The Piracy Pages: Somalia in Context
April 15, 2009.
“In this world, nothing is as certain as death and taxes. – Benjamin Franklin”
Had Franklin lived long enough, he might have added that in matters of foreign policy, nothing is as certain as the fact that America’s mainstream media will work to push public opinion away from a common sense and ethical understanding of complex issues.
So it is with Somalia and the question of piracy. I’ve written a series of post recently on this question. I begin with the paper of record, the New York Times, and its inability or unwillingness to provide accurate reporting on this issue. I deal with this at the personal level because ultimately, all writing is autobiographical. What the Times has to tell us about Somalia also reveals a great deal about the writers of that paper and whom they believe their audience to be.
Part II, entitled Somalia’s Millionaire Pirates, captured images from Boston.com of the recent events in Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. The images tell a far different story than has been reported in the media. Moreover, the angry comments from Americans (also captured in this post) reflect their misguided understanding of all that has transpired over the past 20 years in this region.
Part III, Somalian Piracy: Overstated Threat?, asks the question of what is really going on internationally with respect to piracy. What’s going on in Malaysia and Indonesia? What about Nigeria and Brazil? What percentage of ships are pirated? What is the economic benefit to Somalia? What is the economic benefit to the European firms and countries who continue to sail through the Gulf of Aden with minimal protections? What is the larger geo-political significance of a US military build up in the Indian Ocean? How does AFRICOM fit into this? How do China and India fit into this?
Part IV, European Dumping Devils with Details – Somalia Uncovered, puts the spotlight on a 2005 report from the United Nations.
Heavily armed foreign boats have often tried to exploit the breakdown of law and order in Somalia since the overthrow of President Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991 by fishing in the rich Somali waters, thus depriving coastal communities of resources.
A Captive Audience – Somalians at Sea
Part V, Remember When Somalis Were White, reports on the historical attempt by white supremacist scholars to claim Somalia as a “white” nation of dark-skinned Hamites. Long before the Somalis were reviled for engaging in piracy; long before the US and USSR played political football in this region, there were highly acclaimed intellectuals who posited that Africans might be “Caucasoid” simply because there were was a resemblance to people in Europe. These allegedly brilliant men flatly rejected the notion that these ancient African peoples probably came by their appearance honestly — and that it was the Europeans who actually had an Africoid look. The Somalis, Ethiopians and other Africans residing along the Nile Valley were reclassified to fit the aims of desperate men looking for a home in antiquity. They have yet to find that home, and the Somalian people are the same as they ever were.
Part VI, Definition of a Pirate, defines the legal terms of this discussion with specific references to the United Nations and other entities. In many instances, what has been done by the Somalis does not constitute piracy. Conversely, a great deal of what has been done by the Italians and other Europeans does constitute illegal and destructive fishing and illegal dumping of nuclear and toxic waste. That mainstream media sources like the New York Times and CNN routinely ignore or understate these established facts demonstrates, once again, that “news” is merely advertising. These organizations are propaganda machines with no credibility.
Comments are always welcome.