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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Comment on the Pro- Pirate Article

1) the article is right to point out that it's not as simple as just "bad pirates" vs "good Western shipping companies and associated militaries".

2) The accusation about the dumping of nuclear waste needs to be backed up to be taken seriously

3) I don't think our military has brought a happy ending to anywhere since 1945. Why would it be any different here? East Africa has more than enough guns and missiles already. It's going to take more than that to create alternatives to piracy for its people.

The article is here:

My comment is here:

The article is good, but the illegal waste dumping thing is a pretty serious allegation. The author needs more than one quote from one guy to make that appear creditable.

The criticism of this article, that "just because your fish was all stolen by European trawlers doesn't justify you attacking large freighters which didn't themselves have anything to do with stealing your fish" seems to make sense to me.

However, people who have chosen to utter it ad nauseum in the "comments" section below the article have apparently forgotten that the world isn't a totally polite one where people in a war torn country with a collapsed economy just patiently bide their time, slowly starving, while their ignored pleas for economic justice get politely submitted to the UN. That isn't how it works.

If you take away a people's ability to honestly and legally provide for themselves, they will most likely pursue *some other* way to provide for themselves. That's what happened in inner cities in America when manufacturing jobs were outsourced and "white flight" destroyed the tax bases school budgets come from. You saw a rise in crime and drug pushing. People looked into a bad situation and chose whatever option appeared the most realistic.

The same thing happened in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. The US totally screwed Mexico's economy with NAFTA, which resulted in a lot of people (mostly farmers) loosing their jobs. In El Salvador, Guatemala, Columbia, and elsewhere, we've backed brutal governments who repressed popular uprisings and created major refugee situations. Now when some of those people come to the US looking for a job, they are "criminals".

But the weapons contractors who got rich selling guns to dictators, and the American agricultural giants whose imports threw Mexican farmers out of work- and then into the streets to riot for food when it became more profitable to turn corn into ethanol- have never served a day in jail, or even been a featured target of Lou Dobbs or any of the other demagogues.

The crisis in Somalia, in the 'Democratic' Republic of the Congo, in Afghanistan, and in many other places, are mostly due to the interference of Cold War rivalries. We give weapons and training to very dubious parties (ex Mobutu in Zaire, or Islamic Fundamentalists in Afghanistan in the 80s) when they are killing our enemies, but when they start killing civilians in order to solidify their rule, we ignore it.

The amount of civilians killed by future members of the "Northern Alliance" when they shelled Kabul in the mid 90s is higher than the number of people killed in Sarajevo when the Serbs were shelling it. But apparently this wasn't newsworthy, and it would have been more than a bit embarrassing for the US to have to step in to disarm people it had previously backed.

The same thing happened in Somalia. Ruler Siad Barre was at first friendly to the Soviet Union. Then the USSR changed its mind and decided to back Ethiopia in 1977 when they and Somalia were fighting. So the dictator of Somalia became the US's ally instead and we gave this guy millions of dollars to keep him in power. Eventually people became fed up with him running their country and a terrible civil war developed as different parties attempted to replace him.

American weapons and foreign policy is one of the main REASONS so much of the rest of the world is a war torn, fucked up place. Was it not a former ally- Osama Bin Laden- who came back to haunt us in 2001? When you're the one holding the hammer a lot of things start to look like nails... but brute force alone isn't solving the world's problems- especially when the people in charge of that force tend to be an elitist, parasitic, and arrogant lot whose records have shown precious little concern for the lives of anybody daring to be born brown or poor.

Sending in the Navy, SEALS teams, the Air Force, or whoever else as some kind of a "solution" for the problem of East African instability makes about as much sense as building inner city prisons instead of schools, or giving the Mexican oligarchy guns to fight a brutal drug war instead of the tools to build a sustainable, pro- human economy. This article has some problems but it's got more good points than bad ones. I'd like to thank the SF Bay View for having the guts to actually raise the harder social questions. Our country and our empire is collapsing. The screeches of discredited imperialism now emanating from the media and the White House have nothing positive to offer the people of Somalia or the United States. It's time to end the war- not to start another one.

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