1. I don’t understand why they killed the missionaries. Why bother? At least, this is what the NYT is saying: it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t bode well for the future.
2. I had either completely forgotten or never knew that this country fought a war against the Barbary pirates two centuries ago. I think it’s the latter, since the Barbary Wars led to the “shores of Tripoli” line in the Marine Corps hymn and I would’ve remembered that.
3. Piracy seems to be the only profitable business in Somalia. It is so profitable, the pirate bosses have built land armies of their own, which compete with the Islamist armies and whatever force the US-backed failed government has. Unlike the Islamist armies, though, the pirates are decidedly secular: “We only care about the money” is their mantra, again according to the NYT.
4. If they aren’t demanding tribute already, then it is only a matter of time. If this business continues to grow, the pirates will likely fight among themselves for territory and dominance (again, if they haven’t already) and once that’s settled, may find it more profitable to collect a steady stream of tribute rather than bank on daring robberies. They can focus their efforts, too, on the land armies, which will secure territory and resources to provide for the pirate base and points surrounding.
5. It will be important for these groups to eventually abandon piracy to avoid risking military attack on their well-developed homes. This can only be accomplished by finding another revenue stream. Why not turn the tribute into a tariff? Or, they could offer to the US and other western countries threatened by ideologically-motivated anti-state terrorism to engage and destroy (or absorb, though that seems unlikely) the Islamist armies. A different kind of protection fee.
6. The US Navy could destroy the pirate bases at any moment. The pirates could not defend themselves against a barrage of missiles, and that’s a fact. That’s why it would be murder and not war. For war you need another army or navy, some force to engage. Luckily, in waiting a few years, there will be a Somali pirate army worth engaging, just like in the Barbary wars. Then we can invade and take control of the coast. Just like we’ve done in Afghanistan.
7. Yeah, that was mean.
8. Seriously, though, the Somali pirate approach seems to me the beginning not only of an actual government, but a western-style government at that. It’s based solely on securing resources for the people in the area, with the majority of those resources going to arms, which are used to secure more resources. Not only that, but they’ve struck an alliance with religious fundamentalists to secure more influence. Now they demonstrate that they’re friends with the olde-tyme religion but don’t want to live like ascetics. Moderate religion, high profit. There is no profit in accepting a dark-ages style sharia law.
9. I’m convinced this is how governments form. Eventually one of the pirate clan leaders will outshine the others and unify the area against the double threat of western imperialism and taliban-style religious repression, and suddenly Somalia is run by a strong man, with different clans conspiring for national power. Instead of living on the coast in a compound, he gets a palace together in the capital with an armed compound down on the coast. The West eventually recognizes him, as he keeps the terrorist-trainers on the run and pledges to control piracy on the coast. “We don’t need it anymore,” he might say. “This is a new day for Somalia.” The resources of the West-supported government are absorbed by the former pirate king, now head of state.
10. 30 years later a generation tired of the “repressive regime” of the anti-fundamentalist strong man leader take to the streets, calling him a pirate, and calling for his resignation. They’d like to elect a new leader, or shift the majority of the lawmaking control over to a stronger parliament of representatives. Mostly, they’re tired of seeing one guy horde all the money while other people starve. That, and the leader has a tendency to disappear people who threaten the safety of the regime. None of the people in the West who made the deal with the pirate king are still in power. Journalists point to his past as a pirate, and remind people of the horrible acts committed by pirates during the time he ascended to power – like the cold-blooded murder of a Western missionary couple.