Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum, raise the Jolly Roger and all that. The thought of pirates brings a smile to the lips – but in reality there is nothing jolly about pirates, as this week’s hijacking of the Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia, should remind us.
On Wednesday, Somali gunmen briefly hijacked the colossal freighter, only to be driven off by the crew. Retaining the captain as a hostage, they fled to a lifeboat, where they were yesterday engaged in a David-and-Goliath standoff with the might of the US Navy.
Last year, more than 130 such attacks were reported, centred on the Gulf of Aden. Approximately 50 were successful, with millions of pounds being extracted in ransom money, most notoriously for a Saudi supertanker carrying £70 million in oil, and a Ukrainian ship transporting 33 tanks. The civilised world long believed that piracy was part of history, long ago stamped out by the navies of the industrialised nations. Instead, at the chokepoints of sea lanes, off the shore of weak – or completely failed – states, piracy is flourishing.
So our campaign must be ruthless and pitiless: pirate ships must be sunk on sight and the crews left to swim to safety, if it can be reached.
Many would complain about such tactics but, in my opinion, pirates have no rights – indeed, it will be vital to exclude human rights lawyers from the anti-piracy campaign. To bring any captives to Europe or America for trial would probably be to grant them their dearest wish, which is to secure entry to a new life in the First World.
As the saying goes, read the whole thing…