Mainstream media has inundated readers, listeners, and viewers with coverage of recent Somali piracy incidents off the waters of Africa. America waited anxiously for the outcome of the hostage situation that saw Maersk Alabama ship Capt. Richard Phillips in custody for five days.
The captain regained his freedom because of the successful execution of a rescue plan by Navy SEALs and a host other folks. The three captors on the lifeboat with the captain were killed and one captor was taken into custody. This post is not so much about that particular incident as much as why it occurred in the first place.
As an American and citizen of the world, I was a bit perturbed that such a widespread and lucrative illegal industry has existed for almost two decades. What's up with that? The millions of dollars lost to pirates and the hundreds of sailors held hostage was as newsworthy when the incidents started in the early 90's as it is now.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective of this issue; the four pirates on the Alabama picked the wrong ship to rob. The media onslaught was tremendous. Resolution of this hostage situation would be televised, tweeted and broadcast using all mediums available. After all that hoopla, piracy continues.
One has to wonder, even as lucrative as piracy has become, why the Somalis are involved in piracy in the first place. The obvious answer is the money but there is another side to the situation that needs equal coverage.
Quite simply, commercialized fishing by other countries decimated Somalia's fishing industry and many Somalis are merely trying to survive. There are also reported instances of industrial pollution and shootings of innocent Somali fishermen. The Somali piracy issue is more complex than some may want known to the public.
When all is said and done, a happy medium must be reached because the world cannot tolerate the lawlessness of the pirates; the Somali people need economic viability and a stable government. Let's not kid ourselves; conceptually, the actions of the Somali pirates are the same as the robber barons of Wall Street.