Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What Would Capt. Jack Do?

This is the sort of issue that puts the lie to traditional economists who say the military is simply a drain on national resources while accepting merchant security firms and loss prevention employment as contributors to the national GDP.

Belgium is offering military units to its merchant vessels off the Horn of Africa for C115,000 per week, challenging a global aversion to guns aboard merchant ships.

France has put troops on tuna boats in the Indian Ocean and US lawmakers are weighing similar action to fight piracy.

In June, the U.S. House passed HR 2647 that would require the DOD to put armed teams on US-flagged ships passing through high-risk waters, specifically around the Horn of Africa where Somali pirates have become a scourge of world shipping.

The amendment now goes to the Senate. A separate bill would grant immunity from prosecution in American courts to any “owner, operator, time charterer, master, or mariner who uses force, or authorizes the use of force, to defend a vessel of the United States against an act of piracy.”

Opponents fear such moves will escalate the violence and raise a thicket of legal issues for personal and corporate liabilities and national sovereignty.

UPDATE: Sept. 16.

Nations representing over 50% of the world's shipping tonnage today signed an anti-piracy agreement. Details here.

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