journalist would have.

    One thing is without doubt, the so-called Somali pirates didn't evolve in a vacuum. There is backstory signal that is relevant amongst all the noise, and none of the additional noise here has erased that signal backstory. I'm not certain that anyone here wishes to confront that backstory. I see folks wishing to forge merely an expedient handwashing. Oh bullshit.

    If you read the other articles I posted in the last week regarding the Somali situation, and the comments there, you'd see immediately that your knee-jerk statement is complete nonsense. But you didn't actually read those articles, did you? Instead you made a blithe and nonchalant judgement of me and the readers here from one short post without actually checking any backstory yourself, didn't you?

    Nobody here believes the Somali pirate situation evolved in a vacuum. None of us are "afraid" to confront the back story of Somalia in any way - but that complex, violent, and tragic history is not improved by embellishment and the distraction of incorrect and false comparisons or the addition of unsubstantiated accusations such as the large scale dumping of radioactive waste by a global conspiracy of nations. You used the term "signal," increasing the static and decreasing the signal to noise ratio doesn't help, Sparky.

    The human disaster in Somali needs to be resolved, but we've already attempted that based on false perceptions of ground truth - which predictably led unerringly to abject failure. We don't need more of the same.

  17. Anonymous

    "Arrest him!" shout the copers.

    "Fair cop. But society is to blame for it," says the man responsible for the Vicar's murder.

    "Right then," says the police chief. "We'll arrest society then."

    This Monty Python quote brought to you by the people who support the UN (which, BTW, has also decreed these pirates outlaw).

    And once again I ask, doesn't anybody in Somalia have a camera to document these barrels of waste washing up?

  18. Anon, wait, no, I really am pissed. If you want to argue the underdevelopment of Africa by European colonial powers, you'll get a sympathetic ear. However, to then turn around and say, "This is why these pirates are attacking ships" I'm going to tell you you're off your rocker. You're blaming the victim.

    "Sure those cargo ships had it coming to them. Look at those pretty ransom skirts the companies paid. And then flaunting such rich cargo in international waters without nary a care. Why, it's indecent."

    Doesn't work for rape, doesn't work here. Civil Disobedience is one thing. Grabbing a microphone and shouting to the world the injustice of it all is another. Acting against forces that come to shut down your attempts to tell the world something is very wrong can be justified. Committing international crimes on third parties (both on commercial shipping and private property) of the level that has warranted capital punish in the past is a whole 'nother sphere of action.

    The pirates are criminals. Somalia has a representative in the UN. As Eric has pointed out, the UN has investigated these claims and have found them baseless. The dumping of bilge water doesn't match up to clearing the seas of fish and dumping nuclear waste.

  19. I'd like to clarify one or two things:

    1) The UN and other investigations didn't find Somali accusations baseless, but they did find them unsubstantiated. The UN report advocates further investigation, which is reasonable. However, in the absence of any evidence of toxic dumping, such accusations must necessarily be considered unproven and the allegations should not be repeated as fact (as Mr. Hari does).

    Let me also point out something else I wrote on this point, something "Anonymous" seems to have glanced over and missed:

    If there's a more recent and equally reliable report documenting the continued allegations of offshore dumping (of the sort Hari alleges, that is), I'd be happy to stand corrected and educated.I also wrote in a subsequent comment:

    I found Hari's allegations about the dumping troubling enough to do some checking into--his claims are improbable, but not impossible, and even as improbable claims, they wouldn't be the weirdest/worst things people had ever done, if you see what I'm saying."Anonymous," I don't know if you were referring to me when you wrote about a select few of us having our questions quelled. If you were, you must have missed some pretty obvious statements to the contrary. While I am indeed satisfied for now that the allegations of Mr. Ould-Abdallah and Mr. Hari are without merit, I am certainly willing to consider evidence, if there's any available that's stronger than the anecdotes Mr. Ould-Abdallah and Mr. Hari seem to be relying on.

    2) The UN clearly found that unregulated foreign fishing was occurring. However (again!), the UN also found that the development of an unsustainable Somali fishing industry is also a crucial factor in reducing available catches.

    There's no denying that Somalia should be assisted in patrolling its own waters and that trespassers in Somalia waters should be driven out; unfortunately, however, that is only part of the solution--the other part being that Somalis will need to switch to sustainable fisheries and that Somali fishermen will need to change their practices or things will be no better for them (and with no foreigners to blame).

    On a related note to this and point #1, it seems extremely clear from the UN investigation that any health problems Somalis are experiencing are more likely to be caused by Somali practices (e.g. processing fish in situ on the beach and simply dumping the guts there to rot) than by the dumping of heavy metals or radioactive wastes by European criminals looking to dispose of toxic waste (the allegation of the Somali UN envoy, repeated by Mr. Hari).

    3) The dumping of oil-contaminated bilge and human wastes off the Somali coast shouldn't be minimized, and I apologize if my prior comments were misinterpreted that way (I tried to be careful in my wording): oil is carcinogenic, teratogenic and otherwise poisonous and assorted human wastes and offal can obviously carry disease; furthermore, while any single ship is essentially dropping a teacup in an ocean, the cumulative effect of hundreds or thousands of ships. Clearly practices or habits must change. However (that damn word again!), there is a difference between ships dumping thoughtlessly dumping bilge and a malicious criminal enterprise.

    This distinction must be emphasized not to absolve guilt, but to properly place it: Mr. Hari's allegations are probably false, but efforts spent (and likely wasted) searching out Mafia freighters slyly dumping hospital Cesium in leaky barrels (or even just blaming them) get in the way of efforts to identify the nations engaging in more mundane (but poisonous) practices and encouraging/enforcing less dangerous practices. Furthermore, as always, it is better not to assign malice where incompetence is a sufficient explanation (Hanlon's Law, or "cock-up before conspiracy"); essentially slandering half the world for wicked things they're not doing obstructs efforts to correct the stupid things they are doing.

    4) The rest of the world has made a far-ranging series of recent mistakes in Somalia, and the longer history of conquest and colonialism before that is appalling. But that doesn't justify Somali gangsters choosing to engage in criminal activity to the detriment of their own countrymen and the injury of foreign innocents (of which, believe it or not, there are at least a few, "Anonymous"). To say that Somali gangsters are gangsters is to absolve nobody, while suggesting they're some kind of latter-day maritime Robin Hoods is to absolve them of the crimes they're routinely committing.

    5) And, to restate something that's been said before by Jim, Steve, myself and other posters, something that should be self-evident: even if the Somalis weren't gangsters who are engaged in a highly organized criminal conspiracy to engage in acts of maritime armed robbery off the Somali coast, but were in fact some kind of ragtag fleet of noble and justified avengers, there is only one response they could possibly expect from the rest of the world, which is to be treated as criminals or worse. One who steals, however much he may feel justified to do so, can expect to have the property owner or his agents take action to recover the property or in reprisal, no?

    6) As has been said repeatedly as well, and obviously needs to be repeated: even if Mr. Hari's conclusions were correct (they aren't), his arguments are spurious, his analogies false, and his history receives a D- at best (nearly twenty years ago, I had professors who would have simply flunked him). Mr. Hari is certainly entitled to have an opinion and to express it, but there's no good excuse for poorly reasoned and factually inaccurate arguments.

    7) "Anonymous," you write:

    Whether it's a need to strive for clear conscience, or a need to find justification at any turn, it's a bit too pat and neat, it defies a reality that all too often reveals ragged edges at the least, and total whitewashing at the worst....

    I'm not certain that anyone here wishes to confront that backstory. I see folks wishing to forge merely an expedient handwashing.
    I have to ask you to read all of the relevant posts here and the comments that have been made in response: the fact is that everybody here is agonizing in some degree over this and nobody is advocating a handwashing. Some here (myself, at least) would even wish for some kind of international effort to try to rebuild Somalia even in the face of precedents of repeated failure and the fact that it would be grotesquely expensive in human and financial. And indeed, if I concede that such an effort is presently impractical and improbable, it isn't without some grief; as for those here who disagree with me (e.g. our host, Jim), I think it's pretty clear that his disagreement isn't without it's own agony and sorrow--I don't think Jim and others disagree with me because they're blind to the suffering within Somalia or the depths of the problem or our responsibilities in creating it in the first place, but rather because that is how they're coming out on an impossible choice between evils (and they aren't wrong--my expression for an international solution is more idealistic and yearning than pragmatic; pragmatically, Jim, Nathan et al. are absolutely right that we can't do it and shouldn't try).

    8) "Anonymous," you also write:

    One thing is without doubt, the so-called Somali pirates didn't evolve in a vacuum.Don't. They aren't "so-called" pirates; they engage in armed theft on the high seas, which by any sane or common definition is "piracy," and people who engage in piracy are pirates. A statement like yours undermines your own credibility before you even reach the period. Argue, if you'd like, that the Somali pirates are justified or provoked or that the victims deserve it anyway, but don't diminish yourself by trying to pretend they're not doing something they obviously are. And for that matter, would you even use that phrase if you were fully grounded in the complexities of the issue yourself? Note as a starting point, for instance, the Foreign Policy article linked to previously in this comment: the Somali pirates aren't charming ragamuffin rogues, they're engaged in an organized criminal conspiracy. Note the attack on the Liberty Sun this week; the Somali pirates aren't idle fishermen desperately turning to crime, while they might have been such at one time, the Somali pirates now are assembling matériel for their enterprise, including rocket-propelled grenades, fast boats and "motherships." And these Somali pirates are a political force--not in the sense of political revolutionaries, but in the sense that they cut territorial deals and form alliances with warlords and terrorist organizations in the area (they are not, it must be emphasized, themselves terrorists; they are however, forming agreements much the same way the Gambinos might make arrangements to conduct certain business in nominally Genovese territory, say).


    Sorry for the lengthy response. I wanted to try to clarify some things I wrote that might have been misread, for starters, and secondly to address some problems with "Anonymous"' comment.

  20. To "steal fish from Florida and dump nuclear waste on California" -- is nothing like Somalia. It would require two coasts with no connection between them.

    Just sayin'.

    Dr. Phil

  21. first, all those, (jim included), who choose to presume I haven't read the related posts and material are indulging in a rhetorical dodge and nothing more.

    Lose your ill-founded suppositions, they aren't relevant to anything but being a weak attempt to discredit that which isn't germaine in the first place.

    The lame attempts to assign characteristics or beliefs to myself that were not even implied is also just more of the same rhetorical hocus pocus, attempting to wrap up what I did say with what you'd like to imagine I said, something, (you may note), other than what I did say.

    I didn't romanticize any of the players in the game, I didn't offer justification for criminal acts.

    What I did say is that complicity hasn't been plumbed nearly to the extent that effort was expended to dismiss one writer's story.

    Forget that one writer's story and there's still signal that's not being addressed.

    Piracy, in all it's forms, can be representative of one basic fact and that is that piracy arises historically in the vacuum left by the failure of nation-states, that 'failure' leaves trade and territory unprotected or inadequately patrolled.

    Piracy is only a symptom here, what is not addressed is that failed nation-state and the factors which bear on that reality.

    Though, not without several of it's own problematic factual errors, tying up a neat package in support of this singular military response isn't the challenge,

    Injustice comes with all sorts of it's own pious hypocrites and it's righteous defenders, injustice in Africa and Somalia in particular, hasn't been laid bare here, nor has it been justified here.

    The injustice that is represented by present day Somalia hasn't even been broached. Scratching around the edges won't do anything but continue to conceal that injustice and it's origins.

    The piracy in Somalia grew out of the collapse in 1991 of Somalia's government, the UIC finally began to take some control back, but then the US/Ethiopian invasion toppled the UIC but Western powers have failed in every attempt since to install an effective government.

    The piracy is but a symptom, the illness is something else that no one here has expressed as much desire to confront as they do falling back on their desire to only address piracy in a vacuum, as if that 'piracy' wasn't but a symptom of the greater injustice perpetrated on nation states by the gangsterism inherent in all attempts at imperialism.

    I'm waiting to see which of you will tie that world-wide imperialistic gangsterism and thuggery into a pat, and neat and justifiable package?


  22. Anon, I'm not assuming anything. You forget, I run this blog. I can see what you read and what you don't.

    As to rhetorical dodges, seriously, Sparky, the only rhetorical dodge going on here is Hari's biased writing and your attempt to peg me as something I'm not.

    Stop it. It's getting on my nerves.

    Once again, allow me to draw your attention to the two previous articles, Tripoli and SomaliaIt should be glaringly obvious to you, Anon, that I don't think the underlying cause of Somalia piracy can be addressed in a vacuum, and that I think that the underlying cause should be addressed as the moral and ethic duty of nations. However, I also don't think that either my country or yours has the wherewithal to do what needs to be done. And if you'd actually read the things I write you'd also understand that I fully appreciate the injustice you allude to in the Horn of Africa.

    Here's the difference, I've been there, I've also been to many other war torn strife ridden places in this world - and exactly as I said in the previous post, You can piss and moan and cry and plead and pray and wish in one hand and shit in the other, but that is how it is, and it's not going to change the injustice you so self-righteously accuse me of missing.

    Now, here's the part of your crap I find most ingenious: You decry imperialism while at the same time call out for us do something to treat the underlying cause of piracy. You understand, that action would require military operations and occupation and nation building - i.e. the very things we tried to do once before in Somalia and Ethiopia, and which you label Imperialistic thuggery.

    You've made up your mind that America is a bunch of thugs and gangsters and no effort on my part is going to convince you otherwise.

  23. You say you're not assuming anything,

    yet assumptions are the only thing you are capable of pointing to.

    You presume I advocate, (how did you put it),that I advocated for 'required military operations and occupation and nation building'?

    You've not read anything I wrote that advocated anything close to such as you presume, but you found that to be no deterrent to your advancing that unfounded supposition.

    And you attempt to characterize me with your 'Sparky' moniker?

    All you have in your 'reply' is your pretentious presumptions.

    LIke the assumption you know where I've been or where I've not been, or under what auspices I may have been anywhere.

    More of your unfounded, ill-conceived, puerile assumptions.

    You haven't justified our attempts at intervention by glossing over them with your accounts of 'being there', you haven't addressed the motivation nor the justification for those policies at all,

    you only reveal you don't like them being recognized as the imperialistic endeavors they are.

    The shit in the hand concept is indicative of what many of your assumptions add up to.

    Like your assumption of what you presume I think represents America.

    Contrary to your ill-conceived presumptions, America is not represented wholly by whichever political leadership happens to be advancing failed policies and actions at any given moment.

    The thuggery and gangsterism extent in our political system at any given point in time is not what comprises America, it's a cancerous growth that should be excised each time it arises.

    I've got too much respect for our nation to attempt to define it by the failures of some few of it's inhabitants.

    You might think about that conceptually, you know, just to see if it wouldn't provide you with a little more rational perspective should you be tempted to attempt to assign to someone else that same, or a similar false assumption in the future.

    If you have trouble with your nerves, I might suggest you don't write out your thoughts on the internet, and then get pissy because you can't conceive of anyone taking exception to your comments.

    Especially when you willingly invited others to provide you with their comments.

    My guess is it's only the comments that might contribute to the swelling of your head that you were hoping for, anything else, and however unfortunate that might be, you don't appear to be prepared for.


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.